Dear Mr O'Shea,
Congratulations on having been selected as the next President of the Scranton School Board. As you've probably been told already, many times, you certainly have a tough job in front you. State budget cuts, professional contracts, decaying buildings, poor test scores: the list goes on. However, I think there is one issue that rises above all others, and I'm publicly asking you to address it as your first order of business.
Yes, in my opinion trust is the most important issue facing the Scranton School District. In fact, I'd call it a crisis of trust. The public that pays for the operations of the Scranton School District simply doesn't trust your Board. They believe that the Board exists as a glorified employment agency for the connected and related. They believe that the Board puts the personal interests of Directors and Administrators in front of all else, including what should be the central mission of the Board: educating our children.
As someone with military experience, I am sure you understand how important discipline is in running an efficient and effective organization. Disciplined operations have a vision, have a mission, and they have values. And they test all of their actions against this vision, mission and values. I dare suspect that nothing in the vision, mission and values of the Scranton School Board includes "employment for friends and relatives". However, as long as the actions of the Board are perceived as being motivated by personal gain on the part of Directors and Adminstrators, all of the actions of the Board will be tainted.
You, now, can make a difference.
Make one of your first actions the adoption of a tough anti-nepotism policy. Simply put, the District should NEVER hire relatives of Directors or Administrators. Ever. Period. I know, I hear the cries now: "but the relatives that have been hired were highly qualified!", which may be true, but there are many non-related but highly qualified individuals out there looking for work. Has the Board ever hired a relative or friend that anyone admitted to being not "highly qualified"? Of course not! Again, the issue isn't one of talent: there is plenty of non-relative talent out there looking for work. Again, the real issue is about trust, and right now we, the taxpayers, don't trust the Board. As previously noted, this lack of trust taints everything the Board does.
Make the difference Mr O'Shea. Do something shocking: stop the Scranton School District from continuing to be perceived as an employment agency for the family members of the connected.
Resident & Taxpayer, City of Scranton