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Greensburg Salem scraps new hiring policy

| Friday, May 4, 2012, 9:31 a.m.

Greensburg Salem School Board has again changed its policy for hiring teachers.

After an hour-long discussion at a special meeting Tuesday, directors agreed to withdraw the hiring policy adopted last week and to put in its place a revised compromise version.

The policy, recommended by Superintendent Thomas Yarabinetz, calls for administrators to present information about two nearly equal candidates to directors. The policy states that the superintendent then will tell directors the factors that led administrators to pick one candidate over the other.

Directors Stephen Thomas and Lee Kunkle made the motion to withdraw the policy endorsed last week and implement the new one. The motion passed in a voice vote, with no dissenting vote expressed.

Last week, Director Nat Pantalone proposed revising the hiring policy to have information about the top two candidates presented to directors prior to any hiring. The 19-year-old policy in effect before last week called for administrators to do extensive interviews and generally recommend one candidate for directors to endorse.

The discussions on candidates for jobs are done behind closed doors. The vote on the actual hiring is done at a public meeting, as required by law, but no information about the reason for the hiring is typically shared.

Before reaching the latest policy, directors shared their feelings on the policy endorsed last week.

Pantalone, who was joined by Frank Gazze, Richard Guerrieri, Barbara Vernail and Ronald Mellinger in voting to change the policy last week, said he believes directors should be more involved in the hiring process.

"I think we have a right and a duty as the board to be involved," he said, saying the previous 19-year-old policy amounted to directors "rubber stamping" hirings.

But other directors said they were concerned that if the board was put in the possible position of choosing between two candidates, undue influence would be placed on them.

Perry cited the hypothetical case of an elected official putting pressure on directors to hire that official's child.

Director Barbara Hinkle, who voted with Perry, Kunkle and President Trudy Ivory against last week's policy change, said school boards get a bad name when it appears that directors hire their friends or those who are politically connected.

Yarabinetz said he believes the 19-year-old policy was working, but he was willing to compromise.

He explained to directors that administrators consider several factors when interviewing a potential teacher. Those factors include teaching ability, lesson plans, leadership potential, passion and compassion for children.

He said the district's success in test scores and other areas directly resulted from the interviewing process and the teachers hired.

"If we didn't have good teachers, we wouldn't get these results," Yarabinetz said.

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