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Tue Aug 27, 2013, 04:51 AM

William Harner, acting Pennsylvania education secretary, resigns abruptly [View all]

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday forced out his nominee to lead the state Department of Education, William Harner, three months after the selection was announced.

The government source said that Mr. Harner's troubles began in January or February, when an employee of the school district, while vacationing, received an email from Mr. Harner asking how the employee looked in a Speedo swimsuit. That email, according to the source, led to a complaint to the district's human resources office, which in turn led to the school board hiring outside counsel to investigate the matter. That outside counsel turned up more than a dozen other complaints about Mr. Harner, most involving comments he made in poor taste.

His personality "rubbed people the wrong way," the source said. The school board's behind-closed-doors probe was running concurrent to the Corbett administration's own vetting. On May 15, Mr. Corbett announced that his education secretary, Ron Tomalis, would leave the department to become an adviser to the governor on higher education, and that he would nominate Mr. Harner as secretary.

Sometime this month, the source said, the Corbett administration caught wind of the fact that the Cumberland Valley school board had held a closed-door vote to not renew Mr. Harner's contract. Sen. Andrew Dinniman of Chester County, the ranking Democrat on the Education Committee, said the announcement Monday showed a failure by the administration in checking its nominee. "If the governor's office is going to put people before the Senate without proper vetting, how in the future can we trust any nominee he puts before us?" Mr. Dinniman said. "Why did it take three months, while education is facing crucial questions?"

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/politics-state/william-harner-acting-pennsylvania-education-secretary-resigns-abruptly-700825/#ixzz2d9nKH0HU

Interesting that the investigation by the "outside counsel" for the Cumberland Valley School Board turned up "more than a dozen" complaints, but then tries to downplay the severity by calling them simply "in poor taste". Defense counsel's "poor taste" is a District Attorney's sexual harassment crime, and clearly the school board's own outside counsel wouldn't want to open up any doors to lawsuits. Classic institutional reaction: scandal control.

So, did any of those complaints involve students, or only people working for the school district? Sandusky redux? Will Cumberland Valley be able to suppress all those complaints? According to Harner's biography on Project Vote Smart, he also has a long-standing involvement with Boy Scouts of America. Another red flag to be investigated.


Member, Boy Scouts of America, present.
Former Board Member, Blue Ridge Council, South Carolina.
Former Member, New Birth of Freedom Council, Pennsylvania.

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