Monday night’s meeting of the Proviso High School District 209 was more of the same for the embattled district, as members of the board minority hurled accusations of unfair hiring practices, which the district’s administration categorically denied.
Much of the debate this month centered around the hiring of numerous candidates whose resumes showed a history of extremely brief stints with various employers. Board members alleged that longtime district employees were being passed over in favor of less qualified outside candidates.
“I can’t see why people who have been working here don’t get preference over someone with nine months at one job and three month at another,” said board member Theresa Kelly. “Why are we bringing in people from different places when we have our own, and they are qualified?”
In that instance, Kelly was commenting on the hiring of Anthony Donatille as a night custodian at Proviso East and Danielle Murray as a night custodian at Proviso West.
Donatille had worked for the village of Melrose Park from June 2005 until October 2005, for Sam’s Club from November 2004 until January 2005, and for the US Census Bureau from July 2004 until September 2004.
Murray had worked for UPS from November 2005 until December 2005 and Clean “R” Us from October 2004 until August 2005. Though the agenda stated that he had previously worked at Triton College for 18 years, Kelly claimed that he had actually worked there for approximately one year.
Responding to Kelly’s questioning, Chief Education Officer Robert Libka stated that “the administration shared your concerns and this was discussed at the cabinet level,” but that the most qualified candidates were chosen for the job.
Kelly, however, was not satisfied. “All these people are going to be doing is pushing a broom and cleaning toilets, and you’re going to say he’s better qualified?” she replied.
“I would question why we would hire anyone with records of employment of less than one year at each job,” added board member Charles Flowers.
Also called into question was the hiring of Maria Aliasi as a Bookroom Clerk at Proviso East. Since 2004, Aliasi had held jobs at two dental clinics, a pizzeria, and an auto body shop.
Kelly said that the district had been training an employee for the job for months, and questioned why Aliasi had already begun working the job before receiving board approval.
“The best candidates have been selected,” said Libka, noting that it has been “fairly standard procedure” at the district for years for newly hired employees to begin work before receiving board approval and then be released if the board votes against their hiring.
Flowers questioned the wisdom of this practice, commenting that past practices did not justify current actions, as “things could have been done wrong in the past.”
“If hiring is based on board approval, why hire someone without the board and then go through the trouble of having to release them later?” he asked.
At the meeting, the board agreed to postpone voting on two construction contracts after Kelly questioned why the board hadn’t received any details or sketches of the projects the contractor would be working on.
The first was a $55,300 contract for the construction of an illuminated sign for the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in Forest Park. The contract was to be awarded to the Franklin Park based C. Johnson Signing Company.
The second contract was to be awarded to J&J Contractors of North Barrington in the amount of $22,900 for the construction of a sidewalk along the stretch of 1st Avenue outside the Math and Science Academy.
The sidewalk is required in order to comply with Forest Park Village Code, according to Forest Park Village Administrator Michael Sturino. “Where we have redevelopments we’re trying to get sidewalks in to make the town more pedestrian friendly,” he said.
The board will likely vote on the contracts at its February meeting, once members have been provided with more information.