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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Funeral plans set for Jackson Twp. firefighter
Funeral arrangements have been set for a Jackson Township firefighter killed in a tractor accident over the weekend.
Fugitive returning – eventually – to Somerset jail
A warden says a man who was arrested in New Jersey after escaping from the Somerset County Jail in 2005 will be returned to the lockup – eventually.
Power in Moxham expected to be restored by 1 p.m. Tuesday
One person was sent to the hospital Tuesday after a vehicle slammed into a utility pole in Johnstown leaving some customers without power, authorities said. The one-vehicle crash happened on Bridge Street in the Moxham section of Johnstown at 1:14 a.m., fire Chief Anthony Kovacic said. When firefighters arrived, they found utility wires down, he said. Denny Platt, area manager for Penelec, said 402 customers initially lost power, including North American Hoganas High Alloys, a business which is located on Bridge Street. Power was restored to all but nine customers by 3:30 a.m., he said. The remaining nine customers are expected to have power restored by 1 p.m., Platt said.
Easter Seals’ branches join, add services
A June 4 merger of two independent Pennsylvania Easter Seals nonprofit organizations has led to an increased service area and expanded programs, Johnstown Division Director Annette Shearman said.
Inmate’s hearing delayed
The first court appearance by a death-row inmate who police and many witnesses say slammed a Cambria County attorney in the face more than a month ago is again delayed.
Bedford trial set to open
A man charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a western Bedford County man he called his best friend will attempt to convince a jury that he should not be held responsible for his death.
Richland bash sheds Thunder ties
Although no longer officially part of Thunder in the Valley, Richland Bike Bash provides another motorcycle-themed venue for music, food and fun while supporting the Richland Township Fire Department.
Pool ’n Pork festival adds new activities
Each year, the Nanty Glo Pool and Park along Lincoln Avenue tries to draw a portion of the leather-clad throngs speeding to Johns-town’s annual Thunder in the Valley event.
Police roundup: 2nd man sought in diamond heist
Richland Township police are looking for a second suspect in connection with a jewelry store robbery at The Galleria on Saturday.
In brief: West Taylor bridge project underway
Work to replace two structures that cross Wildcat Run and a tributary to Laurel Run on Cooper Avenue, Route 3041, in West Taylor Township began Monday.
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