Last updated: August 04. 2013 12:26AM - 1914 Views

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Hey, funny story…

Once there were these two school districts shamed — really, really shamed — by a massive federal corruption probe that swept through this county. Let’s call it Luzerne County, because that’s where it was. And let’s call these two districts Pittston Area and Wilkes-Barre Area, because, well, you know.

Crooks were getting snared right and left. County judges, county commissioners, county employees, business men, attorneys … Yet despite countless rumors and a few confirmed facts, school boards — long believed by many taxpayers to be among the most chronically corrupt government entities around — seemed relatively unscathed. Except for these two.

So Pittston Area’s superintendent goes down, and a school board member, and the son of an ex-school board member who happened to be working at a career and technology center. And three — count ‘em, three — Wilkes-Barre Area members get busted, two of them board presidents.

Big hullabaloo. Some serious hand-wringing and earnest-looking efforts at reform (well, maybe not so earnest-looking at WBA, but at least they put on a show).

And hiring was at the hub of most of it, so much so that PA popped out a new hiring policy in what was probably record time around here … certainly record time compared to WBA, which took nearly three years before agreeing to a policy so watered down you could barely taste the “reform.”

Three titillating tidbits on that:

• The WBA policy was primarily drawn up by Robert Corcoran, a member who openly pushed to get a promotion for his wife, a worker in the district before he got on the board;

• Corcoran moved to Germany to take a job, admitted he kept no physical residence in the district, and still tried to stay on the board via Skype participation in one board meeting (he’s gone now);

• And this wasn’t just a new hiring policy, it was the first written teacher hiring policy for Wilkes-Barre Area in at least decades … quite possibly the first ever.

But enough digression. Did you see Thursday’s paper?

Wilkes-Barre Area — which for a while seemed to subscribe to the subpoena-of-the-month club — ignored the recommendations of the interview committee set up courtesy of the new hiring policy and gave a job to Brian Leighton, brother of Wilkes-Barre City Mayor Tom Leighton.

Over at Pittston Area, Board Member Bob Linskey accused the majority of ignoring the hiring policy on a whole slew of appointments, a charge the majority rejected. But the really big news: The Pittston Area board hired James “Red” O’Brien as warehouse supervisor. “We need someone who can track all the district’s assets,” Board president Charles Sciandra said.

Ummm … yes … though the thought occurs: Shouldn’t someone have been doing that since, say, the birth of the district?

And yes, that is the same O’Brien whose resume includes Former Pittston Area School Board member and president, Luzerne County recorder of deeds, and Luzerne County district judge candidate.

But rest assured, “Red” was hired for his qualifications, not his connections … just like Brian Leighton.

You’re still waiting for the “funny” part of the story, aren’t you?

It’s not funny as in “Ha Ha!”

It’s not even funny as in strange.

This is classic Luzerne County “funny business.”

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