Beaufort News

Superintendent Jeff Moss' annual review won't cover period of wife's hire

Superintendent Jeff Moss and school district attorney Drew Davis listen during a recent meeting of the Beaufort County School District board.
Superintendent Jeff Moss and school district attorney Drew Davis listen during a recent meeting of the Beaufort County School District board. dearley@islandpacket.com

This story was updated Nov. 10 to correct the sum superintendent Jeff Moss received as an annuity for the 2014-2015 year.

Jeff Moss' annual evaluation by the Beaufort County Board of Education will not cover any events of the past four months, including the controversial changing of a nepotism rule and the hiring of his wife.

The evaluation strictly looks at Moss' performance in the 2014-15 school year, from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. That means board members won't, as some previously thought, be able to examine the superintendent's actions related to the hiring of Darlene Moss and subsequent reaction to public outrage.

Several board members have said they expected that would be the appropriate place to broach the subject.

JoAnn Orischak, for one, said she had not asked to place the issue on a board agenda because she thought any concerns would come up during Jeff Moss' review.

Paul Roth also brought up the hiring of Darlene Moss and questioned Jeff Moss' actions during a human resources committee meeting two weeks ago, only to be told the board would discuss the superintendent's evaluation further at an upcoming work session.

It was not until that work session Saturday that board chairwoman Mary Cordray clarified the time period of the review.

"There's nothing that prevents the board from evaluating the superintendent at any point in time related to a specific issue at any point during the year," Cordray said after the meeting, but that hasn't been discussed yet.

"That will happen, I assume, if it's going to happen, during the review," she said.

On Saturday, the board unanimously approved a new form for Jeff Moss' evaluation that directly reflects the district's Strategic Plan.

The new rubric also uses different terminology.

"Some board members think it's a little easier to understand," Bill Payne said. "Questions are more in-depth. ... It's a little more concrete, and there is more room to write your comments."

Roth said the new form isn't perfect but is a vast improvement over the old evaluation.

"It was micromanaged to the point where it had important items mixed in with unimportant items, and they had the same rating. There was no intelligent overview you could read from that," Roth said.

Before, board members either rated Moss proficient, accomplished, distinguished or "not demonstrated," an option that required explanation. Now, members select either exceptional, proficient or needs improvement, and may leave a box blank if they don't know how to answer.

The forms also have different factors under which board members could address the accountability of the superintendent.

For example, the 2013-14 form asked whether the superintendent "provides information in a timely fashion to board members prior to decisions made concerning the district and district goals." It also asked whether he "ensures all board members receive all information requested by individual members to eliminate surprises."

The 2014-15 form asks whether he models "professional, moral and ethical standards as well as personal integrity in all interactions, assuming responsibility for personal actions and responding appropriately to actions of others."

Board members will receive a summary of Moss' work in each category by Wednesday.

They will then have until Nov. 17's meeting to complete the evaluation. Cordray said she will translate the board's thoughts into one document that members will discuss at a specially called meeting.

The board would decide Moss' penalty for a poor evaluation, members said. They could:

  • Seek to fire the superintendent
  • Create an improvement plan, or
  • Prior to Oct. 20, deny the superintendent his annuity.
  • This year, Moss received an annuity of about $22,000 automatically because the board was not done with the review.

    Last year, one year after he become superintendent, Moss received a favorable review. He was given a contract extension through 2020.

    Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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