CINDERELLA – The Mingo County Board of Education voted to approve a teacher transfer after questions concerning hiring practices were expressed during the delegation portion of Tuesday’s meeting.
During the delegation portion of the meeting, Pam Chapman, a teacher at Lenore PK-8, approached the BOE with questions regarding hiring committee practices. “I was lucky enough to get on one this time (hiring committee)… Here is where I have a problem. The information that was given to us, the hiring committee, nowhere near matched the information that was available for the candidates. Any candidate that applies for a job, every single bit of information that could help them should be made available to the committee. After we made our selection to the committee, our principal made a different selection,” Chapman stated.
Chapman explained that she felt the hiring committee was not given all the relevant information for each candidate prior to making a decision. “I am not in favor of playing favoritism for anyone…if you are not the one that is the candidate for that job; you are not going to get my vote…All of a sudden, there is 14 years’ experience, masters plus fifteen, none of that was available to us so we made the best choice possible of the candidates that were given,” Chapman said.
Chapman questioned if a lack of candidate information was being provided to hiring committees throughout the county. “Is this being done all over? Maybe other candidates are being done that way also. Maybe all the information about them is not being put out there. Maybe everyone is not getting a fair shake. I would just like to see a fair way of providing information about a candidate that applies for a job to be delivered to the hiring committee…If you are not given the information about each candidate that is the most pertinent or the most recent, then you can’t make a justifiable decision. My question is: are we going to continue this or are we going to do something to make the information more available to us? I wouldn’t have picked the one that I did on the hiring committee that we chose if we had the information about the other person,” Chapman stated in conclusion.
BOE member David Farley responded stating, “We will ask Dr. Duncan to explain it a bit later when it gets to that part of the agenda.”
Chapman’s questioning was addressed when BOE members pulled an agenda item for discussion involving the transfer of a Lenore PK-8 teacher.
Richard Duncan, Human Resources Director for Mingo County Schools stated, “I will briefly address some of the comments Mrs. Chapman made regarding this position. First of all, we had 12 qualified candidates…among the candidates, two of them were current teachers at Lenore PK-8, two of them are current teachers at other schools in this county and the rest will be new to us…The information is sent to principals on all hires when the posting is completed, I send an email with the pertinent information to them. I give them a summary of the positon, who the qualified candidates are for that position and I mention that the summary is just a summary, if their faculty senate’s wish to see more, they can certainly ask for that information.”
Duncan continued, stating that in a situation involving 12 qualified candidates, he was surprised the committee did not request additional candidate information. “In this case with 12 qualified candidates, I expected to hear a request for more information. I sent this information originally to Mrs. Messer around 11 a.m. Within an hour or two, she had called me and let me know that she and her faculty senate had already had a recommendation for the position. For them to have made a recommendation that quickly kind of surprised me but that is certainly something they can do… I didn’t hear any requests for information. Other schools have done that…”
BOE member Robert “Hank” Starr questioned Duncan stating, “She made a statement about the committee turning in one name and the principal gave another name. Does that follow Policy 5000? I think that is what she was most upset about and understandably….”
Duncan responded stating that he believed this was the first time this situation has occurred at a Mingo County School. “When principal and faculty senate do not agree on a single name, usually when they make a recommendation, they vote to recommend the same person. Policy does allow that they can recommend totally separate people. Once that happens, we then consider the candidates as we have done in the old days, if you will. We look at the qualifications and factors. Faculty senate and principal recommendations are given double weighting. Faculty Senate input is still an important part…. It is entirely possible that in some cases you could have a Faculty Senate recommend someone, a principal recommend a second person, and a third person become the most qualified because they have the most factors. That didn’t happen in this case. It turned out the person the principal recommended was in fact the most qualified candidate based on the other nine factors and the two recommendations.”
Starr responded stating, “It doesn’t promote having a hiring committee for sure. That is just my opinion. They give up their day and I am sure it probably took part of the day to do interviews.”
Duncan answered, “Like I said, they had a recommendation within two hours on 12 candidates. I don’t think they did interviews.”
BOE members then voted in favor of approving the transfer at Lenore PK-8 after BOE member Starr cast the only opposing vote.
The next regular meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on July 5, at the Mingo County Board of Education.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)