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Feb 26, 2010 6:46 PM by James Jarman

Update: D-22 response to nepotism accusations

Update: Terry Ebert's been the D-22 school superintendent for 6 years and says even before he got to Ellicott, the district employed members of several families - including the former superintendent's wife.  Currently, Ebert's wife also works for the district.

"If there were ever an employment issue I wouldn't be involved with it," he says, "the high school principal would be the one that would make the determination of what the outcome would be."

That technically keeps them from violating the district's own policy which forbids an employee from supervising an immediate family member.  

Ebert says last August he became the immediate supervisor of a temporary district employee, who worked as a finance assistant for the district's office manager.  The office manager was the employee's mother.

Ebert says the employee was only filling in while the district searched for a permanent employee, which took 6 months.  Based on the hourly wage for that position she was paid more than $10,000 over the 6 months she filled in.

"I've said from the beginning I understand the perception and I understand the policy and that's why it wasn't going to be a permanent situation," he said.

Even so, he says the office manager's daughter wanted the job to become permanent.
  
"She did put in an application," he said, "and because of the concern and by policy, I wasn't going to permanently be the direct supervisor of the position, temporarily yes, but long term no."

So, she didn't get the job, but he says has been filling in for another open position, which is at the high school.

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Update: Ellicott school Dist 22 Supt. Terry Ebert admits that using the district business manager's daughter for 6 months of temporary work in her mother's office was not ideal. He says an auditor told them it would be OK, but she could not be hired permanently. He reports being frustrated that it took so long to hire a permanent employee for the rural district.

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Several parents and a school district insider say they want an outside audit of the Ellicott School District administration.

Accusations of nepotism over the past 6 months, have led to concerns involving the district's budget.

Carey Adams raised questions in October after finding a district financial error involving her son.  The district claimed he qualified for free lunches, which Adams knew wasn't true, because she says she and her husband are "well off" thanks to lucrative real estate deals.  They moved to Ellicott 7 years ago, and she now runs the non-profit God's Pantry in Fountain, which provides free and discounted clothes and food to the poor.

She found out the school district error was made by the business manager's assistant, who was also the business manager's daughter.  "And I said 'well we can't have family members counting the money in our district, that doesn't seem right,'" it was a concern she brought up at an October 2009 school board meeting and then again this month, after she found out the manager's daughter was given a different position called a substitute filer.

News First 5 has received a half dozen calls and emails on this issue from concerned parents and a teacher, most asked to remain anonymous, fearing district retaliation against them and/or their children.

The district's own ethics policy forbids employees from supervising immediate family members.

School superintendent Terry Ebert says the employee in question is not currently employed by the district.  He says she was temporarily filling in while the district searched for a permanent employee. 

In an October 2009 letter to Adams he said the issue was "discussed with the district's auditor and we are following his advice regarding the use of an interim employee."

Ebert said he couldn’t meet with News First 5 before the posting of this story, but an interview is planned.  We will post the update here when that happens.

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