Beaufort County school board continues debate on nepotism

BC Schools


BY REBECCA LURYE
rlurye@islandpacket.com

The Beaufort County school board appeared no closer Tuesday night to agreeing on a new nepotism policy.

Board members waded through many of the same motions that failed in a human resources committee one month ago. And a host of disagreements on proper procedure prompted district attorney Drew Davis to coax the board toward a vote.

“You all are trying to take what should be a very basic procedural process and trying to make it very complicated,” he said.
One by one, members voted down suggestions, including banning relatives of the superintendent from working in the district and replacing the entirety of the draft policy with the district’s old nepotism rule.

The board’s decision to create a policy on conflicts of interest stems from the controversial hiring of superintendent Jeff Moss’ wife at the start of the school year, a placement Moss recommended to the board after altering the district’s nepotism rule.

The public decried the hire, which ended in Darlene Moss’ resignation a week into her new job as director of innovation. The board also expressed in a November evaluation of the incident “its dissatisfaction with the way matters unfolded.”

On Tuesday, the board ultimately made just one change to its policy — reinstating wording meant to limit conflicts of interest when contracts are awarded.

Even then, board member Evva Anderson said she was unclear what the exact meaning of that portion was, echoing the same concerns that caused board members to delete it. However, she noted, the board will have two more chances to clarify it. The new policy must receive two more votes before going into effect.

The intent of that portion is to prevent employees from awarding contracts to companies for which a family member works.

The board ultimately voted 5-4 to approve the draft policy on its first reading, with Joseph Dunkle, JoAnn Orischak, Michael Rivers and Geri Kinton voting against it. Member Paul Roth was absent.

As the draft policy reads, family members are prohibited from directly supervising each other or working in the same school or administrative unit without prior approval of the superintendent.

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