July 27, 2008
School Board Chief Faces Charges Again: Pasquerilla Calls It ?Harassment’
By Patrick W. Connelly, The Herald, Sharon, Pa.
Jul. 27--BROOKFIELD -- Police say they will file charges Monday against Brookfield School Board President Joseph Pasquerilla for an incident at his home on July 19.
Brookfield police said township firefighters responded to a burning complaint at about 5 p.m. that day. They were putting out burning twigs and leaves in Pasquerilla's back yard when he began screaming at them and demanding to see Fire Chief Keith Barrett and Police Chief Dan Faustino, they said.
Neither man was on duty, police said. A patrolman arrived and Pasquerilla asked him for his name and badge number, police said. The patrolman handed Pasquerilla a business card.
Pasquerilla stood in front of the fire engine as a firefighter tried to pull out hose, police said.
Saturday, Pasquerilla said the burning was under control and Assistant Fire Chief Hays Montgomery admitted young firefighters handled the situation improperly.
"The fire could have been put out with four or five good spits," Pasquerilla said.
Pasquerilla said he was working on his lawn and burning freshly cut twigs and branches in a controlled area no larger than 12 or 13 inches. The fire was so small firefighters initially drove past and didn't see it, he said. The lights and sirens of the truck weren't in use, he said.
Firefighters told Pasquerilla a neighbor had called in the complaint and they asked to pull their truck in the driveway because there wasn't enough hose to extend from the road to the fire, he said. The fire was about 60 feet into the yard from the end of the driveway, he said.
The back part of the driveway is cracked and Pasquerilla said he feared it couldn't handle the truck's weight. He said he knew the firefighters were doing their job and just asked them not to back the truck over the crack, which happened anyway.
"I never swore, I never yelled," he said, adding he asked the firefighters to see their supervisor.
Montgomery came instead of Barrett and a patrolman stopped and told Pasquerilla he would write him up for disorderly conduct if he didn't cooperate, he said.
"It just became a matter of proving a point," he said. Pasquerilla said he asked the patrolman if he had a "vendetta" against him.
Pasquerilla said the patrolman began yelling at him.
To his knowledge, Pasquerilla said, he wasn't violating the open burning rules and Montgomery gave him a copy of the rules for future reference. The township follows Ohio's guidelines that forbid open burning. Small fires no larger than 3-by-3 feet are permitted for cooking and pleasure.
Pasquerilla called the incident "harassment."
"It all falls down back to the situation with (Eastern District Court Judge Ronald) Rice and the school board and all that stuff," he said. "What it is, is just one basic trend to get me out of the school board."
Pasquerilla was found guilty of assault in June for slapping board colleague Dr. Ronald Brennan March 5 during a closed meeting at the school. Pasquerilla was sentenced to miss three board meetings, told to write Brennan a letter of apology, take anger-management classes and put on one year of probation.
The letter to Brennan was done on time and considered acceptable, Pasquerilla said. He's said he's being tested to see if anger management would be beneficial.
He said he's not sure if the latest incident will be considered a violation of his probation.
"It certainly can't help me," he said, noting he'll call his parole officer on Monday.
Until this year, Pasquerilla said he'd never had any trouble with the law.
"It's strange to me," he said. "You can see why I'm bitter. You can see why I'm upset."
During his term, Pasquerilla has come under fire from the community group Save Our Schools and other taxpayers for his votes on the board.
The board is in a court battle with a group of parents, including Rice, for the district's refusal to bus students to private schools in Warren.
It also is fighting the teachers union over staff and salary cuts made in 2006. Another group of teachers was cut in June to help curb the district's financial woes.
Once the charges are filed, Pasquerilla will have to make an appearance at Eastern District Court. Pasquerilla said he still must miss another board meeting and hasn't yet decided if it will be the next one on Aug. 20.
The judge who dished out the punishment didn't clarify that the three missed meetings must be consecutive, Pasquerilla said.
Pasquerilla's son, Joseph W. Pasquerilla, also has been in the news this week.
West Middlesex Area School Board President Thomas Hubert said the younger Pasquerilla, a former educator in the district, encouraged at least 10 teachers to pursue master's degree classes at the Web-based Canyon College of Caldwell, Idaho, and then seek tuition reimbursement.
The younger Pasquerilla is an instructor for the school, which is not on the list of accepted, accredited schools in Pennsylvania.
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