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Paul Martin should have been fired, not transferred

web posted June 25, 2007
OPINION – Thursday night the Edgefield County School Board held a special called meeting in order to hear a grievance filed by former Strom Thurmond High School vice-principal Paul Martin regarding his transfer to a teaching position with the same pay as his former position. School Board Chairwoman Sallie Cooks stated that a transfer cannot take place due to a disciplinary measure and that is why Martin’s pay was not cut at the time. Martin’s pay should have been cut completely and he should have been shown the door.

The main contention, aside from “adult tensions” stemming from those who had to work with Mr. Martin at an administrative level, were irregularities in his claims of credits for continuing education making him eligible or qualified to be an assistant principal.

Martin split hairs in his entire defense going so far as to claim that School Superintendent Dr. Sharon Keesley did not sign the transfer form, claiming Assistant Superintendent Dr. Roberson signed the form making it void. Dr. Roberson corrected Mr. Martin by stating that the letter advising him of the transfer was from Dr. Keesley and he was merely following procedure as her “designee” to complete the paperwork according to district policy.

School Board member Brad Covar had the right assessment of the situation, if the matter comes up again the employee, no matter who it is, should be fired on the spot. We question why wait until the next time it comes up to act. To do so will provide a similar situation with another employee to use Mr. Martin’s case as a reason not to be fired. The example should have been set now, not later.

Another interesting fact of the hiring came out when Human Resource Director Angela Cooper stated that Mr. Martin fit the profile of the desired hire, a male and a minority. It was interesting that the school district would admit to a form of “quotas” as a means to make qualified hires. Dr. Cooper admitted after being questioned by school board member Covar that other verifiably qualified applicants were passed over in an effort to hire Mr. Martin.

EdgefieldDaily.com has not been able to identify the race of those passed over as candidates for the job at this writing and does not assume that they were white, only that they already had the required credentials.

However, neither race nor gender should ever be used to fill any position in our schools. You are qualified or you are not qualified for the job. The school district seems to have shown that “equal opportunity employment” in Edgefield County may not be so “equal” after all.

EdgefieldDaily.com does not hold Strom Thurmond Principal Greg Thompson responsible or Dr. Cooper for the discrepancies that came to light. The school board agreed that when a supposedly qualified candidate for a position is found most candidates have several job offers and the district needs to make an offer quickly even before records are checked out in order to gain the best-qualified hires.

That may be true, but there has to be a time limit for verification and if the claimed classes or training cannot be confirmed as they are listed on the application the employee should be removed at once.

The whole fiasco has proven two things. School Board members Sallie Cooks and James Bibbs care little for ethics. Secondly the school board as w hole has shown they are willing to keep an employee that is not qualified. Even Mr. Martin said he was not qualified for the teaching position he was transferred to fill. Yet he is being paid the same as an administrator.

And people wonder what is wrong with our educational system? Paul Martin should have been fired, not transferred.


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