Lawyer thought credit card dispute had been resolved

Last updated: February 27. 2014 11:37PM - 2097 Views
By - mguydish@timesleader.com

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The attorney representing former West Side Career and Technology Center Administrative Director Nancy Tkatch said he thought the dispute regarding charges Tkatch made on a school credit card totaling about $10,000 had been “resolved well over a year ago,” and he doesn’t “believe she stole anything.”

“I thought the issues had all been addressed,” attorney William Vinsko said of questions raised about whether credit card charges were appropriate.

Vinsko also said Tkatch’s decision to step down Monday was a retirement, not a resignation, essentially pushing her intent to retire this June up by four months.

Vinsko and attorney Charles Coslett, solicitor for the Joint Operating Committee that runs West Side, declined to turn over records of disputed charges. Both cited the fact that Coslett, at the request of JOC members, had turned over his findings to Kingston police for a possible criminal investigation.

At Monday’s JOC meeting, Coslett said he had spent several weeks investigating the credit card bills and determined some charges were inappropriate. He said he met with Tkatch twice last week, and she then submitted a letter of resignation along with a check for $7,000 to cover disputed charges. Another $3,000 is supposed to be covered by a grant, Coslett added. Coslett said Tkatch had been very cooperative.

Coslett cited the involvement of Kingston police in denying a right-to-know request submitted by The Times Leader to see the credit card bills. In an email, he pointed to part of the state Right To Know law that allows a public agency to deny a request if the records sought are “relating to or resulting in a criminal investigation.”

“As you know, I was directed to turn the matter over to Kingston Police Department, which I did,” Coslett wrote. “Therefore, as the records relate to a criminal investigation, which is in its infancy, I cannot jeopardize their efforts by releasing what otherwise would be public records subject to disclosure.”

Tkatch, 56, became West Side administrative director in July 2011, replacing retiring Betsy Ellis. Before that, Tkatch was superintendent at Northwest Area School District from 2004 to 2011. She stepped down when the School Board decided not to renew her contract.

Her tenure at West Side got off to a rocky start. She took over at a time when the JOC, composed of members of school boards from the five districts sending students to the center, was struggling with a budget deficit and considering suspending sports programs. A divided board narrowly approved doing so before her first official day on the job.

But the budget also must be approved by a majority of all members of each sending school board, by at least five members of each school board.

It failed to get full approval and the budget battle dragged into July, after Tkatch became administrative director. In the end, all five sports programs were cut along with a school recruiter and an in-school suspension officer.

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