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Policy allowed for promotion

The unexpected departure of Buckingham County Public Schools’ (BCPS) athletic director prompted the school board to fill the vacancy without advertising the position outside of the BCPS division.

Dr. Cecil Snead

Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said for the majority of open positions, the division advertises them.

However, due to the unexpected nature of the departure and its close proximity to the upcoming school year, Snead said school board policies have provisions in place to transfer existing staff to positions that would ease the experience for incoming students.

The transfers took place following the departure of Dr. Jeff Garrett, who served as athletic director and assistant principal at Buckingham County High School (BCHS) and was tapped to serve as principal of E.C. Glass High School on Aug. 1.

Russ Gowin, a physical education (PE) teacher at Buckingham County Middle School (BCMS), started his role as athletic director — filling the vacancy — Aug. 14.

Citing the transition, Snead provided the school board’s policy, which gives a provision — under certain circumstances — to fill a vacant position without advertisement.

“The school board may authorize the filling of a position to accommodate the disability of an employee, to transfer an employee when it is determined to be in the best interest of the school division, to satisfy the rights of employees returning from leave, to move an employee whose performance is unsuccessful to a position in which the employee might be successful, or to discipline an employee for conduct deficiencies,” the policy cited.

“The school board reserves the right in certain circumstances to promote people within the division without advertisement,” the policy cites.

Snead said the position filling was done primarily to give students and those who participate in athletics a smooth transition into the new school year, which began Aug. 3.

“We did several transfers to help minimize the impact of our organizations because we had a qualified person for the athletic director position, so that the kids would be supported throughout the whole process,” Snead said.

Snead noted that an instructional assistant position was advertised as a result of the transfers.

On Aug. 9, the school board transferred Gowin from his position as a BCMS PE teacher to the athletic director position. Chris Baird, a Buckingham County Elementary School (BCES) PE teacher, was transferred to BCMS to take Gowin’s former position. An instructional assistant with BCES, Brett Jones Baird, was transferred to Chris Baird’s former position as the BCES PE teacher.

Snead said this left the BCES instructional assistant position open, which was advertised within the school buildings and on the division’s website. Snead said third-party avenues are used when there are no qualified candidates available.

“We took a high-profile impact position where we didn’t have a whole lot of time and we were able to fill that within and get it done within the policies of guideline GBN,” Snead said, citing the board’s policy, “and minimize widespread impact by hiring a more localized impact in that of an instructional assistant.”