Monday, November 17, 2014
NorCo Grand Jury Calls For Resignations of Three EASD Directors
Although Easton High School football team is undefeated and is marching its way towards a state championship, it's a failing high school when it comes to academics. Instead of focusing on either athletics or academics, the Easton Area School District has been painted by a Northampton County Grand Jury as a "negative culture" in which there exists "severe mistrust" between school board members and administrators that borders on "paronoia." While finding that there is no criminal activity, the 64-page report (you can read it here) is calling for the resignations od school board directors Frank Pintabone, Robert Fehnel and Kerri Leonard Ellison. Jurors also admonish School District Solicitor John Freund to report possible crimes to law enforcement instead of handling things internally. Finally, they recommend that the school district revise its computer use policies to establish clear policies for remote access to employee computers.
This matter first surfaced when it was discovered that Easton Area School District IT Director Thomas Drago was remotely accessing the computers of various school administrators. He was charged with wiretapping when it was discoverred that he had recorded a meeting among school officials. Drago was ultimately placed on ARD, a special prodram for first offenders in which charges are wiped clean after a successful period of probation. Drago cooperated in the Grand Jury investigation.
The Grand Jury investigated whether school board members had engaged in any attemt to intimidate and retaliate against school district employees. School administrators charged that Drago was leaking sensitive information to school board members, but there was no evidence of any criminal conduct. The Grand Jury believes that there may have been some retaliation under the guise of "restructuring", but that is a civil matter.
There was no evidence that District Solicitor John Freund attempted to thwart any criminal investigation, but once the District's own investigation revealed that Drago had unlawfully recorded a meeting, the matter should have been reported.
Why should school board directors resign after being exonerated? "We are concerned that their continued service continues to put a strain on the relationship between school district administrators and the school board and that a newly reconstituted board without holdovers who were involvedin the Drago matter would be in the best interests of the school district."