Pa. denies proposals for cyber schools
PHILADELPHIA – State education officials denied applications for eight new cyber charter schools on Monday, citing significant deficiencies in their planned curricula, finances and overall operations.
The proposals left Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis questioning the would-be operators’ ability “to maintain a long-term, viable educational program for the benefit of Pennsylvania students.”
“The proposals submitted by the applicants lack adequate evidence and sufficient information of how prospective students would be offered quality academic programs,” Tomalis said in a statement.
Court to weigh secrecy of turnpike lawyers
HARRISBURG – The state Supreme Court on Monday announced it would hear arguments in March about a dispute between the attorney general’s office and the turnpike commission over disclosure of records in a public corruption investigation that has lasted more than three years.
The turnpike commission wants the high court to overturn a decision by a grand jury supervisory judge who had sided with prosecutors who want access to communications between the agency’s lawyers and the commissioners or employees.
The commission argues that those exchanges are protected by lawyer-client privilege, while the attorney general’s office says their disclosure is needed to keep the government honest.
Aide says judge told her to ditch files
PITTSBURGH – The chief of staff for former state Sen. Jane Orie has testified the senator and state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, the legislator’s sister, both told her to remove political material in files the aide took home in the early days of a corruption investigation.
Jamie Pavlot testified Monday she took the files out of Orie’s legislative office on
Nov. 1, 2009, because they related to political activity that Orie’s state-funded staff had done for the senator and Melvin – then a Superior Court judge about to be elected to the state’s highest court two days later.
“Anything political of mine I want you to pull out of those boxes,” Pavlot said Melvin told her, echoing Sen. Orie’s words in a three-way call Pavlot said she received at home that Sunday.
Pavlot’s testimony was the first revelation in her daylong testimony about political work that Orie’s staff allegedly did when Melvin lost a race for the Supreme Court in 2003 and again in 2009, when she won.
Earlier, Pavlot had testified that the former Republican lawmaker told her, “You need to follow that as though I were telling you myself,” whenever Melvin or the judge’s aide and sister Janine Orie needed her help for campaign work.
Melvin, 56, and Janine Orie, 58, of Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs, are on trial on theft of services, conspiracy and other charges for allegedly misusing Melvin’s former Superior Court staff and Sen. Orie’s former staff – both of which were taxpayer-funded – to campaign for Melvin.
Melvin is suspended because of the charges she faces and Janine Orie is suspended as Melvin’s aide.
Jane Orie, 51, is serving 21/2 to 10 years in prison and resigned from office after she was convicted last year of using her state-paid staff to work on her own campaigns.
Man jailed after fight with at bookstore
GREENSBURG – A man has been jailed on charges that he fought with state troopers and tried to disarm them of their stun guns when they responded to a disturbance at a Greensburg bookstore.
Online court records don’t list an attorney for 38-year-old Michael Haugh, of Apollo, Armstrong County, who was arrested Saturday evening.
That’s when troopers from the Greensburg barracks say they were called to the Barnes & Noble store on Route 30 in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County.
Police said Haugh was wanted for making unspecified threats and fought with two troopers who tried to subdue him, grabbing for their stun guns in the process. Instead, both troopers stunned Haugh and arrested him, but not before about $500 damage was done to a store display.
Haugh faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 5
Bucknell admits SAT scores inflated
LEWISBURG – The president of Bucknell University said an internal investigation has revealed that school officials falsified students’ average SAT scores.
Mean SAT results for incoming freshmen were overstated by an average of 16 points between 2006 and 2012, according to President John Bravman. The motive behind the misrepresentation is unclear, he said, though college entrance exam scores often figure into national rankings.
Bravman disclosed the problem in a letter Friday to students, staff and alumni of the selective liberal arts school in central Pennsylvania.
Bravman attributed the inaccurate figures to officials who no longer work at Bucknell.
School makes students ask for toilet paper
MAHANOY CITY – An eastern Pennsylvania high school says vandalism forced it to create a policy in which toilet paper has been taken out of the boys’ bathrooms.
Boys at Mahanoy Area High School in Schuylkill County now must go to the school office to request toilet paper and sign it out. Principal Thomas Smith said that’s helped solve a major problem of bathroom vandalism that’s been going on for two years.
Smith said boys must sign out the toilet paper and then sign it back in. But the Republican-Herald of Pottsville reported some parents are protesting the policy.
Parent Karen Yedsena said some students are too embarrassed to go to the office to get toilet paper and are going home sick instead.
Pa. denies proposals for cyber schools
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State rep says he will not seek re-election
State Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Patton, announced today that he will not seek re-election after 20 years of public service, issuing the following statement:
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Three held on drug charges
A dispute at a Richland Township hotel Monday ended with three men in jail charged with possessing more than 3,000 stamp bags of heroin.
Fire company agrees to meet Wilmore Borough demands
Wilmore Borough Council and the Wilmore Volunteer Fire Company agreed to a plan that would keep the fire company operating in the borough if certain guidelines are met.
Funds eyed for mental health help
Families of people with mental disabilities know what it means to wait for the state.
Lt. gov to speak at Cambria’s birthday bash
With the date of the big party drawing near, Cambria County officials have announced that Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley will be the keynote speaker for the March 26 birthday party.
Cambria seeks grant for mental health court
The Cambria County commissioners have agreed to apply for a $120,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Deliquency.
If approved, the money will be used to help support costs associated with the development of a proposed Cambria County Mental Health Treatment Court.
Meat-theft case suspect sentenced to probation
A Johnstown man was sentenced in Cambria County court to five years probation and ordered to refrain from alcohol and drugs, unless prescribed.
The sentence handed down by Cambria County President Judge Timothy Creany for Joseph Winogrodzki, 28, followed a guilty plea to theft by unlawful taking of moveable property.
Collision with deer disables state representative’s car
A state official from Cambria County was involved in a run-in with a deer early Sunday morning in Bedford County.
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