Paul Hetrick

HETRICK

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Area School Board voted to approve a resolution on the statement of charges against current co-high school Principal Paul Hetrick following his placement on administrative leave as a result of several cases currently against him in the court system.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Justice website, Hetrick was charged in two separate cases for violating a Protection From Abuse order on October 20 and Dec. 8. According to Common Pleas Court documents, Hetrick plead guilty to both of these charges.

The board provided the statement of charges brought against Hetrick by the school as recommended by Superintendent Thomas Lesniewski, in accordance with the court’s decision in School District of Philadelphia v. Jones.

In the Statement of Charges from the school board, it reads that Hetrick was arrested on district property in both cases, and was incarcerated for several days following the second arrest. The district also reports that Hetrick failed to report his second arrest to the district in a timely manner, violating District Policy 317.

On Dec. 13, following Hetrick’s release from jail, the district placed Hetrick on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the district’s investigation into the charges. In a letter sent to Hetrick outlining the rules of his leave, he was not to attend any district events, on or off campus.

“While on leave, you are not permitted on school property or permitted to attend any events either during the day and/or outside of school hours, including events scheduled off of the school campus,” according to the Statement of Charges.

The district also reports receiving a voicemail from Hetrick on Dec. 14 confirming his receipt of the paid administrative leave letter, and his understanding of the conditions. On Dec. 16 Hetrick violated the district’s order by attending the Punxsutawney Boys Area basketball game at the Bradford Area School District.

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According to the Statement of Charges, on Dec. 21 Hetrick then provided false statements to the district, saying he did not receive the paid administrative leave letter prohibiting him from attending on and offsite district events until after the Dec. 16 game.

“The above-reference conduct constitutes immorality, incompetency, willful neglect of duties, persistent negligence in the performance of duties, and persistent and willful violation of and failure to comply with the school laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all within the meaning of Section 1122 of the Public School code of 1949, as amended,” the Statement of Charges reads.

In a roll call vote, the board approved this Statement of Charges in an 8-0 vote, with one board member, Janey London, being absent from the meeting.

According to school board President Matt Kengersky, with the Statement of Charges now approved, the next steps are to schedule a hearing with Hetrick and to determine whether or not he should be dismissed from employment. Hetrick can ask that the hearing be held publicly or privately.

“At tonight’s meeting the school board voted 8-0 to approve the Statement of Charges related to the dismissal of Paul Hetrick. The vote tonight was not to dismiss Mr. Hetrick, but we’ll begin the dismissal process consistent with 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 the 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,” said Kengersky

A hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, but if Hetrick does not request a hearing, the board will cancel this hearing and take action on the charges without one. Following this hearing, the school board will make a public vote on how to proceed with Hetrick as an employee of the school district.

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