In March 2021, the North Penn School District adopted Policy 832 that contains the statement: “Actively recruit and/or promote highly qualified candidates who are committed to educational equity.” (emphasis added)
What is the definition of highly qualified? At a minimum, it should include meeting the qualifications for the position. Ideally, highly qualified means exceeding the minimum requirements.
Last summer, North Penn School District advertised for a Technology Support Assistant position. The job posting stated that applicants needed to have three to five years of technology experience and customer service experience. Despite getting many qualified applicants, the district chose to hire someone who had no technology experience at all.
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Several parents questioned the hiring of the candidate, and one parent, Jason Lanier, asked the superintendent directly. According to Lanier, the superintendent stated he was not aware of the credentials of the candidate. Neither the superintendent nor the district responded to a request for comment.
Interestingly, the local mayor of Lansdale criticized community members for raising concerns about the hiring of this staff. In an op-ed written in Dec. 2022, Mayor Herbert chastised local residents while not ever addressing the technical qualifications of the employee.
When the superintendent could not answer his questions about the newly hired Technology Assistant, Lanier filed a Right-to-Know Request. In Dec. 2022, he requested the qualifications of all applicants for the position, including the staff who was hired. The district responded to the request and provided redacted documentation with the qualifications of each applicant. There were two applicants with one year of experience, one applicant with three years of experience, one applicant with five years of experience, and one applicant with 29 years of experience. All these candidates were rejected.
The staff that was hired previously worked at Wegmans as the head sushi chef for over six years. Prior to that, he was employed as a salon and spa manager for three years. The only Information Technology reference on his resume was a certificate he earned in June 2022. His resume denotes that he earned a “Technical Support Certificate” in Information Technology from Coursera, which appears to be an online training program. His LinkedIn profile matches his resume in terms of experience and education.
It raises the question: what else is the district not being transparent about?
The job posting from North Penn School District summarizes the responsibilities: “The Technology Support Assistant provides first level technical support and facilitates the implementation and daily use of technology within the school and/or building.” It further lists thirteen essential functions for the position. These include “identify, diagnose, and resolve hardware, software, and operating system problems and questions that occur during daily use.” The applicant must also “provide just-in-time support for staff members in the use of technology and a/v tools as identified by the district (including Interactive Projectors and Whiteboards, Microsoft products, Google portal, cloud storage tools)” and “maintain all technology, including computer labs for use on a daily basis and in accordance with district guidelines for student issued devices.”
That’s a lot, but given how much technology is used in kids’ education these days, it’s not unreasonable. These essential functions clearly require some level of expertise and experience, and it’s likely why the district stated that three to five years of technology experience was needed. The position did not require any specific education or certification other than a GED or high school diploma.
Based on these facts and a lack of response from the district, it is perplexing as to why the district hired a candidate with absolutely no technology experience. According to his resume and LinkedIn profile, he has not ever been employed in a technology role or worked in a school setting. There were multiple other candidates with more experience than him, yet for some reason the district determined he would be the best candidate.
Why is the district not being transparent about the reasons behind hiring this staff member? Based on the qualifications, this person was not only the least qualified for the position, he did not meet the minimum experience requirements. He certainly would not fall into the district’s expressed policy of “highly qualified candidates.” Absent a comment or explanation from the district, parents and taxpayers are left wondering whether North Penn’s hiring practices are fair and equitable.
Following receipt of the Right-to-Know Request, parent Lanier is left with more questions than answers.
“I do not understand the district’s rationale for hiring this staff. In comparing the qualifications of all ten applicants that were considered for this position, he was, objectively, the least qualified candidate,” he said. “The requisite experience for this position is listed as three to five years’ Technology experience. The hired staff had no such prior work experience. In fact, according to his own LinkedIn profile, he had just received his certification the month prior to being interviewed.
“No one involved in the hiring process i.e. the Human Resources Department at NPSD, including the superintendent, has been able to provide an explanation regarding why this candidate was selected over the more qualified, experienced candidates. It raises the question: what else is the district not being transparent about?”
Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty.
3 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica: North Penn School District’s questionable hiring practices”
Since the names are redacted, how do you if the seemingly more qualified applicants didn’t fail a drug test, fail a background check, bomb an interview. not have good references, etc? You don’t know enough about this to comment.
True, which makes it even more important for the school district to address in a public manner what the criteria to offer this person the position ended up being. They have redacted names from resumes, so there is no harm to say ‘one candidate failed a drug test, another one failed his background check’ etc. If they felt NO qualified candidates applied at that time they could always have reposted or delayed filling the role until someone who met the minimum hiring criteria and could pass a drug test etc came along.
Dr. Rosica simply questions the North Penn School District’s decision to hire an applicant who apparently lacked the stated criteria of 3 to 5 years experience in technology. NPSD has reasons for rejecting the applicants with apparently years of experience in IT.
I think it reasonable for those who spend public funds to be transparent about their decisions. Redaction mitigates harm and doing business behind curtains is best left for Wizards living in Oz.