Letters to the Editor

NEPOTISM POLICY APPLIES TO SOME

Editor:

The nepotism policy that the Avonworth School Board voted into existence a couple of years ago was put in place to restrict relatives of employees from being considered for a job with the school district. The statement, "this should apply especially to school board members and their families" was emphatically stated by certain board members at that time. The policy was not unanimously approved.

When the nepotism policy was being discussed, several of the board members who were most adamant were Patrick Stewart and Eric Templin. Templin stated that, "We do not want even the hint of impropriety, especially when it comes to school board members and/or their families."

However this all changed when his son Khiry Templin was hired in May with a motion at the June 14 board meeting to approve him retroactively. The motion did not pass, with of vote of 4 yes, 4 no, and one abstain. However, two days after the motion failed, it was back, with an emergency/special meeting being called. The meeting was not advertised in the local newspaper, The Citizen, where typically almost all committee special, work session, and board meetings are advertised. The motion passed at the June 23 emergency/special meeting where only four board members showed up and one voted by phone. The motion passed 5-0, two of the five members who showed up to revote changed their previous no vote to yes. One board member, who originally voted yes, was so disgusted by the whole thing that she decided not to show up at the emergency meeting.

When asked at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday July 12, why she changed her vote, board vice-president and past president Brenda Barlek stated that she changed her mind two days after the original vote because "she was ignorant of the policy." I'm not sure if board president Dave Oberdick's reason was the same, being he was not in attendance at the July 12 board meeting, however he was able to attend the emergency/special meeting where he changed his vote from no to yes.

An amendment was passed at the February board meeting to make an exception for part time/seasonal workers, at the request of our director of fiscal management, Brad Waters, in order for him to be able to hire the nephew of one of the maintenance personnel for field maintenance.

Even though this amendment to the nepotism policy allowed for Khiry Templin to be hired, it was not a requirement that he be hired, especially in light of his father's earlier statement.

Now the person whose family benefitted from this decision will sit in on the performance evaluation of our superintendent, and will determine how big of a raise she gets! Talk about not even a hint of impropriety, especially when it comes to board members and/or their families!

If we are going to have a policy, then let's have a policy even if it's one that I personally don't agree with. Let's not have a policy that's so watered down with amendments that it only impacts the smallest number of people, who of course were the intended targets in the first place.

The board has been told on more than one occasion by this same group of members that even when we all don't agree on a decision/vote we need to have a united front once the vote is cast, whether you agree with the decision or not. However when this small majority doesn't like how the vote comes out, they just request a revote. In my five years on the board I've never seen anything like this before, and in my talks with board members from other districts, they've told me that they have never experienced anything like this either.

Does this give the football boosters any ideas? Even though the first vote for the name tags on the away jerseys went against them, just ask for a revote; they only need to convince one person to change their vote in this case to get a yes vote.

Jeff Schmid
Ohio Township
Avonworth School Board member

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