Ambridge Area School Board approved the hiring of a private investigator Wednesday in regards to the high school JROTC instructor.
The contract was approved unanimously for services with Center Township-based CSI Corporate Security and Investigations to look into 1st Sgt. Carl Curtis at a cost not to exceed $4,000.
On Thursday, Beaver County Judge William Livingston dismissed charges against Curtis’ wife, Kathleen Curtis, who was accused of hitting her husband in the head with a beer mug. The Trib reports that Carl Curtis did not want to go forward with prosecution.
JROTC students and parents were vocal Wednesday night in defending the the program and 1st Sgt. Curtis.
Virginia Johnson, a four-year cadet who graduated last year, said she still talks to Curtis and knows he’s someone who can be counted on.
“We’re not saying first sergeant didn’t make a mistake...Just don’t take him away permanently. That’s not fair to the cadets that are coming and the cadets that are there right now because they need some role model in their life.”
Justin Nance, an 11th grader, who serves as platoon commander and company gunnery sergeant, said there are numerous ways the JROTC program has changed his life for the better.
“It has given me the leadership skills I have today, the self-confidence and initiative.”
“He’s helped me so much with public speaking, with just getting out of my shell. He’s done so much for everybody. I think it’s just a shame for him to be judged for one thing.”
Students and parents also raised concerns that privileges were being taken away and that students are essentially being punished for what happened.
Tammy Bracken of Freedom, whose son is a second-year student in the JROTC program, said changes with field trips now require forms and permission slips to be signed in order for students to ride with other parents.
She said students were supposed to participate in a 24-hour rotation at the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, but they aren’t being allowed to take an evening shift or do school hours.
“Are you doing that for the football team too? If not, then you are punishing the cadets for something that happened to 1st Sergeant,” she said.
Superintendent Cynthia Zurchin said she apologizes if there has been some confusion regarding to field trips. She said there are some forms the district is asking to be completed, but field trips are going to continue as planned with Master Sgt. Thomas Short working out the evening hours with parents.
Resident Rich Vallecorsa commended all of the young people who spoke.
“They have truly learned about the term ‘loyalty,’" he said. "I hope very shortly after the situation is resolved that they learn the term ‘lead by example.’”
Board President MC Knafelc said the district supports the JROTC program “wholeheartedly” and that the program will continue.
“We are in the process of investigating all of the things that occurred and are unable to comment on them because there are legal issues at this point, but we will do our due diligence and we will calmly look at all the evidence before decisions are made,” Knafelc said.
Like Ambridge Connection on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.