Nepotism issues in district again brought before board
By Cindy Ekas
Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
When Joe D'Andrea began to address ongoing nepotism problems in the Laurel Highlands School District on Thursday night, Superintendent Jesse Wallace advised him it is illegal to discuss personnel issues at a public meeting.
Wallace told D'Andrea, husband of school board member Jamie Miller-D'Andrea, that he could not discuss specific school board members and their relatives who have been hired as district employees at an open meeting.
Instead, Wallace told D'Andrea that he would give him the opportunity to address those issues with school board members during an executive session.
However, D'Andrea did not pursue his option to air his concerns in a closed-door meeting.
When asked Friday morning to explain the incident, Wallace said there could be legal ramifications if inaccurate information would be disclosed at a public meeting.
“Whenever the school board is dealing with personnel issues, we are required by law to discuss those issues behind closed doors,” he said. “The reason for that is because someone could provide inaccurate information that could taint someone's reputation. The school district needs to protect the rights of individuals, including school board members, employees and the public.”
Wallace confirmed that nepotism has been discussed in the school district for many years.
Several years ago, Jamie Miller-D'Andrea, who is an educator in another school district, applied for the federal funds coordinator position in the Laurel Highlands School District.
School board members hired Jessica Vernon Scott, daughter of school board member Tom Vernon, for the position. As a result, D'Andrea filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming age discrimination. The case has been resolved.
“There have been several incidents in the school district where there have been allegations of nepotism,” Wallace said. “Those have involved assistant principal, principal and the federal funds coordinator positions.
“When we have a case where a job applicant is related to a school board member, the board member always abstains or passes when the hiring vote is taken,” he said.
Wallace said the school district has discussed the possibility of adopting an anti-nepotism policy in the past, but action has not been taken.
“I feel that an anti-nepotism policy could handicap the school district,” he said. “Family members of school board members do apply for jobs. We would hate to lose the best candidate for the position because their mom, dad, aunt or uncle are school board members.
“If someone is the best person for the job, he or she should be hired even if they are related to a board member,” he added.
Wallace said he expects school board members to discuss the nepotism issue at upcoming policy committee meetings.
Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- South Connellsville Borough to hold ‘Christmas Celebration’
- To 1940s teenagers in Connellsville, World War II was a constant companion
- ‘Ninja’ sentenced to psych hospital
- WCVI building in Connellsville awaits buyer for possible renovations
- Connellsville library to host Job/Career Club
- $500 reward offered for Nicholson assailant
- Man sent to prison for role in beer party fight
- Downtown Connellsville had it all in the 1940s and 1950s
- South Connellsville to hold Christmas celebration
- Connellsville native keeps arts alive in area
- West Leisenring band, THE R4 PROJECT, to open for Hawthorne Heights