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Victoria school board official hired son and daughter's boyfriend

Jun 04 2012

The Greater Victoria school district launched an internal review earlier this year after officials learned that the director of international student programs had his son and his daughter's boyfriend working under him.

The review's findings were discussed at a private meeting of school trustees Tuesday night.

But board chairwoman Peg Orcherton declined to release the findings or divulge what, if any, action the board took as a result.

Orcherton said the district does not discuss personnel matters in public and she said taxpayers will have to trust that elected officials deal appropriately with such issues in private.

"You need to have faith that we - once something has been brought to our attention - will do what needs to be done so that if there's been anything done inappropriately it won't happen again."

Orcherton later issued a prepared statement saying that the board is committed to ensuring that fair and transparent hiring practices are in place throughout the district.

"When a circumstance is raised to the attention of the board that suggests that hiring practices and policies are not being implemented as they should, this board takes that very seriously," she said, reading from the statement.

"The board takes steps necessary to correct the immediate circumstance and to limit the possibility of any future transgressions."

The review focused on Dave Scott, who as director of international and continuing studies runs the Victoria International High School Programs in which foreign students pay fees to study in public schools.

Scott's son was hired by the district last year as assistant activities co-ordinator with the international programs, and the boyfriend of Scott's daughter was hired as a manager.

Scott, who remains the director, declined comment this past week and referred all questions to superintendent John Gaiptman.

Gaiptman confirmed that he launched an internal review by the senior management team after learning of the hirings. "I was alerted to the issue by somebody who thought it was important to share it with me," he said.

He said Scott's son was hired on a short-term contract to fill a vacancy. He worked for the school district for slightly more than nine months and received total compensation of $37,000. He previously held a similar position with B.C. Hockey.

The daugher's boyfriend worked for the school district for a little more than eight months and received about $47,000. He was a short-term replacement for an employee on maternity leave and had particular responsibilities for students from Central and South America. He also worked previously for B.C. Hockey.

Gaiptman said both men did their jobs well and there was no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them. They resigned their positions earlier this spring. Neither could be reached for comment.

Gaiptman said district policy is that all hiring has to be done in a fair and equitable manner through the human resources department, and that proper disclosures of any potential conflicts should be made.

But both he and Orcherton said they are prohibited from disclosing whether that happened in this case, whether the positions were posted or advertised, or who made the final hiring decisions. Gaiptman said all of that information was given to trustees at an incamera meeting and, therefore, cannot be released.

"We do not, and we have never, discussed personnel matters regarding any district employee," Gaiptman said. "I can tell you that the board is confident that this matter has been resolved and that the international student program will be able to continue to provide excellent service for the students who choose to attend school in Greater Victoria."

Gaiptman said that all hirings, regardless of the length of the term of the hiring, must now be done through the district's human resources department.

"No hirings will occur through the international student program," he said.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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