Morgan board president questions hiring of superintendent's daughter
By Bayne Hughes
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2432
Morgan County school board President Jimmy Dobbs questioned the hiring of Superintendent Bob Balch's daughter Thursday.
The board voted 4-1 during its monthly meeting, with Dobbs casting the lone no vote and Tom Earwood abstaining, to hire Valeria Blaske as a third-grade teacher at Eva School. School board member Mike Tarpley was absent.
Blaske joins her mother, Henrietta Balch, who also teaches third grade at Eva.
Bob Balch said he followed the same process that previous superintendents did in hiring family members. He asked Lawrence County Superintendent Dexter Rutherford to interview the candidates and make a recommendation.
Dobbs objected to what he called the "inconsistency in the hiring practices." At least two tenured teachers asked for a transfer into the position, but the board hired Blaske as a new teacher. She previously taught in the system.
Dobbs said Balch promised in his campaign last fall, and made recent statements in the press, that tenured teachers would get first opportunity for transfer into vacant positions.
"Inconsistent hiring practices are going to get us in trouble," Dobbs said.
The superintendent said he had no comment on Dobbs' accusation.
School board member Carolyn Wallace said she didn't have a problem with Balch wanting his daughter hired because he followed proper procedure. She said Blaske taught at Danville-Neel Elementary in her district, and she had hoped she would return to Danville-Neel.
"I don't believe in penalizing a child just because she's the daughter of a board member or superintendent," Wallace said. "That's discrimination."
Wallace said tenured teachers don't have a priority for positions.
"You don't have to allow a teacher to transfer just because she wants to transfer," she said.
Earwood said he always abstains on votes for hiring family members. He said he doesn't like public school officials hiring family and said the state needs nepotism laws, but he wasn't going to stand in the superintendent's way.
"He's the CEO of this educational system, and he has a right to do it," Earwood said.
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