Parents React to Principal's Dismissal

By Aaron Cheslock
March 1, 2013

[with video]

JOHNSTOWN, CAMBRIA COUNTY - Principal Ken Salem was removed as Principal of Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown today.

The school's board of trustees released a statement saying that Salem will be removed immediately, but did not explain why. The spokesman for the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese says it was the board's decision, but they weren't given a reason either. WTAJ News talked to concerned parents Friday night.

We went to Bishop McCort's basketball game on Friday to talk to parents, a school official was telling parents not to talk to us, and wouldn't let us talk to the basketball coach.

But the parents we did talk to want to know if Ken Salem's firing had to do with the alleged sex crimes of Brother Steven Baker.

Salem's Lawyer says Salem didn't know about Baker's alleged crimes. But parents like Laura Neatrour want answers.

"I want to know why, because I do like Mr. Salem as a person and as the Principal, I think he did a wonderful job."

Laura Neatrour's asking the obvious question. Bishop McCort Principal Ken Salem was fired on Friday, and parents like Neatrour got an e-mail.

"...I don't really know, nothing much more was really said, just that he was stepping down immediately."

Neatrour dropped her two Freshman twins off at the Bishop McCort basketball game Friday night. She's a self described "Crusher for Life". She graduated from Bishop McCort in 1992.

"I'm proud that my children go to Bishop McCort and I always will be..."

 Ever since the alleged sex crimes against Stephen Baker went public, Neatrour says Bishop McCort students have dealt with insults and embarrassment.

Five more people filed lawsuits against local religious institutions and leaders including Bishop McCort High because of Baker's alleged sex crimes. He was a Teacher and Trainer at Bishop McCort in the late 1990's. He killed himself in a Monastery in Hollidaysburg in late January.

Neatrour believes Salem's statement that he didn't know about Baker's crimes.

"I would think he'd be a kids advocate more than cover something up, that's my opinion. "Why do you say that?" Because I think that if a child went to him with a problem like this, that he'd help the kid."

We asked Neatrour what she'll tell her kids when they ask about Ken Salem.

"To be honest I don't have to tell them about Mr. Salem. They know him, from being there every single day, they're all heartbroken. They're all team Salem, team Salem... He was great principal."

The other question is if it is connected to the Baker crimes, how? Salem's only been Bishop McCourt's Principal since 2006. Baker was there in the late 1990's. Neatrour says the parents she's talked to are heartbroken, but was adamant that they're thinking about Bakers alleged victims.

She says she'll be praying for them.


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