It is Called a Public Trust for a Reason

A School Superintendent is alleged to be having an affair with one of the people who reports to him. How come there are payouts to a former GOP Commissioner?

There is a reason why elected officials come in large quantities.

Congresspeople, Senators, State Reps, Council Members, Commissioners, Supervisors, School Board Members all act as legislating bodies.  The idea is to take a large enough pool of people with varying degrees of experience and outlooks to share the load of governing ourselves.

My local school board has a problem.  It turns out the Superintendent, who theoretically answers to the school board, is alleged to be having an affair with one of the people who reports to him.  The local Fox News Station had a splashy story on it complete with salacious emails.

Both parties, it is alleged, have recently started divorce activities to break apart their families.  That is a sadness that will not be further explored here.  These families have enough problems without having their names being dragged through the media.  (This is also why there will be no links relating back to the original stories.)

This story is about how the government is conducting itself.

Since it does involve the Superintendent of the School District, these are delicate matters.

The school board chose to go public with the enlistment of the law firm of a former GOP County Commissioner to investigate the events at $150 per hour.  Never mind that the Lawyer’s current web site (http://pview.findlaw.com/lawyer/paul-baker-bartle/pa/norristown/MTk2MTkwN18x/PP ) lists him as an attorney who performs primarily Estate Planning and Wills.  Nowhere on his web site does it talk about the lawyer being able to do investigative work.  Nor does it mention if he performs Human Resource litigation.  Since the entire School Board are GOP members – I hear the faint sounds of the ceremonial circling of the wagons.

This week’s school board meeting offered no resolution to this issue.  It was the middle of October that this firm was hired.  We are now in the middle of December.

It is almost as though we have elected officials afraid or intimidated to do the jobs themselves.  We elect these folks with the idea we trust them enough to do these jobs.  We need to allow them that leeway sometimes.  It is called a public ‘trust’ for a reason.

How about this – there are nine members of the Methacton School Board.  All members of this board bring different experience to bear.  Some are business people who know what a manager/underling romance can do to the work environment.  One is actually a retired investigator by trade.  The school board has a human resource director specifically hired to understand the nuances of the thicket of policies of the day.  There is actually a solicitor already hired by the School Board. 

The Superintendent works for the School Board.  A sub-committee of the school board could have been appointed to pull the Superintendent into the back room and ask him some pointed questions.  Optionally, the board could have reached out to community members having the proper professional experience in this regard.

A sane, humane, and proper determination can then be made away from the prurient eyes of the press and public.  The committee could recommend any of the following along a wide spectrum of options:

  • Nothing happened here
  • Something happened, but we are getting the Superintendent Training on how to properly manage staff and get counseling for the families affected
  • Termination

The business people on the board like to boast about running government like a business – cheaply and effectively – then let’s see them do it.

We don’t need politicians getting payouts at the hint of someone messing up.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Feodor Tiorlenko December 08, 2012 at 02:19 AM
This is actually a topic worthy of discussion of discussion and debate. As we have recently learned, marital infidelity in the active military puts an officer in jeopardy of prosecution and removal of command as well as discharge. Do we apply this same standard to public service in public education. We can judge, for instance, that we don't want philanderers educating our children. Further, we can argue that public school district email and district owned cellphone communications are public domain subject to public scrutiny. My guess is that a disgruntled spouse intercepted communications between the two Methacton administrators and gave them to those investigative reporters at FoxPhilly News. A screw you retribution that only certain news outlets would find newsworthy. So we've ruined Tim Quinn and Diane Barrie. Neither should ever hold a job again, right? Cared enough about their profession to gain a doctorate but were so weak, or dependent, or socially, that they sought mutual gratification in a personal relationship tinged by the fact that Tim Quinn is Diane Barrie's boss. Let those among us who have not committed a misjudgment identify themselves and pronounce judgment upon these folks, their children, parents, siblings, students. BTW, go onto the Methacton website to learn of the District's official position. Here it is .....
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 08, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Feodor, I appreciate your commentary, however, both families involved here have enough to go thru without mentioning their names - or tainting the well for their futures. This is an article about how the School Board is handling this issue. I don't usually knock down someone's thoughts, but I would appreciate it if you would re-edit your comments. I guess I am asking for some sensitivity that these are people first rather than further ruining them. I am going to ask that your original comment be deleted. But I know this should get to you via email.
Mohandus Frieri December 09, 2012 at 02:26 PM
The fact is that this story was carried by FoxNews 29 and the Norristown Patch. This screams to the fact no one else found it newsworthy. Maybe Patch can just carry an "Affairs" section where "investigative reporters" report about people having sexual or love trysts. We can read each other's emails and transcripts of texts and phone conversations. We can gain vicarious gratification over others misery over their indiscretions. Apparently that is on higher moral grounds to you than talking about sausage smuggling administrators. Yeah for Joe the Nerd Ferraro and James Myers.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 09, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Excuse me - Mohandus - - I am saying it is newsworthy about how the government spends money. - I don't want the names of the principles in the press. - I hope you can re-read this piece as to what I am saying. This piece is about how the government is reacting to the situation. If someone has an affair I do not want payouts going to unqualified political functionaries when we already have people doing the job who were elected and sworn in to do so. Please show me where I am asking for any salacious details to be made public?
Feodor Tiorlenko December 09, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Paul Bartle is a former county commissioner, obviously well connected politically. Evidently the Methacton School Board has more information than they know what to do with. That's thanks to the slimey FoxNews29 reporter walking around with a fistful of intimate emails, stalking the superintendent. What is the real crime? Was it that they were using school district cellphones to carry on or was it that it was a waste of school district time in that they could be doing adminstrator stuff? Well, some of the canoodling was done between 4:00 a.m and 8:00 a.m. They are both consenting adults. The administrator is a career educator with the school district while the superintendent is a four year employee. And oh, by the way, two superintendents ago, the super was married to the high school librarian, both second marriages. The librarian's ex was also a teacher with the school district. You would think there had to be some canoodling on district time, right? Remember it ain't harassment if it's not unwanted. So, are a superintendent and assistant super evenly yolked? Well more so than a super and a librarian. So this embarassing affair just might go away. Maybe Bartle can be a magician and make this disappear.
Kyle Allebach December 09, 2012 at 10:12 PM
It's time for Quinn to go. It's rumored that this isn't his first time having an inappropriate relationship with a colleague. He's obviously a bad influence on the school district as a whole.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 10, 2012 at 03:09 AM
These are adults. They are humans first. Making moral judgements on this opens up a glass house that no one will ever want to step into.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 10, 2012 at 03:11 AM
You are willing to kill people's careers on rumors?
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 10, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Jack, I have gone to these meetings for quite some time on and off. These School Board members do not speak to the public. They are all GOP. I personally think they are more beholden to the GOP System than the school system - hence the point about bringing in a former GOP County Commissioner for $150 and hour rather than using their own experiences in house. It is almost as thought they do not realize the Superintendent works for them and not the other way around.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 10, 2012 at 03:12 PM
It is pretty funny you are saying they are acting like Dems. I used to be very (read:too) involved with the Dems. This is the way the GOP has been operating for the couple of decades I have lived here. If it is not a Skull and Crossbones deal - then why bring in a former GOP person who shows no real qualifications other than being GOP? He has proved he is a no-getter with a month-and-a-half investigation. I think this is something that is beyond the binary left-right Dem-GOP paradigm. This is the 'We got control and we will do what we want' paradigm. They want to use their cash this way - then fine. All a citizen can do is call them out on it.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 10, 2012 at 03:31 PM
been working on it...
Patti S. December 13, 2012 at 01:11 AM
There is an ethical dilemma, not one of character, if you date a person who works for you. It's a conflict of interest. If a Conflict of Interest document is filed and proper gates are placed to prevent preferential treatment or undue pressure, then I don't have an issue with it. However, if the affair was kept secret from the Human Resources personnel in the district, then ethical rules were violated and the man should lose his job. I don't care what his name is, that's the right thing to do. I'm not saying he should lose the opportunity to ever work again, but to make such an ethical breech should be punished.
truthsayer December 13, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I would agree that it seems like a waste of taxpayer money to hire a laywer to "investigate" the situation to which you refer, but here are the likely reasons for doing so... The subordinate to whom you referred was recently hired. This gives rise to the question of whether a preferential treatment was received, due to the implied relationship. Were there more qualified candidates for the job, and if so, could the district be at risk of a law suit? Are there specific policies in place that would prohibit co-workers from having a relationship? And are there policies that prohibit an employee from having a relationship with a person to whom they report directly? These are likely the reasons a lawyer is retained, so as to sort out the legal ramifications of such issues. Lawyers have complicated our society beyond belief, by bring suits for every conceivable reason, and they have guaranteed themselves a constant revenue stream in almost every aspect of our lives. You take this opportunity to bash Republicans, but miss the real danger to our society...lawyers.
truthsayer December 13, 2012 at 04:52 PM
As for the Fox 29 story, it seems like a non-story to me, and I was shocked that Fox 29 aired it. The story was based on innuendo and speculation, showing emails that could have come from any email account, including a jealous spouse. There was no evidence of any wrong doing, and the reporter stated it was newsworthy because it involved "public officials" who should be setting a good example for the children. Unfortunately, that shipped has sailed. No one much cared about the phyical relationship Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval office, and I can't see them caring about this incident. Since when did Fox 29 become the morality watchdog? However, should anyone lose their well-paid jobs over the story, I suspect the lawyers will be circling again, hoping to bring forth a law suit against the district and Fox 29, and then more tax dollars will be spent, and the lawyers will once again profit. Funny how the lawyers always come out on top, and we citizens pay the penalty.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 13, 2012 at 09:19 PM
it changes the work environment.
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 13, 2012 at 09:21 PM
actually the subordinate was a long time teacher who was promoted from within. The lawyer hired shows no indication of doing this type of work - I see only of a political connection..
Joe The Nerd Ferraro December 13, 2012 at 09:22 PM
the Fpx29 report aired about a month AFTER this lawyer was hired. still no word from the school board on this.


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