Centennial Issues Response to Media Coverage of Lawsuits
Lawyers representing Centennial School District issued a statement in response to recent coverage of impending litigation against the district Thursday afternoon.
The following press release was sent to local newspapers by Levin Legal Group, P.C. on behalf of Centennial School District, in response to recent reporting on lawsuits involving the district:
CENTENNIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO RECENT PRESS COVERAGE OF PENDING LITIGATION
The Centennial School District today released the following statement in response to a spate of recent articles regarding currently pending litigation:
Although it is not appropriate for the School District or any member of the School Board to comment on pending litigation, the School District strongly disagrees with the claims made in the pending litigation that the press has reported on. The School District has directed its attorneys to vigorously defend it in court. Specific questions about the litigation can be directed to the School District’s attorney.
It is disappointing that, as the School Board struggles to address one of the worst economic and budgetary climates in public education in decades, it has to spend precious time and resources defending meritless lawsuits. The School Board is comprised of nine individuals with various backgrounds and experiences who work tirelessly with the School District’s dedicated administrators to ensure that School District students receive a high quality public education. Everyone may not always agree on the best way to serve our students, but such disagreements do not mean that anyone has done anything wrong or that there is a basis for a lawsuit. What we all agree on is that the best interests of our students should always remain the focus of our work.
With the advent of the Internet, people have the ability to comment on the information reported the press. Many comments have clearly assumed that the reported information is true. However, those assumptions were made without hearing the School District’s side of the story – and that is simply not fair. For example, the press inaccurately reported that former School District Superintendent Thomas “Turnbaugh’s employment contract...prohibited the public school district from disclosing any wrongdoing discovered." That is not true. There is no such provision in the contract and such a provision would be wrong.
Investigations – not the results of investigations – are required to be conducted in private, not in secret. That is how investigations are generally conducted. It is the public policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as expressed in the Right-to-Know Law, that investigations should not be conducted in public, as documents related to investigations are not public records. In fact, the Right-to-Know law expressly states that records relating to investigations – including complaints, investigative materials, notes, correspondence and reports – are not public records. Turnbaugh’s employment contract required nothing more than the Right-to-Know Law by requiring that any investigation be conducted in private. However, if the results of any investigation showed that wrongdoing occurred, nothing in the contract required the School District to keep results confidential or secret. The report by the media to the contrary was simply wrong.
The School District is confident that it will prevail in the litigation and the School Board only asks that the community be patient as these disputes are resolved in the courts.