School board member John Dutcher of the Johnston Community School District Board of Education isquestioning why the school district only conducts background checks at the time of hire and not during contract renewals. Dutcher voiced his concerns during a recent Board of Education meeting to approve renewing the contract of Johnston School District Superintendent Clay Guthmiller. Dutcher was the only board member who opposed the contract renewal. A two-year contract with Guthmiller was approved, which includes a 3.25 percent salary raise. After the meeting Dutcher said his “no vote on the contract is self-explanatory,” and doesn’t “share in other board members’ desire” for Guthmiller to continue his employment with the district.
During the meeting, Dutcher questioned the school district’s background check policies, and recommended the district do more thorough investigations on employees. He gave a hypothetical example of a district employee possibly obtaining a part-time administrative position. He said if that happened without a background check, that it “would be unfortunate.” Dutcher declined to mention any specific reservations he may have had regarding Guthmiller, and if his reason for rejecting the contract renewal was related to the lack of a recent background check. The district’s Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, James Casey, said that the policy was to only conduct background checks on potential hires, but certain legal troubles could result in termination for current employees. While the renewal of Guthmiller’s contract does not call for another background check, it does require an annual performance evaluation.
Greg Dockum , also a Johnston School Board member, is in agreement with the current policy on background checks held by the school district. He said it would be “highly unusual” to conduct a check “on a long-tenured employee.” Dutcher defended his stance by saying as a member of the school board it is his duty to ensure that “the best possible decisions” are made to benefit the community and employees of the school district. However, Marci Cordaro, Board President, remarked that Dutcher is often critical of district decisions. She said she doesn’t “know for sure why he voted the way he did.”
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Author: Michael Klazema