Trinity’s Kasunich nearly hit police car, report says

February 7, 2014
Trinity Area School District Superintendent Paul Kasunich

A police report released by Ohio Township police reveals more details in the DUI arrest of Trinity Area School District Superintendent Paul Kasunich last weekend.

According to the report, Kasunich nearly struck a police car on Mt. Nebo Road shortly before 2 a.m. when he crossed into the opposite lane, forcing the officer to swerve onto the berm to avoid a collision.

The officer, who was traveling south, said he turned his cruiser around and followed Kasunich, who was driving erratically.

The officer pulled Kasunich over at Mt. Nebo Road and the on-ramp of Interstate 79, and said Kasunich smelled of alcohol and had red, bloodshot eyes. Kasunich told the officer he consumed a “couple drinks,” the report states.

The officer said he asked Kasunich to step out of his car and walk to the rear of the vehicle, and Kasunich swayed and almost fell against the vehicle.

After Kasunich failed three sobriety tests, police transported him to Sewickley Valley Hospital for blood tests. The results are not immediately available.

Kasunich was then taken to the Ohio Township police station and charged with drunken driving, and later released.

According to a press release issued by district solicitor Dennis Makel, Kasunich was suspended with pay and benefits on Thursday by the Trinity Area School Board while the district investigates “the incidents involving the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and other circumstances related to his position as superintendent of the Trinity Area School District.”

Makel said the district is still collecting information related to the DUI arrest. Kasunich has declined to comment.

“The district is taking the matter very seriously and intends to follow the law, and also is concerning itself with the best interest of its students and residents,” said Makel.

There is no state law prohibiting a superintendent from serving in that position because of a DUI charge, but according to a section of the Pennsylvania School Code, a superintendent may be removed from office and have their contracts terminated, following a hearing, for “neglect of duty, incompetency, intemperance, or immorality.”

A hearing is scheduled for March 13 before District Judge Tara Smith of Sewickley.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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