Prin­ci­pal from NA new Plum school chief

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Local News - By Matt McKin­ney Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

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.”

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