WEST MIFFLIN (KDKA) — The embattled superintendent of the West Mifflin Area School District testified in front of his critics and supporters during a school board meeting Monday night in the middle school auditorium.
It was the first time the public heard from Dr. Daniel Castagna, as the hearing – which will determine whether he will be officially fired or reinstated as superintendent – continued for a sixth night. He is currently suspended.
During the hearing, Dr. Castagna explained why he filed a lawsuit against the school district and members of the board after he was placed on unpaid leave.
The legal basis he cited is three-pronged, race — because he’s Italian American, age — because he’s over 40, and retaliation by the members named in the suit.
After three-and-a-half hours of testimony, Dr. Castagna said he was glad to have the chance to tell his side of the story. His attorneys say many of the accusations against their client are unfounded.
Among the accusations, a 2017 DUI charge, neglect of duties, incompetency and immorality.
But Dr. Castagna denied that he directed school security to harass and stalk school board members, that he improperly utilized a district employee for personal benefit, and that he hired a motorcycle gang to protect him at a board meeting.
“All I wanted all along was the opportunity to have my voice heard, so that’s why we chose to go public,” said Dr. Castagna. “We felt we had nothing to hide. We wanted the evidence to be shown, that there wasn’t any merit to what they were saying, what they were alleging. And I’m actually happy I’m getting the chance to speak.”
“This is what happens when allegations from three, four, five years ago surface all the sudden for a really bad motive, a political affiliation motive that this current board is harboring against Dr. Castagna, because he did not politically affiliate with them,” said attorney Colleen Johnston. “This is what happens when you dredge up rumor mill and speculation that has no basis.”
KDKA asked the legal team representing the school district for comment, but said they were instructed by the hearing officer to refrain from saying anything.
The meeting will go to a seventh session next Monday, Oct. 29.