Accused Central Bucks teacher Joseph Ohrt was paid while on leave

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Former Central Bucks School District choir director Joseph Ohrt raised more than $50,000 while on furlough before his sudden resignation last month, according to district records obtained through a lawsuit request. to know.

The payments included more than $4,300 for performing extra duties during the time he was not working in the district, according to records obtained by this news outlet, and nearly $2,000 for an extra hour of work. The records contained no details about what those chores or extra work were, or whether they were done before Ohrt went on leave.

Ohrt was arrested in February for secretly filming a former student stripping naked at his home. Since his arrest, Central Bucks School District officials have declined to comment on whether the 56-year-old Buckingham man was being paid while on a three-month furlough that began before the school board formally approved it in december.

Employees who take a leave of absence without pay are not considered active employees of the district, but they may retain their district health, dental, and group insurance plans if paid in advance the entire premium to the district, under the current CB Education Association contract.

Paid leave is available for employees who have a personal illness, but any absence beyond three consecutive work days requires an employee to provide medical documentation signed by an attending physician upon return, according to the contract.

Employees aren’t required to share the specific reason for using time off, according to the district, and it declined to disclose whether Ohrt provided a reason for his time off, “because the records would disclose identifiable health information. individually”.

Most of the money paid to Ohrt — about $49,294 — came from 90 days of unused sick leave from Oct. 26, when his leave began, district officials said.

Records show Ohrt had a balance of 142 sick days as of March 17; under the teachers’ current contract, union members are not paid for unused sick leave once they leave the district, according to a district source.

At the time of his resignation, records show Ohrt also had five unused personal days, worth an additional $2,2379.28, that he could cash out under the union contract.

Ohrt, who was a teacher and music director at Central Bucks West, also received two payments of $1,920 on Nov. 15 and Jan. 31 for an hour of extra responsibilities, called EDRs, records show. The posts also suggested that Ohrt would receive an EDR salary for March and May of this year.

EDRs are additional compensation for duties performed regularly beyond the normal workday for non-classroom, extracurricular activities for students as per the district teacher contract.

A separate post listed as “payment for student activities” showed Ohrt received $500 on January 14.

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District spokeswoman Angela Linch did not respond to emails asking why Ohrt was receiving payments for EDR and student activities when he was not working.

Earlier this month, the school board unanimously approved the resignation of Ohrt, who had taught in the district for 34 years, and rescinded his previously approved request for retirement. The waived request will not interfere with Ohrt’s ability to retire as of June 10 as he is eligible.

Ohrt worked in schools in the district, but his home base for 20 years was Central Bucks West. His salary for the 2021-2022 school year was $114,863, according to the school district.

Ohrt is awaiting trial on a felony charge of secretly recording a now-adult former Central Bucks West student changing clothes at Ohrt’s.

The arrest prompted two former students to come forward with allegations that Ohrt inappropriately touched them more than 20 years ago, leading to additional charges of indecent assault involving a minor and bribery. of a minor. A preliminary hearing on those charges is scheduled for next month.

His resignation does not prevent him from applying for his state pension now through the Pennsylvania Public Schools Employee Retirement System.

As of last Friday, PSERS had Ohrt’s status as “done” and acquired, meaning his pension is available if he applies for it.

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