Punxsutawney School Board Votes to Begin Dismissal Process of High School Co-Principal

Punxsy School Board January 10 2023PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) – The Punxsutawney Area School District Board on January 10 voted unanimously to begin dismissal proceedings against high school co-principal Paul Hetrick.

(Photo above: The Punxsutawney Area School District Board meets for their monthly voting meeting on Tuesday, January 10.)

Hetrick was arrested for violating a PFA (Protection From Abuse) on December 9, 2022. It was the third arrest in four months for the embattled educator. He was arrested in September for DUI and in October for a different PFA violation.

Following a motion by Director Deneen Evans, with a second by Director Chad Pearce, the board voted 8-0 to approve a resolution against Hetrick.

The resolution read:

WHEREAS, the superintendent has recommended that the Statement of Charges attached hereto be approved by the School Board in accordance with the court’s decision in School Dist. Of Philadelphia v. Jones 139 A.3d 358, 332 Ed. Law. Rep. 393 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2016), appeal denied, 167 A.3d 697 (Pa. 2017); and

WHEREAS, the Superintendent has advised the School Board that he believes that there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations in the Statement of Charges; and

WHEREAS, the School Board has reviewed the Statement of Charges and considered the Superintendent’s belief that there is evidentiary support for the Statement of Charges;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved, that:

  1. The Statement of Charges is hereby approved and directed to be issued; and
  2. The President and Secretary of the Board execute the Statement of Charges as required by Section 1127 of the School Code; and
  3. The Superintendent schedule a hearing before the School Board reasonably, promptly, and consistent with the School Code; and
  4. The Superintendent cause the Statement of Charges to be served upon the professional employee in the manner and time prescribed by Section 1127 of the School Code.

Read the entire Statement of Charges here.

The School Board members who voted for the resolution were Matthew Kengersky, President; David Wachob, Vice President; Robert Cardamone, Treasurer; Cindy Depp-Hutchinson, Director; Deneen Evans, Director; Katie Laska, Director; Lisa Mennetti, Director; and Chad Pearce, Director.

Also in attendance at the meeting were Thomas Lesniewski, Superintendent; Susan Robertson, Secretary; and Robert Zurata, Solicitor.

Director Janey London was not in attendance.

“At tonight’s board meeting, the School Board voted 8-0 to approve the Statement of Charges related to the dismissal of Paul Hetrick,” Kengersky read in a prepared statement.

“The vote tonight was not to dismiss Mr. Hetrick but will begin the dismissal process consistent with the procedures set forth in the Public School Code. Mr. Hetrick will be provided with notice of these charges and informed of his legal rights, which include, among other things, his right to request a hearing in front of the Board. As this is a pending personnel matter, the Board will not make any further comments related to this matter unless or until official board action is taken.”

When asked if such a hearing would be open to the public, Kengersky said, “That’s up to Mr. Hetrick.”

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