Public deserves answers

Six members of the Altoona Area School Board reached a reasonable decision Tuesday night when they decided to put longtime Superintendent Dennis Murray on paid administrative leave and hire a law firm to continue an investigation into some administrative pay raises.

Without answers to questions about several pay raises that may not have been authorized, school district taxpayers are left with speculation.

And unless someone looks into and details the step-by-step process that resulted in raises believed to be larger than the ones approved publicly, no one will be any wiser.

When the school board asked Solicitor David Andrews in January to look into the raises and report back to the board, that seemed like a good move to get an explanation of what happened when and why.

But when the board met Tuesday night, it was revealed that Andrews would no longer be handling that task.

Through his law partner, Carl Beard, Andrews offered a statement to explain his decision: “As a result of some unexpected positions presented by attorneys for Dr. Murray at a meeting last week, there is a possibility I may be needed as a witness for the school board at a later date. Therefore, I have informed the board it would be advisable to have separate counsel of this matter.”

So the board, in a 6-to-3 vote, hired Levin Legal Group of Philadelphia at an hourly rate of $170 to $190 to continue the investigation and provide recommendations.

That hourly rate has the potential of adding up, but if it generates answers, then it’s likely to be money well spent.

We said in January that the discrepancies in pay raises were disturbing. Here it is two months later, we’re still waiting for explanations, and those discrepancies are still disturbing.

The taxpayers deserve to know what was going on.