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Moniteau votes for confidential administrative assistant; second vaping settlement

CHERRY TWP — Moniteau School District Board voted 5-3 in favor of Deanna Panza, wife of school board president Michael Panza, to assume a position as confidential administrative assistant to the superintendent at a meeting on Monday, Sept. 25.

Panza abstained from voting. Prior to the vote, the board met in an executive session one board director described as “tense.” There was no public comment by the board before or after the vote.

Michael Baptiste, Kathy McBride and Matthew Zietz voted against the hire.

Board directors also approved a second settlement in the amount of $6,572 from a nationwide lawsuit initiated by Frantz Law Group against electronic cigarette manufacturers. Nearly 1,000 schools from 38 states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Nevada, Florida, Maryland and Virginia participated in the lawsuit alleging that JUUL Labs led to an increase in children vaping by marketing its nicotine-filled products, many of them candy-flavored, to youth.

According to Frantz Law Group, JUUL Labs has also knowingly misrepresented the safety of its products.

“We saw an increase in students in our district vaping,” superintendent Aubrie Schnelle said after the meeting.

The date that the district will receive the sum is not yet known. The district joined the lawsuit in 2020, Schnelle said after the meeting. The first settlement of around $21,000 was received in February, and was used to purchase and install 10 vape detectors in high school bathrooms. The second settlement amount will be used similarly, she said.

Solar panel project

Moniteau’s solar panel project is in its final stages. Jeff Campbell, director of buildings and grounds, said roughly 4,000 solar panels will be implemented at Dassa McKinney Elementary School and Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School.

Solar panel installation began Monday at the elementary school and will continue this week. The structure for the panels will be installed at the high school Tuesday, Campbell said, with the panels being installed later this week.

The eco-friendly project was executed by environmental design firm BAI Group at no cost to the district, and has already saved the district $2.1 million with the installation of the high school’s new roof, board directors noted at a meeting on Aug. 14.

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