Friday, July 25, 2008

Daddy, can you get me a job?

As you might have read earlier this week, something is rotten in Trinity Area School District. Several members of the board say they were lobbied to hire Stephanie Miller as an elementary schoolteacher last week. The lobbyist: Stephanie's father, Jeff Miller. The problem: He's a member of the school board. The school board has a nepotism policy dictating that neither administrators nor board members "shall seek, assist or advocate the appointing, hiring or advancing of his/her relative to any regular employment ... within the Trinity Area School District." It appears Mr. Miller never read that policy. It makes you wonder what other important facets of operating the school district he's not familiar with. Or was this a case of selective amnesia? Board members Tom Bodnovich and Jack Keisling said Miller telephoned them to seek their support. "He left me a message saying that his daughter was the most qualified candidate and that he'd appreciate my support," said Bodnovich. The most qualified candidate? Thanks, Mr. Miller, for that unbiased assessment. The only way the public can determine whether it's true is if the district would provide information about all the candidates, such as their college transcripts, etc. Oh, sorry, privacy policy. So, while Stephanie Miller might well have been the most-qualified applicant, the public will never really know. And, sadly for her, everyone will know there was an air of impropriety surrounding her hiring, which was approved on a 6-2-1 vote, with Bodnovich and Keisling voting against the hiring and Miller, to his small and too-little-too-late credit, abstaining. Miller didn't return phone calls seeking comment on his actions. Said Keisling, "You are put in a situation where you are asked to violate district policy. This hurts everyone. It's not the candidate, it's the violation of the policy." It's a shame that Trinity or any other district even needs such a policy. A shred of personal ethics should be sufficient to prevent this kind of activity, but that's an attribute in short supply these days. Everyone knows that in private businesses, nepotism is a frequent occurrence. Private businesses can do as they wish, but when you're a school board member, your first duty is to the taxpayers, parents and, most of all, students. Trinity Area residents should be disgusted by this blatant violation of district policy, and they should show up at the next board meeting to make their feelings known.



Blogger Ellipses said...

Geez... I graduated with Stephanie Miller... Smart, organized... really has it all together, I'm sure... probably will be a good teacher... just like her Uncle and Grandfather... It is too bad that this happened.

-ellipses... figures the "class" store is next to the "happiness" shop

July 25, 2008 at 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be upsetting on a few different levels:

* The superintendent is absolved of any blame, when he is the one that needed to keep the board up to date on the policy if he knows a finalist may be on the list of folks that this policy to come into play with.

* Of course, the director is a dope for not understanding the policy before.

* Finally, this poor woman who may be actually the most qualified candidate to not yet step into the class yet have this hanging over her. A shame to her credibility and career.

July 26, 2008 at 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The right thing for Mr. Miller to have done would have been to let everyone know up front that his daughter was a candidate, recuse himself from the hiring process and refuse to comment on his daughter's worthiness for the position even if asked.

Parents have their kids hired by the same companies they work for every day, I'm sure, but most know enough should let personnel handle everything and stay out of the process.

July 26, 2008 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Captain said...

What a mess! I am sure she has qualifications but so do other people who dont have that kind of lobbying. Not always is the best person hired -- are we that naive to think thats not true - are we?

I cannot think to believe they did not know the rules and yet still kept their mouth shut. If this were my personal business, I would believe suspensions and or terminations would be in order. As for the manager aka Superintedent -- he would be fair game as well.

The only victims here are the students (less so) and Miss Miller who will carry this with her as long as she stays in THS system and any mostake she makes will come under harsher scrutiny by students, parents, and fellow teachers.

Is there not a questionaire that asks if they have anybody who is a relative working anywhere in the School system? Would that not absolve her to some degree? Then it would not be required for anybody to seek support from other members as it would be open knowledge - would it not?

Just another example of misuse of power by coercion and/or diversion by those we believe have integrity. Her father should step down in an attempt to show some class. Then the candidate would have to fend for herself which from ellipses statements, if she is that strong a candidate she will do just fine.

However, if this were my daughter, I too would do whatever possible LEGALLY and ETHICALLY to assist her. Is that not what fathers are to do for their children is to help them along the path of their life?

July 26, 2008 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Without getting into specific candidates for teaching jobs at Trinity, I'm hearing things about the hiring process - some things in Cody's paper and some from other sources - that really call into question the hiring process there.

July 26, 2008 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Also, Captain, your remark that Mr. Miller should "step down in an attempt to show some class" caught my eye. I thought about suggesting in the original post that, in the name of integrity and personal responsibility, Miller should resign, but then I thought, hey, nobody quits on account of misdeeds anymore. They only leave if they're forced to by someone with legal authority, and they often fight that through the courts for years. I hear tell that there once walked on this same Earth at least a few elected officials who were guided by a code of personal ethics and a strong moral compass, and would resign in shame if caught in a misdeed such as this. They were the dinosaurs of public service.

July 26, 2008 at 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an idea: keep the teacher if the director resigns. If Mr. Miller doesn't understand the rules, why would you think him capable of overseeing the education of thousands of other children.

BTW, I don't live in the district and don't know either party.

July 27, 2008 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Veritas said...

Grant, Grant...

Points are well taken but about that "headline"...I know it was for effect but implies there was more to it!

Let's not rehash all of the points made because most were right on...yes this guy sucks but MOST school board members about we look at the following:

Let us try a novel approach as Americans:

Could the people of his district just care enough to vote differently?

The local and state elections have more direct impact on an American then ANY national election but we all know the voting records of most Americans.

The problems with local school boards and our PA legislature - for example - show this problem for what it is.

August 5, 2008 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Very good point. Unfortunately, I would venture to guess that the majority of people who vote (and sadly they represent a minority of people eligible to vote) do very little to educate themselves about their choices, and since the only name they recognize is often that of the incumbent, they blindly return that person to office. It's sad.

August 6, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous veritas said...

Yes...this is the problem and why a Republic is often better then a democracy!

August 6, 2008 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that people who consider themselves "educated" often reassure themselves of their own knowledge by often selling the average person short. People who vote for persons do it for many reasons, not only the ones which you consider important.

Mr. or Mrs. voting public sometimes make choices that the media may consider inferior, but sometimes it must be recognized for what it is .....democracy with all of its pros and cons.

Of course we all know that the president of your senoir class was the most qualified person???....give it a rest.

August 8, 2008 at 5:23 AM  
Anonymous Veritas said...

Inferior such as those who go by anonymous in the hopes of reassuring themselves that they do not need to take responsibility for their words!

Saying people vote for a President without knowledge may be calling them inferior but I can assure you WITHOUT ANY reservation that school boards are not voted on by people with conscious.

Let us see 30% AT MOST vote in local elections...16% of votes win you the election. So in a district of 1000 people you need 160 people to vote for you!

Way to go 'Joe Voter' American!

Come with stats or leave you anonymous posts somewhere else!

August 22, 2008 at 7:30 PM  

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