Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 12, 2013

Outgoing PENNCREST president sets sights on ending fluoride program

SAEGERTOWN — One of Luigi DeFrancesco’s last acts before his term ends as PENNCREST School Board president will be to bring a vote to eliminate the districtwide program that distributes fluoride tablets to participating students. The vote will come Thursday at the meeting that begins at 7 p.m. at Maplewood Junior-Senior High School at the intersection of Guys Mills-Townville Road and Maplewood Road in Randolph Township.

DeFrancesco, who lost a primary bid for a slot on ballot in the recent election, made the announcement during the board’s work session Monday night. School board members elected in the November election take their seats in all of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts during reorganization meetings that are required by law to be scheduled during the first week of December.

“The board has the authority to eliminate any program not mandated by Pennsylvania Department of Education,” DeFrancesco said. “The board should allow the administration to handle problems, but the administration cannot stop or begin a program without board approval.”

After announcing that he wants the board to vote on eliminating the fluoride program, “It’s time that we take a vote so my conscience is cleaned,” he said.

When board member Trudy Whitman asked if the board shouldn’t wait for what she described a “an outstanding issue” to be resolved before taking action, Ted Watts, the district’s attorney, said that any discussion would have to take place in executive session. After the meeting, Watts refused to elaborate on the outstanding issue, other than to say that it falls into the “ongoing litigation” category of topics that qualify to be discussed privately in executive sessions.

“If we don’t want the policy, the only thing we have to do is vote,” DeFrancesco said. “The board sets policy.”

When DeFrancesco raised the fluoride issue earlier this year, the board agreed to delay any action until after the unspecified issue had been resolved. At that time, DeFrancesco also agreed to delay presenting his arguments in favor of eliminating the fluoride program until that later date. As his time on the board draws to a close, however, DeFrancesco was clear that he wants the vote to be taken on Thursday.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

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