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Woodland Hills appoints controversial choice for acting superintendent

NORTH BRADDOCK, Pa. — The Woodland Hills School District Board of School Directors appointed Dr. Daniel Castagna as acting superintendent, effective immediately.

Castagna was not the first choice of many in the district after his checkered past. Parents expressed concerns to Channel 11 about the board considering him for the top job after allegations of intimidating board members, asking employees to complete private work on school district time and lying about his DUI history.

A special meeting was held Friday where the board approved his hire.

Here’s a message from the district about the appointment:

The Woodland Hills School District Board of School Directors has appointed Dr. Daniel Castagna as acting superintendent, effective immediately. Dr. Castagna replaces Mr. James Harris, who departed the district on December 17, 2021. Dr. Castagna will lead the district while the Board of School Directors conducts a search for a permanent superintendent over the ensuing months.

The decision came via a vote at a special legislative meeting held by the district on Friday, January 28. Dr. Castagna’s appointment carries a term of one year or until the district hires a new superintendent, whichever date comes first. He was sworn in by Justice Thomas Caulfield following the meeting.

“During the course of our search for an acting superintendent, we had the opportunity to speak with both internal and external candidates. During the process, Dr. Castagna earned the support of the majority of the board,” said board member Carlton Scott, who was part of the interview committee. “We understand that there has been heightened attention and discussion regarding this decision, but we truly believe that Dr. Castagna will faithfully and expertly guide the Woodland Hills School District during this transition period.”

Dr. Castagna comes to Woodland Hills after previously serving as the superintendent at the West Mifflin School District from 2007 to 2019. Prior to that, Dr. Castagna was an assistant principal in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District from 2005 to 2007 and a teacher in the Hopewell Area School District from 1999 to 2005.

“I appreciate the Woodland Hills School District giving me this opportunity to serve as its acting superintendent,” Dr. Castagna said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the school board, administrators, teachers, staff, students and families so that together we can achieve excellence on every level. We have a great faculty in place and the students in our district are capable of delivering great things. I am here to help that happen.”

The Woodland Hills School District is a public school district in Allegheny County that serves the communities of Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, and Wilkins Township.

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