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June 6, 2014

West Clark teacher stays put

Albert not transferred based on nepotism policy

SELLERSBURG — An involuntary transfer of a Henryville Junior/Senior High School teacher was stopped before protesters could protest at West Clark Community Schools’ board of trustees meeting Thursday.

Parents and students were afraid the board was about to consider moving Karen Albert, who is married to principal Troy Albert, to Silver Creek Middle School, citing a nepotism policy the district first adopted in 1980.

Monty Schneider, West Clark Community Schools superintendent, said he knew several attended the meeting to support Albert, but they didn’t need to worry about her leaving the school.

“We thought we needed [a teacher] for increased students,” Schneider said. “The way finances are today, we’re not going to create a position just to be creating one.”

The policy says the board can employ relatives of administrators, which includes principals, as long as that administrator is not their direct supervisor. Albert argues that since she reports to Bill Niece at the school, her husband is not her direct supervisor. She said she was caught off guard when she learned that she could face reassignment because of an overlooked policy.

“I’m in the same job as I was seven years ago,” Albert said. “Then comes three weeks ago and I’m notified that there may be a strong possibility that I might be transferred because the board is adjusting this nepotism policy.”

She said if she were transferred, it would take her time to rebuild the relationships at a new school that have made her so effective.

“I’m taking a stand for my community, my school, my parents, my teachers and my students,” Albert said. “I want the best for them. It takes a long, long time to build the rapport ... to do the things that I’ve done and I don’t want to lose it.”

Schneider said the policy has been in effect all along, but the board is about to review a new set of policies that would also affect the one in question.

He said it’s possible that in the future, the policy would allow the administrator to sign a conflict of interest statement — similar to what board members use — to offer full disclosure of their relation to any employees under them.

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