Dr. Paul T. Kasunich, who currently is under suspension from his position as superintendent of Trinity Area School District, was formally arraigned Friday in Allegheny County Court on two counts of of drunken driving and related traffic citations filed in February in Ohio Township.
At the formal arraignment, he was scheduled for admission to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first offenders on the morning of Friday, May 30, before Judge Robert C. Gallo, according to court records available on a statewide website.
He remains free on his own recognizance. Kasunich’s attorney is Robert G. DelGreco Jr.
Kasunich, 55, of Sewickley, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of drunken driving, including one count of having a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 percent or higher. In Kasunich’s case, police charge the level was 0.207 percent, about two and a half times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. He also is charged with summary offenses of disregarding a traffic lane and careless driving.
According to an Ohio Township police report, Kasunich nearly struck a police car on Mt. Nebo Road shortly before 2 a.m. when his vehicle crossed into the opposite lane, forcing the officer to swerve onto the berm to avoid a collision. 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.
Kasunich was suspended with pay and benefits shortly thereafter by 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.”
He later waived his right to hear the prosecution’s case in a preliminary hearing before District Judge Tara Smith.
ARD allows first-time offenders who successfully complete the program, which typically includes a year of probation, to have charges against them dismissed and their record expunged.
Kasunich said in March that he regrets his actions that night.
“I recognize I made a mistake, and I fully intend to take responsibility for it,” Kasunich said. “If there’s any way I can make a positive out of a negative, I want to do that.”
His attorney also weighed in at that time.
“I know that he regrets his transgression,” DelGreco said. “It’s an embarrassment to him and a message that he does not want to send to students. A DUI is not acceptable. He realizes that and will suffer the punishment due to him as a result of that. He’s particularly bothered by the fact that as someone who’s the superintendent of a school district, it’s behavior contrary to the message and the teachings of the Trinity School District.”
This is the second time Kasunich was placed on paid administrative leave at Trinity. In November 2010, Kasunich was charged with simple assault following a fight with his girlfriend, but the charge was later dismissed. At that time, Kasunich was suspended with pay for a few weeks and then returned to work while the case went through the legal system.
Trinity in 2010 hired Kasunich, who previously served as superintendent for Blackhawk Area School District.