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County schools begin review of hiring process

October 10, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - A hiring process review under way in Washington County Public Schools - launched after the recent firing of a substitute bus assistant - is reaching every department, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

"Yes, I have initiated a process ... to ensure we have not only consistency, but fairness .... Right now, I'm not sure we do," she said.

On Sept. 29, The Herald-Mail reported that Dana Burcker's employment as a substitute bus assistant ended within 10 days of her hiring. School officials would not say why Burcker was no longer employed with the school system.

Burcker, who has a criminal record, told a reporter she never applied for the position and was offered the job during a phone call.

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At the time, Carol Mowen, a spokeswoman for the school system, said that having an arrest record or criminal conviction does not disqualify a candidate for a job.

The position was not posted before Burcker was hired. Burcker maintained that her sister, Jeannie Thompson, who at the time was a transportation specialist for the school system, was not involved in the hiring.

"It's likely the HR (human resources) department will become more involved in the hiring process of temporary employees in the future," Mowen said Thursday.

Morgan said the school system is reviewing procedures in individual departments, which make the recommendations for hiring. Those recommendations are outside the scope of the human resources department, which handles aspects of the process such as applications, reviews and fingerprinting, she said.

"My goal is to strengthen our hiring practices throughout the school system," Morgan said.

Mowen said she'll be able to better explain changes in the hiring process in a couple of weeks. Policy changes would go before the Washington County Board of Education, she said.

"Rest assured ... there will be changes, and it will be department by department," Mowen said.

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