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East Greenville Wins Termination Hearing
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2019-05-15

            A hearing officer ruled in favor of East Greenville Borough Council in the termination of police Chief Andrew Skelton. In a one-paragraph ruling issued to borough officials late Monday night, Melissa Fiala issued her decision in an email with four separate attachments, according to Skelton. Fiala found a sufficient basis, based upon the evidence of record, for his termination, according to her order.

            "While I am certainly disappointed over Ms. Fiala's decision, the outcome at this stage was expected and does not change what options are afforded to me under the law," Skelton wrote in a prepared statement.

            Mayor Keith Gerhart did not disclose any details of Fiala's findings, which he received at 11:52 p.m. Monday evening. In a text message received Tuesday morning, Gerhart stated that municipal officials would discuss the findings at a special public meeting, which has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, according to information posted on the borough's Facebook page. 

            According to the retired state trooper, the underlying issue was whether or not an employee is required to disclose medical treatment information to the employer regarding an illness that is not work related, and if the employee can be terminated for refusing to comply with such an order, according to his statement received Tuesday. "As those who request a copy of the transcript will learn, my contention was that an employee does not, and I refused to be intimidated in providing such information."

            Skelton surmised that Fiala's position is that "an employee must reveal all medical treatment information when ordered, regardless of its cause or origin."

            Gerhart recommended that Borough Council dismiss Skelton – who took himself off duty at 4 p.m. on Sept. 6 for an undisclosed reason – for professional neglect and violation of his official duties, according to Michael Peters, East Greenville's solicitor. 

            Fiala, a Bensalem Township attorney was hired by borough council to officiate the hearing, which lasted approximately five weeks. Skelton, a Hereford native, was hired in May of 2017 to advise council on the creation of a new police department. He was named the interim chief later in the month. The position was made permanent two months later.

             In September, one day before placing himself on leave, Skelton expressed shock at a decision by Gerhart to publically disclose details of Project X at the borough's police station located in Colonial Village during a Sept. 3 council meeting. Municipal officials had previously attempted to keep that activity secret, citing officer security.

            The police chief described the disclosure as "reckless and negligent," adding that the mayor's words put him and his staff at risk. After the meeting, Gerhart said he made the announcement because a current member of council discussed the details at a public meeting earlier this year.

            Further, the mayor claimed that the proposal to install steel plates at the station was mentioned during meetings in 2017 and that those references are reflected in the corresponding meeting minutes.


 

 

 

 

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