Ron Tomalis

A new audit from the state's auditor general gives the Pennsylvania Department of Education poor marks for how it deals with academically struggling schools and special employees.

The report, covering mid-2010 to mid-2015, finds that the agency failed to provide special help to most poor-performing schools unless it was expressly required by federal law.

The new scores were adopted in 2012 to assess and compare schools. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said during a press conference Tuesday that merely labeling sub-par schools is of little service.

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says an ongoing audit of the state Department of Education will now also look into certain employees, including Ron Tomalis, the former secretary and special advisor to the governor who resigned under a cloud of criticism this past August.

Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the in-progress audit will review special advisors, contractors and short-term employees.

“It’s not just about Mr. Tomalis,” DePasquale said. “It’s an issue broadly about are people being hired and they don’t have an actual role to play?”

An education adviser to the governor is stepping down from his post, weeks after a newspaper report found little evidence he was working.

Ron Tomalis’ resignation letter includes a list of his accomplishments as a special adviser on higher education. Those accomplishments were called into question by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report last month that found little in schedule documents, phone logs or interviews to suggest Tomalis had been doing much in his job paying nearly $140,000 a year.

Gov. Tom Corbett is defending his former Secretary of Education. Ron Tomalis left the cabinet post in May 2013 and was immediately appointed as special adviser to the Secretary of Education at the same annual salary of nearly $140,000.

But there have been calls for everything from a legislative inquiry to a formal ethics investigation into whether Tomalis is actually working to earn his pay.

Gov. Tom Corbett says he'll name a central Pennsylvania public school superintendent as his new education secretary, with outgoing Ron Tomalis becoming an adviser on higher education issues.

Corbett said in a statement Wednesday that he'll nominate Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent William Harner as education secretary.

Corbett's statement didn't explain the reason for the change.

A state senator has said he wants information about financially ailing school districts so the state can help out before it’s too late.

Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny) met with state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis asking for information on all school districts that have been designated for financial watch status or identified for monitoring.

The problem, however, isn’t that the Department of Education (DOE) is withholding a list from the senator, but Tomalis told Brewster the problem is there currently is no complied list of schools in trouble.

Education Secretary Wants to Cut Backlog of Complaints

Mar 4, 2013

The head of the Pennsylvania Department of Education is looking for a way to solve a buildup of complaints against schoolteachers. 

About $775,000 is being requested to pay for additional lawyers to investigate teacher complaints and help fund the state commission overseeing teacher certifications. The funding will come from an increase in the teacher certification fee.

Education Secretary Ron Tomalis said the funds will help clear up a pile of roughly 500 cases in which teachers face misconduct allegations.