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Mt. Pleasant school director hopefuls must reapply for job

| Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
The Mount Pleasant Area School District Administration Building photographed on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
The Mount Pleasant Area School District Administration Building photographed on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016.

Candidates who want to fill the unexpired term of a Mt. Pleasant Area school director will have to reapply, and a panel of Westmoreland County judges will decide who among them is the best qualified.

School directors Feb. 8 failed to select a candidate from among eight residents who expressed interest in finishing Richard Albright's unexpired term. Albright, whose term runs through the end of 2017, resigned Jan. 11.

Directors nominated three of the eight who applied — John W. Sarnese, Gail Heskey and John Walton, all of Mt. Pleasant — but they failed to reach a majority vote on any of the candidates, according to solicitor John S. Toohey.

Citing the state's public school code, the board Wednesday petitioned Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas to appoint someone to the vacancy.

Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. on Thursday issued an order directing candidates to submit resumes and letters of recommendation to the court by March 1. The candidates will appear at 3 p.m. the following day before a panel of judges to interview for the post.

Toohey said the district will place a legal ad notifying candidates to send their information to the courts. The district will not forward to the courts the resumes of the eight who previously applied, he said.

“These eight can (reapply), as well as anybody else,” he said. “It's out of the district's hands.”

Contacted Thursday, Sarnese and Walton said they intend to apply again.

“I will probably apply, since I've gone this far with it,” Sarnese said, noting he served on the board in the 1980s until he left Pennsylvania to take a job as an executive vice president with a software and security company in Washington, D.C.

“I ran a large company and have budget and security experience,” said Sarnese, who is retired. “If I was a good board member before, now that I have knowledge in more areas, I think I would be again.”

Walton, who is the warden at the Westmoreland County Prison, said he has attended board meetings for the past several years. He said he served on a district safety committee that made recommendations on the hiring of school police officers and the placement of security cameras in buildings.

“I have a lot to offer, with my background at the prison,” Walton said. “I handle a $15 million budget, I'm well-versed in mental health and the drug task force, and I've been through contract negotiations.”

Heskey could not be reached for comment.

The other five candidates who applied but were not nominated for a vote at the Feb. 8 meeting are Richard Mazza and Donald Seder, both of Mt. Pleasant; Michael Picarsic and Lisa Tuccarello, both of Acme; and Denise Temple of Jones Mills.

At the meeting, the board deadlocked 4-4 on candidates Sarnese and Heskey. When Walton's name was added, the vote was three each for Sarnese and Heskey and two for Walton.

In his order, McCormick directed candidates to send their resumes and letters of recommendation to Amy DeMatt, Esquire, Court Administrator for the 10th Judicial District, 2 N. Main St., Greensburg, PA, 15601 or at adematt@co.westmoreland.pa.us by March 1.

Tribune-Review staff writer Renatta Signorini contributed to this report. Liz Zemba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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