Hempfield principal accused of bike theft granted unpaid medical leave extension |

Hempfield principal accused of bike theft granted unpaid medical leave extension

Jacob Tierney
West Hempfield Area Middle School Principal Aaron Steinly

West Hempfield Middle School Principal Aaron Steinly — who was placed on medical leave last year shortly after being charged with stealing a bicycle — will not return at the start of the school year.

The school board this month agreed to extend Steinly’s leave another six months — through November — but this time he will not be paid.

“Mr. Steinly has exhausted his sabbatical leave options under the Pennsylvania School Code,” Superintendent Tammy Wolicki said via email. “He will not be receiving salary nor benefits beginning July 1, 2018.”

Steinly has been on a health sabbatical since June 2017, receiving half his salary plus benefits while undergoing treatment at the UPMC Brain Trauma Center for injuries he said were suffered during two skiing accidents.

“I have every plan to return to school when I have fully recovered medically,” he said.

The school code limits the amount of paid leave an employee can take.

Steinly is still a district employee, though he will not be collecting a paycheck for the remainder of his leave, Wolicki said.

School board president Sonya Brajdics said she could not comment on personnel issues.

State police charged Steinly in May 2017 with stealing an $800 bicycle from the front porch of an Indiana County home. The theft was caught on video, according to police.

In court documents, police said Steinly first denied stealing the bicycle, then returned it, claiming he took it as a prank.

He’s in the midst of an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time offenders to have charges scrubbed from their record as long as they abide by certain restrictions, including a ban on alcohol and required community service.

David Vezendy, formerly assistant principal at Hempfield Area High School, will remain interim principal at West Hempfield Middle School, according to Wolicki.

Anita Mash will remain as assistant high school principal, where she served this past school year in Vezendy’s absence.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected], 724-836-6646 or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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