PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Following a scathing grand jury report citing “systematic failures to protect students,” the principal of Plum High School has been placed on paid administrative leave.
On Thursday, a grand jury recommended no criminal charges against officials in the Plum Borough School District, where two teachers have been convicted of having sex with students and two more face related charges.
On Sunday, the school board released a statement announcing Principal Ryan Kociela being placed on leave. The statement also addressed the sex scandal and grand jury report:
As School Directors of the Plum Borough School District, we are disgusted by the conduct disclosed in the grand jury report. We are thankful for the time and effort of the grand jury. Their investigation focused on violations of the criminal code, without recommending any additional indictments. We must now focus on the violation of school code and state regulations governing school districts. We will work diligently to follow the due process of law, in order to conduct an investigation of all relevant personnel.
According to the statement, this week the school board will look to hire “outside, independent counsel to perform a full investigation.”
On Monday, students and teachers came back to classes for the first time since that news was released.
The directors of the Plum Borough School District say school code required them to place him on paid leave pending a further investigation.
The district’s investigation follows one done by a grand jury, which blamed several high-ranking officials for turning a blind eye to inappropriate conduct between a teacher and female students.
Joe Tommerello is a Plum High School alum and sat on the school board before stepping down last year.
He was specifically mentioned in the report as going to Superintendent Timothy Glasspool after one of the victims came to him about English teacher Joseph Ruggieri.
“They tried to discredit me and I truly believe the school board, the district owe myself, Major Kolar and any other whistleblowers or witnesses to this investigation an official apology,” Tommerello said.
Ruggieri is referenced in the report as having several victims. Both he and science teacher Jason Cooper, who also had a sexual relationship with a student, is charged with institutional sexual assault.
Both are in prison. Ruggieri will spend two to five years in prison and five years on probation. Cooper was sentenced to jail for 18 to 36 months.
Kociela was specifically referenced as having knowledge of the rumors about Ruggieri and numerous female students for years.
Superintendent Glasspool has not been put on leave, even though the report says both he and school resource officer Mark Kost, who is now retired, failed to protect students.
Two board members issued their own statement yesterday saying that both Kociela and Glasspool, “should no longer hold positions.”
They are also disgusted by the conduct disclosed in the grand jury report.
The next board meeting will be held on Tuesday.
This is a developing story. Stay with KDKA and KDKA.com for more information.