Acanfora decision due today



of The Mirror staff

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Some kind of a decision should be released today on whether or not 21-year-old Joseph Acanfora will be permitted to teach in Pennsylvania.

A six-man panel of college deans at Penn State met with Acanfora, who received his diploma in June, and his attorney, Leonard Sharon of Pittsburgh, Monday to discuss whether Acanfora possessed sufficient “moral character” to merit certification as a public school teacher.

Acanfora told The Mirror Monday night that, at the request of the deans, he would not comment on the substance of the meeting. He said the deans indicated that publicity surrounding these proceedings had put pressure on them and, because of this, Acanfora said he agreed to withhold comment.

The controversy surrounding the Brick Town, N.J. man began last winter when he agreed to become a plaintiff in an equity suit, filed by the Homophiles of Penn State (HOPS) against Penn State.

In this suit, two members and two non-members of the homosexuality education group charged that Penn State’s decision to deny HOPS an official student charter was arbitrary and unconstitutional.

At the time the suit was filed, Acanfora was assigned to the Park Forest Junior High School as a student teacher in the earth and space sciences. At the request of the school district, he was removed from that position and subsequently, by court order, reinstated.

In early May, Acanfora was informed by the dean of his college, Abraham W. VanderMeer of the College of Education, that there was some question as to whether the college could attest to his moral character -- a prerequisite for certification in Pennsylvania.

The matter then was turned over to the University Teacher Certification Council (UTCC), as is required when a college dean has some question on a student’s qualifications.

The UTCC has met several times in the last two months without reaching a decision on the Acanfora case. The council asked Acanfora to appear before it on several occasions, but he said he had declined to do so until he had some idea about the topics to be discussed.

Acanfora received his bachelor’s degree from Penn State following the close of spring term, but the matter of his certification as a teacher remained to be decided.

Serving on the UTCC are the deans of the colleges of liberal arts, arts and architecture, science, agriculture, education, and health, physical education and recreation.