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JROTC leader placed on administrative leave?

  • TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Major Kenneth Markovich
    TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Major Kenneth Markovich
Published March 01. 2013 05:04PM

The Panther Valley School Board on Thursday approved putting an employee, identified only by a number, on paid administrative leave, but not before one school director shouted out the man's name.

Roy Angst demanded the board release the employee's name, only to be told no by solicitor Robert T. Yurchak.

As the board voted, and as President Jeff Markovich hammered his gavel to quiet him, Angst shouted "Kenneth Markovich!" in front of a meeting room filled to overflowing with people who attended to oppose possible teacher cuts.

Angst also suggested Markovich was the employee in question in his online blog, published at 12:33 a.m. Thursday.

School officials did not release any more information than what was listed on the agenda, including the employee's name and the reason for the administrative leave.

Efforts to reach Markovich for comment early Friday were unsuccessful.

Markovich, a retired Army Major who is Senior Army Instructor of the district's JROTC program, had until recently been out for several months on medical leave.

Markovich, a 1984 Panther Valley graduate, was hired in 2009 to lead the U.S. Army JROTC program, the only one in Carbon County and one of just 28 in the state. The closest other program is in the Pine Grove Area School District in Schuylkill County.

The JROTC program has been on shakey ground for years. At a public meeting Thursday, school board President Jeff Markovich said he wants to see the program gone.

After twice failing, the school board in August finally settled on a new contract for the JROTC leader. School directors Richard Zabroski, David Hiles, Michelle Markovich, Anthony DeMarco, and Bill Hunsicker voted to approve the contract. Board President Jeff Markovich, who is Kenneth Markovich's brother, abstained from voting. Koreen Nalesnik, was opposed, as were Angst and Irene Genther, who had blocked the two previous attempts at approval.

The two failed attempts at a new contract were met with opposition from area veterans and veterans organizations, including Carbon County director of Veterans Affairs Henry Desrosiers.

Under the contract, Markovich was to have received $57,654.74 as of January. The U.S. Army sets the instructor's salary, and reimburses the school district for half the cost of the program. In the 2010-2011 school year, Markovich earned $56,576.58. The school district also provides a benefits package.

Assistant JROTC Instructor Joseph Jordan's salary from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 is $20,441, with a pay adjustment in January. His contract was approved in July.

Markovich was thrilled to have been hired in 2009.

"It's just a treat," he said at the time, "almost a surreal experience to come back here after 25 years and take over. This has been my goal forever."

Markovich has led his cadets in numerous parades, flag-raising ceremonies, Memorial Day services, and military funerals.

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