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Westmoreland

Norwin school board fails to fill vacancy, could be up to county judges

Joe Napsha
| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, 3:03 p.m.
A Norwin School District bus travels along McMahon Drive in North Huntingdon on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
A Norwin School District bus travels along McMahon Drive in North Huntingdon on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas judges likely will have to fill a vacancy on the Norwin School Board.

Board members still have not agreed on a replacement for Shawn Petrisko, who resigned Aug. 20. Nine candidates applied for the position, said Robert Perkins, board president.

When former director Rebecca Gediminskas and William Essay were nominated at the Sept. 10, neither candidate garnered five votes from the seven members present. The board did not vote to fill the position at its meeting Monday.

The deadline for the board to select a replacement is Thursday — which is 30 days after Petrisko’s resignation. Perkins, who has been on the board for 18 years, said he could not recall a previous time when the court had to select one of the school directors.

The county’s 10 judges will get to appoint a board member if 10 or more Norwin voters petition the judges to select someone, said Falco Muscante, district solicitor. The judges likely would advertise for candidates and then conduct interviews before selecting someone. There is no deadline prescribed in the school code for when the judges would have to make a decision, Muscante said.

If no one petitions the court to appoint a board member, Muscante said the school board will operate with eight members until another member is elected next year. Petrisko’s term was to expire in December 2019.

Responding to a suggestion that the school board petition the court to appoint a candidate, Director Barb Viola questioned why the board would do that when “we could not do it ourselves.”

Viola claimed that one current member threatened to resign if one of the nine applicants were appointed. She did not identify the board member or the candidate that person opposed.

Viola said that none of the directors should “feign indignation” at Petrisko’s resignation, then “buckle to the threat of another’s attempt to sway the vote.”

Gediminskas received the support from Donald Rhodes, Dennis Rittenhouse, Viola and Perkins. Gediminskas lost her bid for re-election in the November 2017 general election.

Essay was favored by Brian Carlton, Tracey Czajkowski and Raymond Kocak.

Director Darlene Ciocca attended the Sept. 10 meeting, but had to leave before the vote. Rhodes was absent Monday.

The other candidates interested in the position are Ronald Giuliana, Robert L. Henry, Amy Johnson, Anthony Legge, Kimberly Pickett, Wayne Washowich and Gerald O’Donnell Jr.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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