Principal from NA new Plum school chief
After more than an hour of protest from some community members Tuesday night, the Plum school board named a North Allegheny high school principal as the district’s new superintendent.
Brendan Hyland, who has led North Allegheny Intermediate High School since 2007, has not finalized a start date. It’s not clear whether Mr. Hyland was at the meeting. He could not be reached for comment later.
The board voted 6-2, with one abstention. Board members Rich Zucco and Jim Rogers opposed the hiring, and Angela Anderson abstained because she had questions about Mr. Hyland that she said had not been answered.
Board president Steve Schlauch declined to release the terms of Mr. Hyland’s contract.
Before the public comment period, school solicitor Bruce Dice read a statement from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, which helped the board pick a nominee. He told attendees the board had winnowed 21 candidates to two finalists, then one dropped out.
That left only Mr. Hyland in the running. The board decided to move forward with the hiring because they feared Mr. Hyland also might back out.
The board began its search after former superintendent Timothy Glasspool announced in September that he intended to part ways with the district, citing an “antagonistic school board.” He retired effective Oct. 1 and received a year’s salary of $157,600 plus $12,375 for unused sick days and $14,088 for unused vacation days, according to the separation agreement.
Both Mr. Glasspool and former Plum High School principal Ryan Kociela were placed on paid leave in May 2016 after an Allegheny County grand jury released an 89-page report on its investigation of a sex-abuse scandal in the district.
Three former high school teachers — Joseph Ruggieri, Jason Cooper and Michael Cinefra — were sentenced to prison following their convictions for sexual assault and other charges related to inappropriate contact with students.
Mr. Glasspool was reinstated in September 2016 after the district conducted a second, independent investigation of the allegations. The recommendation to reinstate Mr. Glasspool was made after a report by Levin Legal Group concluded there was no legal justification under the state publicschool code to fire him.
Nearly 70 people crowded into the Plum High School library Tuesday night, and more than a dozen spoke, nearly all of them raising concerns about Mr. Hyland’s credentials.
Some said the district couldn’t afford to have a leader without central office experience. Others worried his connection to board member Scott Kolar — who works at North Allegheny as an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor — gave the appearance of nepotism.
“To pick somebody with no experience from 15 miles away is just not the right decision,” said John Anderson, a Plum resident who said he teaches in another district.
Brooke Martin, a Plum resident who said she is in the market for a new house, said the board’s decision would factor into whether she moves elsewhere. She asked members to take time to find other candidates.
“Please take your time to reconsider,” she told the board, “because I will not be in Plum if this gentleman is hired.”
Other attendees raised concerns about a 2016 lawsuit against the North Allegheny School District — most of which was ultimately dismissed— that accused school officials of failing to respond properly when a student reported that other students had bullied, harassed and assaulted her. Mr. Hyland was nota party in the suit.
Before the vote, Mr. Schlauch, the board president, said members were aware of the litigation and were not concerned. He endorsed Mr. Hyland, saying the principal is “going to turn this district around.”