Photo courtesy Ryan Loew/PublicSource
Superintendent Frank Dalmas is currently on unpaid leave pending a termination hearing with the school board.
By Jamie Wiggan
Sto-Rox directors appointed a substitute superintendent and censured the school board president during a Nov. 18 meeting, following allegations of ethical violations and financial mismanagement.
Both items passed unanimously, with President Samantha Levitzki-Wright introducing and assenting to the motion to censure herself.
The board did not discuss either item in public, however, solicitor Annemarie Harr read the censuring proclamation, which stated board members and district employees had recently discovered Levitzki-Wright “violated district policies...and the [Pennsylvania] school code… and the ethics act.”
Prior to the meeting, an attorney representing Superintendent Frank Dalmas – now on unpaid leave of absence with a termination hearing pending – revealed his client had been pressured to resign after the board was informed payments he and Levitzki-Wright accepted for working on district-related grant applications posed an ethical violation.
Charles Lamberton, Dalmas’ lawyer, said the approximately $3,000 payments were approved in full public view during a board meeting earlier in the year and were never flagged as problematic until recently. He said the push for Dalmas’ resignation came as a “shock” to the superintendent, who has been relieved of his regular duties since mid-October.
Despite approving the censure, Levitzki-Wright in a later statement insisted she had acted as a private individual rather than a school board representative while working on the grant, which she said was simply channeled through the district as part of a larger community initiative.
“The grant was funneled through the district at the direction of the grant writer, who is in charge of the funds,” Levitzki-Wright wrote in a statement. “And the funds were for the two year process of the time and effort put into developing trade education, job training, mental health and social health to highlight it was for the success of the community as a whole.”
The board also voted Nov. 18 to hire Joseph D. Dimperio as a substitute superintendent and approved a resolution to place Dalmas on unpaid leave pending a due process hearing required for terminating public employees.
The motion passed 7-0, with Levitzki-Wright abstaining.
It’s unclear whether a recent audit report revealing that several instances of financial mismanagement took place under Dalmas’ watch played into the termination moves. Among other findings, the 2019-2020 audit uncovered large tax payments owed by the district that, taken with penalties and interest, amount to approximately $900,000.
Prior to the board’s decision, Lamberton indicated his client would consider fighting termination proceedings, stating Dalmas “doesn’t want to leave, he wants to work.”
Lamberton did not respond to requests for comment after the Nov. 18 vote.
Dimperio, a veteran school administrator who has filled in for multiple districts throughout Allegheny County, said he was thankful for the board’s trust.
“I will devote myself to doing whatever it takes to do the work that’s needed to bring the district forward,” he said.