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Hiring Talk Dominates School Meeting

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education has begun reexamining current board practices, specifically district hiring policies with emphasis on transferring personnel between buildings. 


Trustee Jennifer Kerrane expressed concerns that some teachers, while approved to work in each of the district’s four buildings, are actually limited to only three. She says this can be detrimental to both the students as well as teachers who may face a transfer as a result of another employee not being able to work in a particular building. 


“The board practice is that we don’t employ a person in the building in which their child attends school,” Superintendent Robert Katulak explains. “This rule applies to everyone from monitors and substitutes, all the way up to administrators.”    


Because of this restriction, Kerrane has suggested that positions might be filled out of convenience and who’s allowed to work where, rather than who is the best fit for the job. 


“It’s contradictory because you say you’re hiring people to go to all four schools, but that’s not true. Let’s not take the easy way out,” Kerrane urged the board. “Why does one person have to be moved to another building only because another person can’t be moved?”  


The board can change the practice of disallowing employees from working in the same building as their children, but they must be consistent in whatever they decide. 


During the hiring process, school principals screen candidates before they move on to a review with a committee made up of administrators, parents, and potential peers (a committee considering a candidate for a position teaching fifth grade would have at least one current fifth grade teacher present). Candidates are asked to perform a demo-lesson after being approved by the committee. Two final candidates move on to an interview with the superintendent before going before the Board of Education for approval. 


Building principals generally approve transfers. Katulak does get the final say in these appointments, but would only get involved in dire circumstances.


“I would not veto the principal’s decision unless I felt it would be harmful to the students,” he said. Katulak added that he would also stop a transfer if he suspected that the teacher would conflict with administrators at the new building. 


As an alternative protocol, Kerrane has suggested a “last-in, first-out” approach to intra-building transfers. If the most recently hired teachers would be let go of first in the event of budget cuts, she argues that when a situation arises that necessitates a transfer, newer teachers be considered before more established ones.   


No consensus was reached at this work session meeting, but the practice may be changed in the future.  


“It’s food for thought for future discussions,” Board President Ernest Gentile said.