Standing Up for Hancock County

March 28, 2022

Hancock County Schools Faculty and Staff Overwhelmingly Vote “No Confidence” in Superintendent Petrovich and the Hancock Board of Education

HANCOCK COUNTY  On Friday, March 25, representatives from the Hancock County Education Association (HCEA) as well as all other school personnel passed an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the leadership of Hancock County Superintendent Dawn Petrovich and the governance of the Hancock County Board of Education led by Board President Danny Kaser.

Once all ballots were counted, 93.4% of school personnel voted they no longer have confidence in Petrovich to continue in her role as the chief officer of Hancock County Schools. Also, 92% of the votes reflected those personnel have no confidence in the Board of Education Members Danny Kaser (Grant), Chris Gillete (Butler), Toni Hinerman (Butler), and Larry Shaw (Grant) to continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of employees, students, and the public.

HCEA maintains Superintendent Petrovich and four members of the Board of Education are unfit to hold their positions because they are inadequate leaders, are failing to perform obligations, and are making decisions that are detrimental to Hancock County Schools.

Recently, Board Members Kaser, Gillette, Hinerman, Shaw, and Superintendent Petrovich were found to have engaged in unfair hiring practices when they recommended and hired Sarah Parsons for the Director of Personnel. An administrative law judge ruled they failed to perform this duty.

Below are several key issues that led the HCEA to undertake this vote:

  • Interview committees for administrative jobs consist of four or more people to conduct the interview. For the Director of Personnel, only two people were involved in the interview process, Petrovich and Finance Director, Joe Campinelli. As this was a position with personnel and curriculum duties, Campinelli should not have been included as it did not pertain to finance. Petrovich and Campinelli have close personal ties to Parsons.
  • Petrovich failed to award points on the matrix as required by WV State Code, nor did she rank candidates based on objective qualifications. She decided Parsons had the best interview, but she did not make notes on the matrix for the interview category. If the position was vacated or declined, the Board would need to vote on the second-place candidate, but that was not possible because Petrovich failed to comply with policy.
  • When a school board member asked for the notes on the interviews or to see the matrix, Petrovich refused. Petrovich hindered the Board in their duty. One Board member voted “no” because she did not have the evidence she needed for legal justification of hiring.
  • The Board did not have the evidence they needed to hire Parsons, but they voted to hire her anyway. The Board was not diligent in its duties to understand state law. Board Member Larry Shaw testified that the Board relied on what Petrovich told them to make their hiring decision, not objective information. Without justification, the Board should have never undertaken a vote. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.
  • The administrative law judge determined Petrovich overstepped her role when she decided the weight of the selection factors. This was the Board’s responsibility.
  • Parsons falsified information pertaining to her education on her resume. For most employers not telling the truth on an application would be automatic grounds for dismissal, but not in Hancock County Schools.
  • Petrovich awarded Parsons seniority for her substitute teaching. This failed to comply with law and policy.
  • The superintendent has not been completing annual evaluations on principals as is required by law, State Board policy, and Hancock County policy. Evaluations must be used for promotion and hiring decisions.
  • Another applicant, having a Ph.D. and three master’s degrees, one of which is in Human Resources, and with more experience than Parsons applied for the job and was denied.  The applicant with the Ph.D. filed a grievance that proceeded to a level three hearing.
  • During Petrovich’s testimony, she admitted Parsons’s false resume information was concerning, but still maintains she is trustworthy and would hire her again.
  • Petrovich admitted to a close relationship with Parsons as the two vacation together, dine out, and exchange gifts. They also have a weekly Starbucks date on Tuesdays.  Parsons is Petrovich’s emergency contact on her personal medical information.
  • Petrovich failed in her legal duties, and the Board failed in their legal duties.
  • Upon obtaining a ruling from the administrative law judge, four members of the board of education voted to appeal the decision which will cost taxpayers more than the $20, 505 already spent to defend themselves this case. Petrovich and the Board have a fiduciary responsibility to be prudent with taxpayer money.
  • The decision rendered by the administrative law judge merely required the Board to repost the position and ensure a fair hiring process. Four members of the Board voted to appeal having to repost the position and conduct a fair hiring process. They appealed fairness.

Most school personnel participated in the no confidence vote. Weir Middle School faculty and staff were not permitted to participate because the principal and a secretary refused to allow employees to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

HCEA President Quote: “The overwhelming support for a Vote of No Confidence in Superintendent Petrovich and the Board of Education sends a powerful message to the Hancock community and the entire state that the employees of Hancock County do not support the practices, policies, or illegal decisions being made by Dawn Petrovich and the Board of Education. While we hope the Superintendent and the Board Members resign from their positions, we also know that their numerous failures make it hard for them to admit to their mistakes. It is time for an immediate change in our district leadership as Petrovich and Board Members Kaser, Gillette, Hinerman, and Shaw have demonstrated by their actions and decisions that they are unfit for their positions; therefore, let it now be resolved that a majority of Hancock employees have decided that they have no confidence in the leadership of Superintendent Dawn Petrovich and Board Members Kaser, Gillette, Hinerman, and Shaw.”

A final decision on accountability for Superintendent Petrovich and the Hancock County Board of Education should be determined by the state school board because the current leadership has failed to adhere to policy, law and to exercise responsible financial obligations to the taxpayers of Hancock County.

Melanie Donofe
HCEA Co-President