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Leechburg High School principal escorted from building

Chuck Biedka
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Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
With the commencement announcement on the marquee, teachers enter Leechburg High School on Thursday, June 2, 2016.
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Leechburg High School Principal Matthew Kruluts

The principal and vice principal at Leechburg High School were placed on administrative leave Thursday pending an investigation into whether they failed to report allegations of child abuse.

Principal Matthew Kruluts was escorted from the school Thursday about an hour after students were dismissed for the year.

Also placed on leave was Michelle Ferretti, whom police identified as vice principal.

Police obtained copies of personnel files and emails for Kruluts, Ferretti and two teachers.

Search warrants show police and Armstrong County detectives are investigating a former substitute teacher who allegedly inappropriately touched as many as 15 girls.

The male teacher, whose name has not been released, is no longer associated with the district and doesn’t live in Leechburg, authorities say.

Leechburg police Chief Mike Diebold said no criminal charges have been filed. Police and Armstrong County detectives continue to investigate.

Reached by phone, Kruluts refused to comment Thursday.

Ferretti didn’t return a call.

District Solicitor Robert Cinpinski released a statement from the district, which reads, in part:

“The district has been made aware of allegations that certain staff members did not report alleged child abuse to the proper authorities. The district is cooperating fully with police and CYF (Armstrong County Children, Youth and Family Services) investigations. The staff members have been placed on administrative leave pending finalization of this investigation.”

Kruluts, 59, of Shaler was seen leaving the building just after noon. Students were dismissed for the school year just after 11 a.m.

Leechburg Area’s graduation ceremony took place last night.

Law requires reporting of abuse

School employees are “mandated reporters,” meaning they are legally obligated to immediately report suspected child abuse. Failure to do so can result in a misdemeanor criminal charge that could rise to a felony under new provisions in the Child Protective Services Law, which was updated in 2014.

Some of the nine students who gave police statements said they reported a substitute teacher’s inappropriate contact with girls in school months before a concerned teacher called ChildLine, a statewide child abuse hotline, May 13.

Rough year at Leechburg Area

The revelation of possible inappropriate contact with students happened after incidents in which a student brought a loaded .45-caliber handgun to school and a young man was found with a gun-shaped folding knife in the district’s kindergarten playground.

Before those incidents, the district was shaken by police allegations that sexually oriented hazing had taken place for about a decade among members of the school’s boys basketball team.

Acting Superintendent Frank Prazenica deferred to Cinpinski’s statement. He said he hopes the investigation can be completed well before classes in the fall.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or [email protected].

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