The city’s school district engaged in questionable hiring practices that at least in one instance led to the hiring of an unqualified chief human capital officer, according to an audit conducted by the New Jersey Department of Education.
For 29 out of 31 new hires the auditors sampled for 2015-16 the district was unable to provide documentation supporting the reason for hiring the candidates. “Evidence of the scoring and ranking of applicants by the interview committee and the rational for selection of the successful candidate was not available,” reads the audit report.
The auditors found interview notes for 27 out of the 31 hires, but “rational for the selection did not exist.” The district told the auditors the documents were not kept in a central location, but is retained by the originator. The district was not able to locate the documentation at the auditor’s request.
This was one of four findings by the auditors. In another finding, the auditors found the district failed to follow a proper time frame for intervening and hiring candidates.
In the most damning finding in the audit, the district hired a chief human capital officer without the required administrative certificate and master’s degree.
Adriane Esquilin, the chief human capital officer, was hired on Feb. 17th, 2016. She needed an administrative certificate, a master’s degree, and five years of experience as a teacher or counselor.
“A review of the file determine the candidate did not possess the required credentials,” reads the audit. “The auditors were unable to obtain documentation to support the decision regarding the hiring of the candidate.”
The district gave her the opportunity to obtain the proper certification and master’s degree within two years of hire date. She resigned on Jan. 6th, 2017.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans on Wednesday appeared to defend the hiring of the apparent unqualified human capital chief. “The candidate did meet state requirements. We set our bar higher,” he said. “We didn’t hire someone that didn’t meet state criteria for that position.”
The auditors were also checking to verify job requirements were not tailored to specific candidates. To do this the auditors needed to compare prior job and current postings. Prior postings were sought for 9 of the 31 position in the sample. The district was able to provide just four of the nine postings.
Findings were presented to school board members on Wednesday of last week.
“We made a few mistakes here and there as it relates to hiring, but overall considering the number of people — 300 to 500 a year — I think we’ve done exceptionally well. We’re not perfect,” Evans told school board members.
The audit garnered no discussion from board members.
The district has prepared a corrective action plan to fix the issues the auditors found. This plan includes keeping applicant records on file and readily available at a central location, ensuring applicants meet advertised qualifications, keeping adequate records of all postings, and an “until filled” label on job postings that remain on its jobs system for more than 10 days.