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January 9, 2013

Hire draws jeers

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NEWFANE –– The hiring of a laborer is under extensive scrutiny in the Newfane School District.

A group of Newfane residents aired concerns to the Newfane Board of Education about the appointment at a meeting Tuesday night. Issues rose about the hiring process, as well as a pair of memos which had been leaked to the public. The release of those memos was a breach of confidentiality, district officials said.

As for the hire itself, Peter Cocco said his son, Joseph, had been interviewed and chosen by the hiring committee as the recommended appointment. But, Cocco said his son did not get the job.

Instead on the meeting’s agenda, the board was going to appoint Stephen Dunn to the laborer position, effective Jan. 28. Ira Wolfe of Newfane also voiced his displeasure of the alleged switch.

“Integrity is at an all time low,” Wolfe said.

The memos and subsequent rumors made it seem the position was given to Dunn as a favor, the men said. The first memo, drawn up by Daniel Connolly, Newfane’s director of operations and facilities, then written formally by Connolly’s secretary, listed Dunn and a second candidate as the two recommended candidates for the job. Connolly ranked them, with Dunn as the top choice of the committee.

“I shouldn’t have ranked them,” Connolly said to the board.

The district declined to name the other candidate on the memo.

The first memo was sent to Superintendent Christine J. Tibbetts, who then had Business Administrator Bart Schuler contact the candidates’ professional references. Tibbetts told the board she could not contact current employers without the permission of the job candidate or if the employer was not listed as a reference.

Connolly told the board only one candidate had a professional reference that was an employer. That candidate also had extensive experience as a substitute cleaner in the Newfane district, he added.

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