WEST WARWICK – Angel Messier, a substitute teacher assistant for the West Warwick School District, spoke out at a recent school committee meeting against the current policy that does not allow a relative to be hired if a family member is on the school committee.
Messier’s husband, Chris, holds the School Committee seat in Ward 4.
“My job started two years ago, before my husband ran for school committee and I understand the policy but the policy is outdated,” said Messier. “Why should a person be held back? It’s discriminatory and outdated.”
According to Paul Vigeant, human resource director for the West Warwick School Department, Messier is a substitute teacher assistant for the school district and can be a substitute but not go beyond that due to her husband’s position on the committee.
“The current policy prohibits her from advancing her career and this is the dilemma the committee is currently working on — if that should be changed or not.” Vigeant said.
Her frustration, voiced at the August 13 meeting, follows on the heels of the July 30 meeting when the committee discussed the need to review and update the policy binder that hasn’t had a serious review since the early 80’s according to committee members and the committee liaison Jim Williamson, a former school committee chairman who has kept records of just about everything school district-related over the years.
The policy binder is supposed to be reviewed and updated every three years, according to Williamson and members of the committee.
He added that if someone was hired prior to a family member being elected, then there’s no problem.
Messier can not be appointed as a long-term substitute and can not be hired as a part-tine teacher’s assistant with no benefits.
According to Messier, she recently applied for a part-time teacher’s assistant position at Wakefield Hills but was not hired.
“I know they like to hire and promote from within and I know some of the people they hired weren’t from the West Warwick School Department,” she said. “It’s very frustrating.”
School Committee Chairman Sean Murphy stated it during the July meeting but reiterated again that he does not believe in nepotism.
“I believe a person who is best qualified should get the job and if it’s someone related to a school committee member then he/she should recuse themselves,” Murphy said. “We’re moving forward and updating these policies that date back to 1981. We’re going to take a look at these policies and because this particular topic is found in chapter two and that’s up next; it should happen relatively quick, although it won’t be in time to help out Mrs. Messier.”