USD 418 board moves forward on nepotism policy

By Chris Swick
January 26, 2016

More discussion and some movement forward on a nepotism policy for USD 418 out of Monday night's Board of Education meeting.

Board members gave their preliminary acceptance to a revision to the current policy that restricts the hiring of family members of board members and the supervision of employees who are related to school principals, for example.

The policy changes discussed Monday still allowed for the hiring of anyone with a close familial relationship to a board member only in the event of an emergency, with a grandfather clause for those already employed at the time of adoption of the policy or prior to the election or appointment of a new board member.

Board member Kim Janzen wanted to restrict that even further, taking out the emergency clause and adding in that contracts in place for family of BOE members employed by the district would not be renewed at the end of the current school year, citing possible conflict of interest issues, though her suggestion was met with little support from others on the board.

“I guess my understanding is that the only person in the district that we supervise or evaluate is [superintendent] Mark [Crawford],” Anne Hassler Heidel said. “And if Mark doesn't directly supervise that person we're related to, I guess I just don't see the problem. I think we're kidding ourselves if we think we have that much sway on Mark that we can Mark, two-people away, change an evaluation.”

Crawford also noted the board only becomes involved in disciplinary action in limited instances.

“Only with a board motion can you suspend without pay,” Crawford said. “Besides termination, that's the only thing I know that a board can vote on related to a discipline.”

The board voted to accept the nepotism policy, with one addition in the wording that the superintendent would make determinations of who is in a supervisory position in conflicts of interest cases, on a 6-1 vote with Janzen the dissenting vote.