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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New approach to nepotism

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bedford County School System's policy on nepotism is getting a complete rewrite, according to discussion at a Board of Education study session on Tuesday night of last week

The former policy was two paragraphs long and only addressed the initial hire of the most immediate family members of sitting members of the school board.

Under the new policy, "Relatives of employees may not occupy a position that will be working directly for or supervising their relative..."

'Relatives' defined

Definition of the term "relatives" is expanded to mean, "parent, stepparent, foster parent, parent-in-law, child, spouse, brother, brother-in-law, foster brother, stepbrother, sister, sister-in-law, foster sister, stepsister, grandparent, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchild, or other family member who resides in the same household."

The policy also addresses alternative lifestyles and contemporary non-traditional relationships, allowing that similar restrictions may be imposed. The policy applies to all employees without regard to the gender of the individuals involved.

It also allows the Superintendent to "take prompt action if an actual or potential conflict of interest arises involving relatives or individuals involved in a dating relationship who occupy positions at any level (higher or lower) in the same line of authority that may affect the review of employment decisions."

Two changes ahead

The proposed changes will require a shift for at least two positions in the county. Bill and Miriam Pietkiewicz are a married couple who work at Shelbyville Central High School. Bill is an assistant principal and Miriam teaches English and Language Arts. At Cascade High School where Sharon Edwards is principal, her spouse Ralph is employed as an instructor and coach.

Dr. Ray Butrum, superintendent, has spoken to the principals at both schools, who each say that they have taken measures to ensure spouses were not providing evaluations to the other.

If the nepotism policy is approved at the board's April meeting, both positions will be grandfathered through the end of the school year, with reassignments occurring for the fall semester.

The change does not impact married couples who work in lateral positions at the same school.

New relationships

The policy also addresses relationships which are established after employment and in which one person reports to another in authority.

The supervisor in that situation has the responsibility to report the existence of the relationship to the superintendent. The proposed changes allow the superintendent discretion to separate, reassign or terminate positions when conflict between the two parties arises as a result of a relationship.