Report on inquiry given to district Coatesville Area officials had demanded the findings. A law firm earlier had refused to release the study.

Posted: March 23, 2002

CALN — Almost a week after a deadline set by Coatesville Area School District administrators, "it" arrived.

"It" is 22 boxes of findings and supporting material from a six-month investigation into the management of the school district, dubbed the "Rohn Report." It was delivered to district offices just before 4 p.m. yesterday, said Kate Pella, the district's director of communications.

Conrad, O'Brien, Gellman & Rohn of Philadelphia, the law firm that wrote the report, was scheduled to hand the report and related documents to James T. Scarnati, superintendent, and Brenda Haws, chief financial officer, on March 11.

The board has been in the dark about the report for nearly two years. Last month, the board began to push for the report, but James Rohn, the lawyer hired to lead the inquiry, had tagged the report "a background investigation . . . not for public consumption." Yesterday, Rohn declined to comment on his firm's apparent change of policy.

Now that the report is in the district's hands, Scarnati and Haws said they would review it.

"We have no date set to make a presentation to the board because of the size of the report," Pella said yesterday. She said the report would be kept in a vault.

The report was delivered a day after an attorney for Louis Laurento, the former superintendent, said that reviewing the report would breach the terms of his separation agreement. Laurento, who agreed to a $257,400 buyout at the end of the investigation, was one of several administrators investigated as part of the report.

"I've told them that we don't want that report open," said Guy Donatelli, Laurento's attorney, adding that it would not be appropriate for him to mention whether he and his client were considering filing a lawsuit.

He did not return calls for comment.

William Huganir, board solicitor, said: "The confidentiality agreement was for the purpose of preventing the contents of the report from being disseminated to the public. . . . It doesn't prevent the review of the report by confidential district administrators."

Board members hope the report summarizing the investigation, which cost taxpayers at least $192,328 for legal fees and a private investigator, will shed light into the $7.2 million shortfall in the district's $96.3 million budget.

"I think the taxpayers of Coatesville need to know that the report has been looked into," said Elaine Clayton, former principal and a member of a watchdog group. "That would take any of the doubt or mistrust away."

Contact Ericka Bennett at 610-701-7615 or ebennett@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|