T.C. crew coach hiring practices questioned


T.C. Williams administrators are reviewing their hiring practices after a paperwork irregularity arose during the selection of a new head girls crew coach, forcing them to start from scratch. 

A committee of three, comprised of administrators and Alexandria Crew Boosters members, first interviewed candidates for skipper of the girls lightweight eight boat in October, said T.C. principal Suzanne Maxey. Though the committee selected a candidate, the school board never confirmed him, she said. The offer was rescinded when irregularities came to light about a week later. 

Maxey could not identify the candidate because of laws prohibiting her from discussing personnel matters. She would not say who brought the paperwork issue to the attention of officials, but said administrators opted to begin anew. 

 Sources familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the initial hiring was flawed from the start. The position was not publically advertised long enough to meet fair hiring practices, administrators reviewed two-year-old applications for some candidates despite current ones being on file, and parents protested after the leading candidate allegedly posted a photo on Facebook of the girls working out, sources said. 

Maxey rejected claims the school had diverted from fair hiring practices, saying problems arose from paperwork issues. She confirmed the existence of a photo and that the school held a meeting with the crew team and their parents, but said the two were unrelated issues.Parents and students were called in to discuss problems with the hiring process, Maxey said. 

I can tell you that at ACPS our processes are going to be fair and proper, Maxey said. The process was absolutely fair at the end. There were some issues at the beginning we had to straighten out to make sure we were being fair. 

Martha Blakeslee, president of the crew boosters, did not return repeated calls for comment.

The school held a second round of interviews in November, this time using a committee of five to review the candidates. Mercedes Kiss, an alumnus of the program, was selected for the job. The school board has not yet confirmed her for the position after cancelling their last meeting due to a snowstorm. 

The ordeal has officials giving their hiring process a closer look. The original committee was comprised of five members, though two were unable to make the interviews, Maxey said. Even when the second committee was formed, one of the six members was absent, she said. 

Maxey expects hiring decisions in the future will be made only after the paperwork is in order and candidates are properly vetted with a full panel of boosters and staff. Thats what expect every time, she said. If we do that were in good shape.