WILKES-BARRE – A written hiring policy once again failed to garner enough votes for adoption at the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board’s meeting on Tuesday.
The motion to adopt a written hiring policy – it’s been years and possibly decades since the district has had an actual written hiring policy in place – failed 4-4, with board members Lynn Evans, Christine Katsock and James Susek and board President Maryanne Toole voting against it. Board members Louis Elmy, Dino Galella and Phil Latinski and Hiring Policy Committee Chairman Robert Corcoran voted for it.
Board member John Quinn was absent. A majority of affirmative votes are needed for a motion to pass.
Toole said that even though she has been a strong proponent of a written hiring policy, she voted against the one presented by the Hiring Policy Committee because she “did not like the way it was written, especially the part about hiring relatives.”
Toole made a motion to write and adopt a written hiring policy back in December 2009 in the wake of federal charges against board members involving bribes for jobs. When the charges were levied, then-Superintendent Jeff Namey said the district has an unwritten procedure for hiring. That procedure, two board members had said, included members taking turns recommending candidates for interviews.
Toole on Wednesday said it bothered her that only a simple majority on the board is needed to hire a relative of a board member in the proposed policy voted on Tuesday night. In fact, she doesn’t think the practice should be allowed at all.
“I don’t think relatives should be hired,” Toole said.
“Do I think that if someone’s family member is best qualified for the job that they’re entitled to it? There are enough school districts in this area that, if you’re truly the most qualified, you should be able to get a job in one of those districts,” Evans said.
Evans also took issue with a section of the policy on veterans. She doesn’t think the spouses of veterans should receive hiring preference.
“Should it matter that someone is a veteran? Yes. My dad was in the military,” Evans said. “You served our country, you helped keep my family safe. But do I think that should extend to (the spouse of a veteran)? No.”
Evans said Corcoran was “adamant” about keeping that clause in the policy. “I don’t know if it’s because he wants his wife to get a job and he was in the service,” she said.
Corcoran and Elmy admitted at the Aug. 29 board meeting that they wanted their wives, who have worked in the district for years, to get promotions.
When the motion was made to appoint Sandra Elmy and Mary Claire Corcoran as teacher aides for 32.5 hours a week, Louis Elmy and Robert Corcoran each abstained from voting for their own wives but voted yes for the other man’s wife. With four board members – Toole, Evans, Susek and Katsock – voting no, the final tally was 4-4 with one abstention for each wife.
After seeing the votes fail, Corcoran had asked the board to reconsider, pointing out she was “the wife of a veteran” and thus merited veteran preference – something included in a new proposed hiring policy drawn up primarily by Corcoran.
No one on the board moved to reconsider, leaving the original vote stand as the board adjourned.
Attempts to reach Corcoran for this story were unsuccessful.
Board meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month – two days after work sessions. And the calendar on the school district’s website listed Wednesday as the meeting date for the school board.
But, Evans said, this week’s work session and meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday because of the Columbus Day holiday on Monday. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the district administration building, 730 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre.