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Westmoreland

West Hempfield principal on medical leave, awaits court hearing

| Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 5:24 p.m.
West Hempfield Area Middle School Principal Aaron Steinly
Tribune-Review
West Hempfield Area Middle School Principal Aaron Steinly

The West Hempfield Area Middle School principal is on paid medical leave while awaiting a court date in Indiana County on charges of theft and receiving stolen property, court records show.

Records say Aaron Steinly, 44, of Hidden Valley, Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Susanne Steffee. He opted to take the charges, stemming from the theft of a bicycle, to court.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Steinly said “all charges were dropped” Monday.

A spokeswoman for Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said court records show Steinly waived the prosecution to court and intends to apply for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD. The probationary program for first-time offenders allows those who successfully complete terms of their ARD agreements to apply to have their records expunged.

Criminal charges filed by state police May 19 allege Steinly was videotaped taking an $800 Trek road bike from the front porch of an Indiana County home April 15 after he inquired about purchasing the bike. In court documents, Trooper Marnie Johns said Steinly first denied stealing the bicycle, then returned it, claiming the incident “was a prank.”

Monday night, members of the Hempfield Area School Board approved a motion granting Steinly a paid leave of absence, effective June 27 through Oct. 10. The board authorized David Vezendy, an assistant high school principal, to fill in during Steinly's leave.

Hempfield Area Superintendent Tammy S. Wolicki declined to comment on Steinly's status, saying it was a personnel matter.

Steinly, who has been at West Hempfield for seven years, said he is on an approved medical leave and under the care of the UPMC Brain Trauma Center.

“I suffered two really bad ski accidents. I have a traumatic brain injury and injuries to my back and pelvis,” he said by phone Tuesday.

Steinly's lawyer, Brian Aston, did not return repeated calls.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib

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