ShareThis Page
Former North Hills school director picked to fill board of education vacancy |
North Hills

Former North Hills school director picked to fill board of education vacancy

Arlene Bender
Timothy Burnett

A former school board member has been tapped to fill the vacancy created by the death of long-time school director Arlene Bender, who was the board vice president.

Tim Burnett, who served on the board from 2001 to 2013 will serve the remainder of Bender’s term, which runs through 2019. Bender, who served on the board for nearly 35 years, died on Aug. 12. She was 75.

Burnett, 64, was the board president in 2005, 2012 and 2013 and was vice president for three one-year terms. He did not seek re-election in 2013.

This is the second time Burnett will fill a vacancy on the board.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to once again serve the students, staff and community of North Hills School District,” Burnett said in an emailed statement. “Over the years, I have thoroughly enjoyed serving on the board, and I look forward to doing so again.”

In March 2015, the board voted unanimously to appoint Burnett to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Meyer, who resigned after frequent absences from board meetings because of his work commitments.

Burnett served through the end of 2015 and ran unsuccessfully for a full four-year term.

The vote to appoint Burnett was 5-2, with board members Dee Spade and Allison Mathis casting the dissenting vote. Board member Tom Kelly was absent from the meeting.

Spade said her vote against Burnett “was not personal.”

“I had someone else in mind,” she said, but declined to say who she wanted for the position.

Burnett was the only candidates nominated to fill the seat.

Mathis said she voted against Burnett because she “never had the opportunity to meet him.”

The state and the school district have no specific policies governing how board vacancies should be filled, according to solicitor Mike Witherel.

Boards can use any number of ways to fill a post, including nominating and voting on an eligible candidate, which was the process North Hills used, or advertising for candidates and conducting interview to fill the spot.

“The only real rule they have to follow is that an appointment must be made within 30 days a seat being vacated,” Witherel said.

If a vacancy is not filled within 30 days, residents can petition the courts to make the appointment, the solicitor said.

The only qualifications to be elected or appointed to serve on a school board is that a person be at least 18 years old, a resident of the district for at least a year and be of good moral character, according to the Pennsylvania School Board Association.

There are, however, several restrictions for serving, including conviction of an “infamous crime,” which has been interpreted as all felonies and certain misdemeanors.

In a separate action prior to Burnett’s appointment, the school directors voted unanimously for Spade to replace Bender as the board’s vice president.

Bender was a retired real-estate agent and former teacher. She served on the North Hills School Board for four years in the 1980s and rejoined the board in 1991.

Burnett works as a health-care administrator for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or [email protected] or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.