Safety of students should be priority

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2008

A disagreement within the Symmes Valley Board of Education centers around transportation director Jeff Dial and exactly what the parameters of his duties should be.

Some bus drivers and two school board members — Brian Pancake and Kim Turner — disapprove of the decision to grant Dial a continuous contract. The opponents argue that anyone who directs or disciplines is forbidden by state law from being awarded a continuous contract.

School board members Mike Wall, Wayne Taylor and John Kelley approved of the measure, which passed 3-2 during Monday’s school board meeting. Superintendent Tom Ben and Kelley have indicated legal counsel was consulted before Dial was awarded the contract.

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“The board does all the hiring,” Kelley said. “He might recommend, but he doesn’t get any say so.”

Ben and Kelley both said Dial does not function in a disciplinary role on his own and therefore qualifies for a continuous contract, having already completed a one-year agreement and a two-year agreement with the school system.

Turner indicates the definition of a supervisor does not rest with the ability to hire and fire.

“If hiring and firing is what makes you a supervisor, then our superintendent isn’t a supervisor either,” Turner said.

It isn’t clear why the opponents do not wish for Dial to receive the contract and occupy a position that has previously been a part-time duty with less pay, but what is clear is that conflict exists within the district and Dial will not have an easy way to go.

There appears to be a legitimate question in how effective Dial can be in his new role if he is not considered a supervisor. In any case, all parties should remember the safe and effective transportation of students is the priority and proper communication should take place to make sure that is achieved.