Shamokin Area settles with fired groundskeeper
COAL TOWNSHIP - Citing increased costs and the court's delay, Shamokin Area School Board approved a settlement agreement with a former groundskeeper who claimed he had been wrongfully terminated.
At a special meeting Tuesday night, the board voted 6-0 to approve a settlement agreement for $60,000 to Weaver to end the case, which had been appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Voting for the agreement were board president Brian Persing, Jeff Kashner, Charles Shuey, Robert Getchey, Tracey Witmer and Edward Griffiths. Directors Ron McElwee, LaRue Beck and Bernie Sosnoskie were absent.
Following the five-minute meeting, the board released a statement.
"Due to the ongoing case and the court's delay in making a definite decision on this matter, the Board of Directors has decided that it is in the best interest of the school, and Mr. Weaver, that an agreement be reached to settle this outstanding issue," the release read.
Weaver, 66, of Shamokin, who lost his job in March 2008 for allegedly threatening his supervisor, had worked for the district for 21 years.
Weaver filed a grievance through his union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 86, claiming he was wrongfully terminated. On Aug. 4, 2009, an arbitrator ruled that Weaver was guilty of disregarding instructions, but had been fired without just cause. The arbitrator ruled that Weaver should receive a four-week suspension, attend anger management classes and be placed on probationary status for one year.
The school district petitioned for a review of the decision to the county court. Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor vacated the arbitrator's award after determining Weaver's actions violated the public policy against violence in schools.
The union then appealed Saylor's ruling to Commonwealth Court which then reversed his ruling.
The state appeals court found that Weaver did not violate the zero-tolerance policy against violence in schools because at no time were students at risk and though "highly inappropriate," his statements didn't rise to the level of terroristic threats.
In April 2011, attorney Ben Pratt of the CGA Law Firm, York, announced that the district would appeal the ruling to the state's highest court.
In their statement, Shamokin Area was confident that the board and administration handled the matter appropriately." "However," it reads, "with potential legal costs, and the potential expense should the case not be found in the district's full favor, this settlement allows the parties to move on with their business without the risk associated with the outcome of the case."
In other business, the board approved two agreements, one with Griffiths Consultation Services LLC, of Elysburg to provide school psychologist services to the district at a cost of $75 per hour as needed through July 1, 2013, and for Robert A. Jones III to provide technical support to district special education staff located at Northwestern University as needed at a cost of $45 an hour.
Lester Dascani was hired to provide custodial/maintenance service for four hours a day on an as-needed basis for the elementary project at a cost of $9.50 an hour, to be paid from Qualified Zone Academy Bond funds.
Gerald Sherman, who was furloughed April 2 due to the elimination of a custodial/maintenance position, was approved to be recalled and assigned to a custodial position, effective Oct. 3.
All motions were approved by a 6-0 vote.