MONROEVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) — Gateway School District leaders Tuesday addressed the charges surrounding its suspended band director.
James Hoeltje is charged with giving a student alcohol. According to the criminal complaint, Hoeltje gave an 18-year-old student alcohol on a band trip in Virginia Beach and before the prom. KDKA-TV learned that about 50 students and at least nine chaperones were on the trip.
At a school board meeting on Tuesday, parents had a chance to talk with school leaders for the first time.
"It's been an incredibly terrifying situation but really great how quickly you guys told us what's going on," one parent said.
Tuesday was the first time Gateway's school board and superintendent addressed the allegations together.
"The trust was broken, and I can assure the public that we are correcting those issues," Gateway Superintendent William Short said. "We will not tolerate anyone who violates the trust of children."
"There's been outrage from the community. And understandably, they would like to see one specific head roll," Gateway School Board President Jack Bova said.
has not resigned yet, and the district is waiting for Monroeville police to finish its investigation.
Solicitor Bruce Dice said whether the school board decides to terminate Hoeltje or whether he decides to resign, he is allowed a due process hearing to tell his side of the story.
The district can't take further disciplinary steps until that happens.
"I know it's frustrating, but let the police do their job," Dice said. "Police investigate, we teach, we educate."
Bova said officials are reviewing policies and wonder how this could have happened on the band trip.
"Were there an inadequate amount of chaperones? Were the chaperones prepared to do that thing we expect them to do?" Bova said
Dice said the district will send its findings to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which could take action if there was any educator misconduct.
The superintendent said an announcement about the marching band resuming could come as early as Thursday.
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