The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 29, 2013

School CEO pays fine

Violation costs Gentile $7,000

WEST SALEM TOWNSHIP —

 

“Accountability and responsibility for one’s actions are part of the mantra of what makes the Keystone programs including the Keystone Charter School the success they are today,” James Gentile, founder of the school, said Thursday.

Gentile accepted his responsibility for an ethics violation by agreeing to pay a $6,000 penalty plus $1,000 to cover some of the costs of the investigation.

In a 30-page adjudication report, the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission said Gentile violated the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act when he used his position as a member of the board of the Keystone Education Center to participate in discussions concerning rental and lease payments of buildings used by the school and owned by Gentile and members of his immediate family, working under the corporate name Gentile Enterprises Inc. of Gentile Enterprises LLC, and signed leases for classroom space from Gentile Enterprises as president of the charter school board and the affiliated Keystone Adolescent Center.

Gentile has stressed that the state Department of Education approved the formation of the charter school with the same lease arrangements, but said Thursday that the ethics commission and the state Auditor General, who also has been critical of the arrangement, are independent of the education department.

Gentile resigned as a member of the school board in 2010, shortly after the Auditor General’s Office first pointed out a possible conflict of interest, he said.

He acknowledged that he should not have voted on leases and rent payments as a member of the school board.

“It is a violation because I sat there,” he said. “At the same time, it was approved by the Department Education.”

“(A)t no time did James Gentile intend to create a charter school or place himself on the board for the purposes of gaining some financial benefit through a lease arrangement between the school and Gentile Enterprises,” he said.

Gentile said he was never a controlling force on the school board. The board initially was composed of himself and the superintendents of the Greenville and Reynolds school districts.

“They could always outvote me,” he said.

The board later was expanded to five members.

Gentile said he cooperated fully with the ethics commission.

“I gave them everything I had,” he said. “I have nothing to hide.”

He said he agreed to the penalty because of the power of the commission.

“They can do anything to you,” he said. “They could fine you anything. They could put you out of business.”

Keystone Adolescent Center was created in 1993, and the Keystone Charter School opened its doors in 1997, the first charter school to do so in Pennsylvania.

Gentile Enterprises owns the former West Salem Elementary School, which it bought from Reynolds, at 425 S. Good Hope Road, and the former Marion Restaurant, 270 Sharon Road, also in West Salem.

The school pays Gentile Enterprises about $20,000 a month for the buildings, and Gentile said the lease amounts have only changed once, due to an expansion of one of the buildings.

Gentile Enterprises has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to the buildings, including $180,000 for improved sewage treatment and $50,000 for a parking lot upgrade.

“It is extremely critical to understand why it was necessary to create the rental relationship between the school and Gentile Enterprises,” Gentile said. “Act 22, the Charter School enabling legislation, did not allow charter schools to use public funds to acquire real estate. Consequently, if the school was going to exist, it had to rent a facility.”

Gentile Enterprises pays real estate taxes on its buildings, unlike public schools, he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 18, 2014

    ‘Nonspecific threat’ prompts evacuation

    Supreme Court refuses to hear couple’s appeal

    Lung Association offering free radon test kits

    April 18, 2014

  • Man admits to choking; rape case is dropped

    A Greenville man on Thursday pleaded down a rape case to simple assault and continued to deny that he committed any sexual crimes.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge issues tabletop ads injunction against couple

    A judge recently handed down an injunction prohibiting a Sharon man, his wife and two companies associated with the wife from working in the tabletop advertising business within 100 miles of Sharon.

    April 18, 2014

  • Tech waste eyed for new contact

    The current Hermitage solid waste contract was designed to increase recycling while reducing the amount of garbage placed at the curb, and it has lived up to its promise.

    April 18, 2014

  • WaterFire Rekindled

    WaterFire Sharon has chosen themes for its festivals to be held on three Saturdays in downtown Sharon. “Elements” will be the theme July 19, “Origins” for Aug. 23 and “Motion” for the Sept. 27 celebration.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 17, 2014

    Man arrested for running from accident scene

    UPMC, Southwest eyeing security at hospital

    Crashes cause diversion of Interstate 80 traffic

    Court supports prison term in chase case

    Woman gets 5-10 years in crash that killed officer

    April 17, 2014

  • Officials pledge support to sewer project

    Publicly declaring their intention to donate county land to the Upper Neshannock Watershed Authority, Commissioners Matt McConnell and John Lechner said there’s no need for Commissioner Brian Beader to worry about the loss of the sewer project at the Interstate 80/Route 19 interchange.

    April 17, 2014

  • Griswold Avenue fire Neighbors tried to save victim

    As flames and thick smoke poured out of a Sharon house Tuesday evening, neighbors rallied to try and save the man who lived there alone.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman nabbed, sister sought in assault

    Southwest Mercer County Regional police have arrested a Hermitage woman for breaking into a home in Farrell and beating a woman and are seeking the alleged assailant’s sister.

    April 16, 2014

  • Despite good deeds, man going back to prison

    Linda K. Kretzer had nothing but praise for Raymond C. McKelvey.

    April 16, 2014

  • 15-year-old legal battle returning to county court

    State Supreme Court has let stand a Superior Court decision sending a landmark medical malpractice case back to Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

    April 16, 2014

  • Southwest mulls how to adopt study points

    Even though some members of the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department had little respect for a study of the department completed by a consultant, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. pledged to implement as many of the study’s recommendations as he could.

    April 16, 2014

  • Beader plans to resign, just not yet

    Democratic Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader acknowledges that he intends to resign, but said nothing will happen until after he meets privately with the county’s judges next Thursday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wildlife fund for park Aiding Buhl Farm animals

    Some of Steven Jubelirer’s fondest memories of his mother, Natalie, was when they would walk together in Buhl Farm park, Hermitage.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • News briefs from April 15, 2014

    Man charged with attack on his wife in Walmart

    Woman arrested for stabbing man with knife

    3 injured in pickup-motorcycle crash

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Sharonheraldnewspaper Facebook Page