WILKES-BARRE – In a move the board president said was a surprise, Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted 5-4 to appoint Bernard Prevuznak as full superintendent.
In a split vote involving the same people, the board approved a long-promised teacher hiring policy that the minority has criticized as lacking any meaningful anti-nepotism clause.
Board President Maryanne Toole said she voted against the appointment of Prevuznak because the board had not completed an extensive search process conducted through contract with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Toole said the search netted about 17 applications, with eight or nine interviewed. Three were called back for second interviews, but Toole said the board had not deliberated following those interviews.
Board member Robert Corcoran, who voted for Prevuznak, said the process was complete and that Prevuznak was the best candidate.
Corcoran said the vote should have occurred last month but that Toole postponed deliberations. He said the board discussed the matter before the vote, which was held after all items on the printed agenda had been voted on and the board was discussing new business.
Prevuznak was hired pending negotiation of his contract. Prevuznak has been deputy superintendent for years, and was named interim superintendent when his predecessor Jeff Namey retired this summer.
Board member John Quinn moved for immediately hiring Prevuznak, with Corcoran seconding the motion.
Dino Galella, Philip Latinski and Louis Elmy voted yes, Toole, Lynn Evans, Christine Katsock and James Susek voted no.
The same split occurred in an earlier motion regarding the hiring policy, a move that was also not on the printed agenda.
Toole, who has pushed for a written hiring policy ever since three board members pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2009 and the public learned no policy exists, said she voted no because there was nothing about nepotism.
The policy allows hiring of a board relative as long as the board member who is related to the candidate acknowledges the fact at a public meeting.
In fact, Toole argued, the five members had made it less restrictive while voting for the policy.
As written, the policy called for district administrators to bring up to three top candidates to the board for a vote to fill a position, but in moving to adopt the policy, Quinn added that the policy be changed to allow up to five candidates.
Elmy, Galella, Quinn and Corcoran all either have relatives working for the district or who have applied for jobs or promotions in the district.
The board agreed to hold its annual reorganization meeting, at which it can elect new officers, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m.
The board decided to wait until reorganization to set up the next regular meeting.