The East Liverpool Board of Education is doing the right thing by appealing an arbitrator's ruling that the board erred when it filled the high school football head coaching position in 2008.
At that time the board voted to go outside of the school district and hire Mark Asher as varsity football coach.
Asher proved to be a good choice. He was named Ohio Eastern District Division II coach of the year this past season after leading East Liverpool to an 8-3 mark which included a home playoff game. It was the Potters' first playoff appearance since 2002.
A member of the teachers' union, Ron Paul, had applied for the position. The school board maintained that the Athletic Committee checked Paul's references and employment history and learned that "most of (Paul's) prior employers and references would not recommend him for a coaching position; (Paul) had problems following the directives of his supervisors; and (Paul) had numerous clashes with assistant coaches."
The East Liverpool Education Association contended that Paul was qualified for the position and, therefore, must be hired by the board and an arbitrator has agreed.
Unless the school board successfully appeals the decision, Paul must be given the head football coach position for the upcoming season and the board must also pay Paul more than $18,000 for the income he lost during Asher's two-year tenure.
Anyone who has ever been involved in the hiring process knows that a lot of the decision-making is subjective. Many times a candidate will present a stellar resume showing that they are well-qualified for a job, but an employer may have a gut feeling that the person is just not the right fit for that position. Obviously the school board must have felt this way about Paul.
According to the arbitrator, the East Liverpool Board of Education is not allowed that subjective decision-making freedom. The union contract says that if a qualified union member applies for the job, they must be hired, and that is it.
According to a former board member, during the last round of negotiations with the teachers' union, two board members wanted to insert additional language into the contract that would allow the school board to determine who was most qualified when it came to supplemental contracts like coaching.
The former BOE member said the contract addition was never brought up by the board's negotiation team, therefore it was not included.
We hope the school board prevails in its appeal of the arbitrator's decision in common pleas court. And, we hope that during the next round of negotiations the board will fight to include language in the contract to allow them to be in full control of supplemental contract hiring decisions.