Despite concerns, the Board of Education on Sept. 15 voted in favor of the new revised nepotism policy.
Board member Lawrence Miloscia voted against the measure, which is part of the New Jersey Department of Education new school accountability regulations.
The new revised policy states the Board of Education, in order to avoid both the reality and the appearance of conflict of interest in employment, will not appoint a relative of a board member or of the superintendent of schools to any employment position in the district.
A question was raised about who is allowed to negotiate teacher contracts. Board Attorney Jonathan Busch said this was an administrative function and if someone were to fall through the cracks [regarding violating the nepotism policy], it would be dealt with at the time.
“Nothing is a perfect science,” he said, adding that his office goes through the nepotism policy very carefully.
A question was raised regarding Board President Brian Small’s daughter who was hired as a coach. She is a substitute teacher in the district.
Board member Judy Leidner said it is hires like Small’s daughter that makes the nepotism policy troubling.
“Here we have a highly qualified person and just because she is a family member of a board member, an extra step has to be taken,” she said.
Schools Superintendent John Crowe said he has only heard positive reviews about Small’s daughter. Lois Rotella, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, added that they are always actively looking for female coaches for their female athletes.
Leidner said one of her sons is concentrating in music education and told her that he would not look for a job in the Woodbridge School District because he does not want the aggravation.
“This is sad because we are losing a great candidate,” she said.
Board member Brian Molnar said it is because of hires like Small’s daughter that he voted against the policy when it first was introduced.
“This was one of my best votes on this board,” he said.
Molnar said he was concerned about the discrimination factor that the revised nepotism policy brings.
“If we put 15 resumes on the table without names, everyone would pick the resume of [Small’s daughter],” he said. “We hired a great person.”
Small was not present at the vote.
The new revised policy states that the superintendent of schools cannot recommend to the board any relative of a board member or of the superintendent of schools, unless the person is subject to any of the exceptions in the policy. No one can be considered for employment in any position, either, if the employee would come under the direct or indirect supervision of a relative.
Exceptions include persons who are employees of the board on the date that the policy becomes effective or the date a relative becomes a board member or superintendent of schools. A relative of a school board member or superintendent of schools may be employed by the district, provided that the district has obtained the approval from the executive county superintendent of schools. The school district would also have to demonstrate that it conducted a thorough search for candidates, and that the proposed candidate is the only qualified and available person for the position.
Per diem substitutes and student employees are excluded from the nepotism policy.