Our View: Hiring superintendent’s son just smells bad

Hanover Area School District Superintendent William Jones, second from left, gives his report during the regular meeting of the school board on Monday. The board voted 5-2 that night to hire Jones’ son, Jared, as a social studies teacher. - Times Leader file photo

We hope Jared Jones is an outstanding educator.

We hope the newly hired Hanover Area secondary social studies teacher will inspire bright young minds to embrace learning and come away from his classes with enthusiasm and new ideas as they progress toward graduation and adulthood.

As of right now, we have no reason to think otherwise.

We do, however, have concerns about the process by which Jones landed his new $45,898 gig. For, as you might have read, Jared’s dad is Hanover Area’s superintendent.

Bill Jones assured the public and the media following Monday night’s vote to appoint his son to the post that he didn’t influence the decision — but, for those who were asking, Jared is plenty qualified, the elder Jones added.

“My son went through the interview process like everyone else,” Bill Jones said. “I wasn’t involved with the hiring process or his recommendation for the position.”

Jones continued: “I was out of the room. I had no involvement. It’s not like he was hired right out of college with no experience. He was a substitute teacher for the district for all of last year.”

With seven of nine board members present, Jared’s appointment earned the approval of five, which would have been enough to sail through even with a full quorum.

We are aware that at least one other man who had applied for the position was in the audience Monday night, watching as the superintendent’s son was given the job.

Was Jared the best man? Five board members apparently thought so.

Swirling around Jared’s appointment, however, is an ugly smell people in this region know all too well.

To be clever, we might even call that smell NEPAtism, given how often teaching jobs and other government positions in Northeastern Pennsylvania seem to get filled with the friends and family of those we elect to look out for the public’s best interests.

In the private sector, the owner can do as he likes. If he wants to hire his kid, his wife, his girlfriend or that shady brother-in-law who’s still trying to get his life together, so be it — his house, his money, his rules.

None of that is acceptable on the public’s dime.

The voters who put those board members in place have a right to know that the community’s children will receive the best education possible using the money extracted from taxpayers for that purpose.

Likewise, applicants for jobs with public entities have a right to know that their applications will be given a fair and objective assessment against all other candidates.

It’s hard to have faith that is happening when the winning candidate for a position shares blood, a bed or some other close tie with those in power.

The trendy term for this is “privilege.” Around here, it’s called “taking care of your own.”

Whatever it’s called, it flies in the face of what Americans say we stand for: Meritocracy, democracy, equality of opportunity.

Bill Jones says he didn’t influence the process. Bill Jones says his son is qualified.

We can’t dispute either. What we will dispute is his judgment, and that of the board.

The district has faced several smelly personnel issues over the past year: A former administrator contending he was illegally terminated, legal action initiated against former a business administrator, a part-time secretary losing her job to be replaced by a friend of a board member.

Given that, you’d like to think the adults in the room would realize it’s time to use some common sense in hiring, both to get the best candidate and to avoid even the whiff of nepotism.

You would be wrong.

— Times Leader

Hanover Area School District Superintendent William Jones, second from left, gives his report during the regular meeting of the school board on Monday. The board voted 5-2 that night to hire Jones’ son, Jared, as a social studies teacher.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL091118HanoverSchoolBoard_1CMYK.jpgHanover Area School District Superintendent William Jones, second from left, gives his report during the regular meeting of the school board on Monday. The board voted 5-2 that night to hire Jones’ son, Jared, as a social studies teacher. Times Leader file photo