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"They have guns" comment gets resident tossed from board meeting

Published April 23. 2010 05:00PM

Panther Valley's regular school board meeting started with a bang last night as president Jeff Markovich announced that a citizen would need to leave the meeting, based on comments that were made at a meeting earlier this month.

At the April 8th meeting, resident John Barna asked several questions related to the board's financial agreements, particularly with Schneider Electric. Following his comments, he added that his friends also had the same questions related to the board's financial dealings. Markovich invited him to bring his friends to the next meeting. Barna responded by saying, "You wouldn't like my friends, they have guns" and then left the meeting.

"That could have been taken as a threat, and until it can be clarified, I have to ask Mr. Barna to leave," said Markovich at the start of last night's meeting. Barna immediately challenged Markovich, asking him how he had the legal right to have him removed from the meeting. Markovich said that the matter was not open for discussion. The board's solicitor, Robert Yurchak, was not present at the meeting.

Barna attempted to explain himself, saying that he was joking, but then immediately compounded the situation by adding that he "might come after all of you." Markovich asked that Barna be removed from the meeting by the security guard, adding, "Now that is a threat, and with that and your previous comment, I think we have a reason to be concerned."

Barna was escorted out of the board room, however, following a confrontation in the hallway, stormed back into the board room. Markovich declared a 15 minute recess and the police were summoned to the school. Barna appeared to have left the premises before the police arrived.

In other legal matters, Director R. Mickey Angst withdrew his request for a public hearing on his not being allowed to attend executive sessions. Markovich opened a discussion on the requested hearing and Director Anthony DeMarco raised several questions regarding the costs of holding the hearing. "We would need a public officer, a stenographer, plus there would be additional expenses for Robert (Yurchak)," said DeMarco. "My question is who should these costs fall on? Should it fall on the District or Mr. Angst?"

Angst stated that he had looked into the matter and the cost would primarily fall on the District. Angst then said that four board members had informed him of what went on in the last executive session. "If there are people in that executive session who feel that I need to know things that go on in that meeting, then I feel that I don't need to be there," he said. "By not being there, I can blab what they said about because I didn't get it in the executive session," he added. Angst then withdrew his request for the public hearing, saying, "you won't have to spend a penny." Director Irene Genther then moved that Angst be allowed to return to executive session, a motion that was seconded by Angst. Director David Hiles then moved to table the motion. Angst and Genther voted against the tabling; however, the motion passed as the rest of the board voted for tabling the matter. Directors Anthony Pondish and Koreen Nalesnik were absent from the meeting.

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