After near-firing, Penk named Austintown athletic director


A little more than a year after his demotion, James Penk has been given the position of athletic director of Austintown schools.

Austintown Board of Education approved Penk’s new position during a Thursday evening regular meeting.

Don Sherwood, board president, said Penk has always expressed interest in Austintown sports and has “a great pulse on the community.”

“The coaching staff loves him, and the community loves him,” Sherwood said. “He deserved to be rewarded for all the hard work he’s done.”

Penk was demoted in June 2017 to assistant principal of Austintown Fitch High School from his position as Austintown Middle School principal.

The investigation leading to his demotion probed two instances of alleged misbehavior, which Superintendent Vince Colaluca said at the time were severe enough for the district to consider Penk’s termination.

A report said Penk had a large kitchen knife in his desk, and he joked around with the knife on multiple occasions when meeting with subordinates.

Penk also failed to properly address or report employee behavior that would violate board policy and/or Ohio law regarding use of sick leave. There also was an employee complaint involving harassment or discrimination, the agreement said.

But Sherwood said Penk is deserving of the new position.

Read more about the matter in Friday's Vindicator or on

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