With the impending departure of Dr. Joseph Pasquerilla, Bethel Park School District hired a temporary superintendent who has filled that role for several area school districts over the years.
Bethel Park School Board hired Dr. Joseph Dimperio to be interim superintendent starting April 4, during a meeting that was broadcast via Facebook Live March 24.
“To say the least, these are extremely challenging times,” Dimperio said via teleconference. “But I look forward to spending time in Bethel Park. You have an excellent reputation.”
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, most school directors, administrators and members of the public participated in the board meeting remotely to adhere to social distancing recommendations to stop the spread of the disease. The pandemic also prompted the closure of all schools in Pennsylvania through at least April 6. Bethel Park will start online and home-based learning the week of March 30.
Some school board members noted it’s a trying time for any school district, particularly one that is changing leadership. However, the board expressed confidence in Dimperio’s abilities to lead the district while the search for a permanent superintendent continues.
“He brings a tremendous amount of experience and wisdom to our district,” said director Vince Scalzo.
Dimperio’s career in education spans more than 50 years. He started as a teacher in Western Beaver School District as well as Pittsburgh Public School District. He later served as an administrator at Mt. Lebanon and superintendent at Ambridge and West Mifflin school districts. Since retiring, he has worked as an interim or temporary superintendent for several school districts, including Peters Township, South Side Area and most recently, Carlynton.
Dimperio will also lead the search for Bethel Park’s new superintendent. It’s a role he has filled for several area school districts.
Dimperio holds a Ph.D. in school administration from University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from Duquesne University.
He has also taught college courses at Carnegie Mellon, Gannon and Duquesne universities.
“He has already provided the District with insightful guidance and advice as we make preparations to deliver instruction to our students during the school closure period,” said board president Pam Dobos. “We look forward to the community welcoming him and getting to know him.”
Pasquerilla, who has been Bethel Park’s superintendent for four years, will leave to become the superintendent at Ambridge Area School District. Board members thanked Pasquerilla for his leadership. Dobos praised his work ethic and presented him with a Service to Education award.
“Thank you to all of the Bethel Park community,” Pasquerilla said via teleconference. “I’m very proud of the work that we did.”
During public comment, Dobos read from an email sent by former school Director Ron Werkmeister, who said Pasquerilla’s departure marked a sad time for Bethel Park. Werkmeister noted Pasquerilla saved the district millions of dollars and that the “craziness and uncertainty” with the new board, which took office in December, prompted Pasquerilla’s departure.
Members of the public could participate in the meeting by writing comments and submitting them through email. They could also participate via telephone by calling into the meeting.
Several board members said they were thrilled with the public participation with the new meeting format. About a dozen people commented through email or on the phone and at one point, more than 160 people were watching the video stream through Facebook.
Several parents asked questions about the online learning, which will start next week. However, board members noted administrators and teachers are still formulating plans.
“I am certain that our teachers, our support staff and our administrative leaders will work through this crisis and we will move forward with more specific education instructions for next week,” said Dobos.