We’re a little confused.
In October, an item appeared on the agenda of a Marion County Board of Education meeting to hire an administrative assistant of Human Resources and Student Support Services. But the item was pulled from the agenda with no public discussion about why, and the position was not filled.
Or, rather, created. It was a different position than the one left open when Gary Price was promoted to superintendent. He is now essentially functioning in his previous role as assistant superintendent, as well as in his new position the BOE promoted him to last summer.
Later, BOE members said the issue wasn’t the person Price wanted to fill the new position — interviews were conducted — but rather the position itself. The board wanted a focus on technology and bullying in this assistant position.
Late last week, the BOE’s agenda was released with a recommendation from Price to hire Jayenne Elementary principal Andy Neptune as administrative assistant of Human Resources and Student Support Services. While technology and bullying was included within the job description, Price said the job was basically a personnel director.
But the BOE said no Monday night to Price’s most recent recommendation, with its 3-2 vote.
Janet Crescenzi and the Rev. James Saunders voted in favor of the recommendation, and Mary “Sis” Murray, Richard Pellegrin and Dr. Babette Simms voted against it.
So, is it the position itself or the person this time? We have to believe it was the position again.
“It just didn’t pass,” said Simms, who is president of the board. “It’s one of those difficult decisions.”
The job will be reposted now with less job responsibilities and more of a focus on technology.
And it may have been a difficult decision for the BOE. But now we think they need to answer some difficult questions.
There are pages and pages within the state code that regulate employment within the public school system. But it boils down to this. The county BOE has one employee — the superintendent. And the superintendent is responsible for the employees of the county school system. That means hiring, firing, transferring, disciplining and creating positions. As the board’s employee, of course, the superintendent must have the BOE’s blessing in almost all personnel matters.
Price is saying that he needs someone to oversee interviewing, hiring, evaluations, dismissals and suspensions for both service and professionals, as well as the Reduction in Force, transfer of personnel from one position to another, and the non-renewal of non-tenure employees.
He also said a particular emphasis that this position was going to have and will still have from this point forward is bullying and discipline. The person would be expected to help develop and implement county-wide programs for bullying, discipline and positive behavior support, and work with principals to assure teachers have adequate classroom management plans.
So, bullying — check. Technology — check. Those were the expressed requirements in the fall when they turned down Price’s recommendation to hire an assistant.
So with two strikes, Price will post and interview for the position again, and again ask the BOE for its blessing to hire his chosen candidate. And what if there’s a third strike? Well, we all know what that means in baseball.
It’s obvious that the superintendent and the BOE aren’t on the same page. Is this caused by mixed signals from some board members? Are there separate agendas competing against one another? Only the BOE knows for sure.
Marion County Schools has had a lot of obstacles to overcome and even more successes in recent years. It’s a shame that a personnel disagreement is stalling progress at Central Office. The BOE needs to move past this this issue to ensure continued progress in the school system.