Board to decide whether to retain Apple

MIFFLINTOWN — A determination is expected to be made Thursday on whether to retain former Juniata High School principal Edward Apple.

A special meeting will be held before the Juniata County School District’s Board of Directors at 7:30 p.m. for the purpose of resuming a due process hearing to provide brief testimony, said Attorney Howard Kelin, of Lancaster-based law firm, Kegel, Kelin, Almy and Lord, who is advising the board.

Thursday will be the fifth night of testimony for the hearing, which is required under the Pennsylvania School Code prior to dismissing an employee.

The regularly scheduled board of directors meeting will follow at 8 p.m. Kelin said the board is expected to make its decision regarding Apple’s employment with the school district at that time.

Apple is currently on suspension without pay after receiving a statement of charges for taking steel tables from the now-closed Lack-Tuscarora Elementary School to his private hunting grounds on New Year’s Day and for misconduct related to using money from a “slush fund” to purchase a birthday lunch — which included alcoholic beverages — at Red Zone, Mifflintown, during work hours.

About two dozen witnesses have been called to testify throughout the hearings, including a former superintendent, a former principal, several faculty and staff and character witnesses.

Apple’s attorney, Aaron D. Martin, of Harrisburg-based law firm Mette, Evans and Woodside said previously that Apple requested the hearings be public because he “has nothing to hide and wanted the public to hear that.”

Apple is a 25-year employee of the school district.

Lewistown Attorney Orris Knepp is advising the superintendent.

As the result of a lawsuit filed by Apple’s attorney, a court order found that board members Amy Wagner and Danny Snyder could not sit on the board in judgment of Apple.

Apple also has a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline Leister for separate criminal charges that came about as a result of a Pennsylvania State Police investigation. Those charges include felony theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit theft.