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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Rather fitting that the first three letters of 'nepotism' can point back to good ole Northeastern Pennsylvania. Case in point: recent appointments by the Scranton School District.

Put another way, once again the Scranton School District lives down to its reputation.

Article link HERE.

In the latest batch of job-fills we have the wife of a district administrator getting a clerk position and the hiring of an assistant principal at West Scranton High School who also happens to have a wife that works at that same school. Making matters more interesting is the fact that this newly hired assistant principal's attorney is also the SSD's solicitor.

Yes, I'm sure that it's just a coincidence that the deputy superintendent's wife was the most qualified for the special education clerk position. After all, there are about 900,000 people in the Scranton Wilkes-Barre MSA, so what are the odds that someone else would be more qualified for a CLERK position? Funny, but I can think of at least 30 soon-to-be outsourced employees from a large financial services company who are probably just as qualified for this job.

It was another coincidence that the new assistant principal has a business relationship with the school board's attorney. After all, there are so few lawyers in Scranton, so this kind of thing happens all the time, right?

Okay, I've dispensed with my daily dose of sarcasm, so let me get to the point: the Scranton School District is awash in family members and individuals who are connected via business and personal relationships. As such and at a minimum, it's in dire need of clear nepotism policy. If I were writing the policy I'd basically state it as follows: "the district may not ever hire the spouses or children of current or former board members, district administrators, or others within the district who have supervisory authority", period. Now does this mean that, on rare occasion, the district might not get the most qualified person for a job? Sure it does, but the trade-off is that the public would be assured the most qualified person for a job would be hired the vast majority of the time. What's more, such a policy would ensure that taxpayer money wasn't being used to create positions for family members.

Now my suggested policy wouldn't prevent all hiring abuses, but it would send a clear signal that the district has the public's best interest in mind when it makes hiring decisions.

Finally, no district employee should EVER be in a position to supervise...directly OR indirectly...a spouse or family member. It's clear from recent actions that the SSD administration is not serious about preventing this kind of abuse. Why is this so important? Simple: allowing these sorts of abuses creates, in my opinion, a toxic work environment for those individuals who are "non-connected".

Disclaimer: I should note that a member of my family is employed by the Scranton School District in a professional position. This individual was hired after spending years on professional hire eligibility lists and after substitute teaching in many of the district's schools. What's more, I do not have (nor did I have at the time of their hire) any professional relationships or associations with any of the district's board members or administrators.


Tom Borthwick said...

I love the embedded link! Great photo!

And I love the new photo on top!

Two great photos, one great blog!

Stephen Albert said...

Thanks Tom. I have to learn to use Photoshop for work stuff, so this was an excuse to play around.