This might make a good campaign ad for the
2016 2015 Hillsboro R-3 school board election:
There you have, under a headline reporting that the board doubled down on its nepotism hire, board member Jo Ellen Stringer, who has two years left on her term, defending the decision. And doing so, I would say, in a ridiculous fashion. When in the history of the world has someone been negatively affected in a job search because they were related to a senior official in the organization? Never.
People like Stringer will say, oh, we hired the superintendent’s wife because she was the most qualified. But nobody in the community believes that. Furthermore, the question of who is “most qualified” for a job like instructional coaching is open to much interpretation. It’s not like all 34 applicants took a test and Mrs. Cornman got the best score. The decision was based on looking at resumes and doing interviews. In a normal situation, in which no relatives are involved, four people could probably give you four different opinions on who is most qualified. But when the superintendent’s wife is involved, perspectives change, intentionally or not. To believe that hiring officials, at least one (an assistant superintendent) who is directly subordinate to Supt. Cornman, can ignore the relationship between him and the applicant is absurd, even if they don’t intend to aid and abet nepotism, which is up for debate. There is no way to fairly conduct a hiring process when the superintendent’s (or board member’s) relative in involved. That’s why policy should prohibit the hiring of relatives of board members AND administrators. Never mind the problems that come with trying to supervise someone who is married to the superintendent or a board member.
Besides, a major point in Mrs. Cornman’s resume is her last job, which was in a district where – wait for it – her husband was superintendent (in Pierce City). So nepotism begets nepotism.
Board member Paul Maynard said the district loosened its nepotism policy to be in line with other school districts. But what about Mehlville’s policy?
The Board of Education shall not contract with or employ to any position any Board member, any immediate relative of a Board member, or immediate relative of an administrative official of the district.
This is basically what Hillsboro’s policy used to be. Now, the policy allows for the hire of relatives of board members, if that member leaves the room and doesn’t vote on the hire. Fox’s updated, but still weak, policy “prohibits board members from hiring relatives to supervisory positions such as principals, assistant principals and department directors.”
Board members Bo Harrison, Dan McCarthy, and Beth Petry voted against the nepotism policy change and against the hire. Maynard, John Stewart, John Lewis and Stringer voted yes on both. Petry changed her vote on the hire from the first time it was considered.
This may not be a long-term issue, though. Supt. Cornman appears to be a job-hopper. Here are his recent positions:
- Superintendent at Walnut Grove, 2007 – 2011 (Springfield area)
- Superintendent at Pierce City, 2011 – 2013 (also near Springfield)
- Applicant for superintendent at Perry County, 2012 (north of Cape Girardeau, unsuccessful)
So he may move on pretty soon. Maybe he’ll apply for the job at Fox. It might be a little tougher for his wife to get a job there, given recent scrutiny, but you never know.