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ONLY ON 3 INVESTIGATION: New Hanover Co. School superintendent exposes lack of in-house dating rules

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Tonight in an ONLY ON 3 investigation, we uncover a relationship between the superintendent of New Hanover County Schools and an employee he directly supervised; a relationship that may be impacting district policy.

Sources close to the situation confirm a relationship between Dr. Tim Markley and his former administrative assistant Stephanie Baltezegar.

School district leaders will not confirm the relationship, but the policy committee has been working to create a brand new policy for fraternization between employees for months.

For the past ten years, Baltezegar has been the administrative assistant to the superintendent; most recently for Markley, who started three years ago. Two months ago though, she was transferred to the finance department and then more recently to human resource just weeks ago. The district will not say why, saying it's a personnel issue.

"I can't speak to anything about personnel," school board members Jeannette Nichols told us at a recent meeting. "That is something you can speak with the superintendent about if you choose."

So we asked Markley at a recent school board meeting if he was having a relationship with Baltezegar.

"We are really not going to have a personnel discussion, but thank you," Markley said.

In August the school board asked Wayne Bullard, the district's attorney, to create a new policy outlining a new fraternization policy.

"We are just looking at all areas to make sure we have something in place so that everyone understands and follows," Nichols said.

The first draft of the policy, which has yet to be approved by the board, would define fraternization as a situation when two employees are in a supervisory/subordinate relationship and also in a personal relationship at the same time. The policy defines that relationship as getting engaged or married, living together, or entering into a romantic or sexual relationship or an affair. It would allow the relationship to continue if it's reported and if one of the employees accepts a voluntary transfer to another position that is not being supervised by the other in the relationship.

Baltezegar started working for the district in 1992 as a finance clerk. Personnel records show she worked her way up over the years, going from $15,000 a year to $35,000 her first year as administrative assistant in 2002, to almost $70,000 last year working for Markley. In July she was also given what the district calls "outside experience credit," which is a pay increase for something the employee did before working for the school system. According to a school spokeswoman, 185 employees also received the same credit. The district refuses to say what Baltezegar's outside experience credit was, but it knocked her salary from about $69,000 to about $75,000; some extra 500 dollars a month.

In September, the district also promoted Dr. Rick Holliday to deputy superintendent. It's the first time the district has had someone in that position in a decade. In a news release announcing the promotion, absolutely no reason was given as to why the the move was made.

In the meantime, the School Board's Policy Committee is still hammering out details on its new relationship rules. School board chair Don Hayes says the change has nothing to do with a relationship between Markley and Baltezegar. Other school board members tell us the change is designed to help the district's policy mirror state policy, especially because it deals with relationships between principals and teachers, for example, in which case potential raises and contracts could be affected.

The Policy Committee meets next week. No word yet if it will discuss the new dating rules.

WWAY tried multiple times to talk to Markley and Baltezegar about this story. They have so far not returned our calls.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Improprieties

Sad...John Morris as Superintendent hires his wife Lisa Morris to be Personnel Director, Rick Holliday, Ass't Supt. wife is named Principal at Holly Tree. Raises being given within the administration...corruption downtown. Needs to be investigated thoroughly. Markley is just the tip of the iceberg.
Wonder why teachers are frustrated...then the Board mandates no Red for Ed. shirts. Seems like the inmates are running the asylum.

ya ya ya

I don't think there is as big of an issue here as people are making. The real shame is that the perception of impropriety comes from Ms' B's raise when the teachers are making pennies.
If the teachers were paid well, the schools were properly funded, and all was right with the world, then this wouldn't be an issue.
People should get paid what they are worth. That is the American Dream. If she is worth her pay she should get it. Teachers should also be paid much more. the system is broken and this situation just highlights it.
And yes she is pretty hot. lol

Holliday is an old croney

Holliday is an old croney from the John Morris days......he got Holliday's wife a principalship.....Holliday has promoted numerous people to form his "team" for when he thought he would get to be super.....should Markley checkout who do you think is next in line.....the deputy superintendent.....remember, Markley also promoted Ms. Nichol's daughter to the principal position at Bradley Creek...do you get the picture here?....check the salaries on the Star News......this is disgusting!

Teachers' pay

I have no problem with the assistants making a good salary but do have a problem with them making more than our teachers. Many teachers have been with the NHCS for over 15 years and they don't even make $40,000. We need to get our priorities in order.

Suspension

I think this is a shame that our teachers who are the most important people get such low pay...but most of all I think they should be suspended without pay.. Are they?

Stephanie

I bet she's smokin' hot. Way to go Markley! You should have just been considerate to the good taxpayers of New Hanover County. For that alone you should be canned. I also would bet Stephanie won't have a problem getting a new job most anywhere. I would further bet that she leaves you if you get canned.

Markley and elimination of bus stops

Mr. Markley and DOT team is directly responsible for elimination of many elementary schools bus stops in 2013 which created a lot of unhappy parents and decreased safety. Parents have to spend at least 15 min escorting children to/from the bus. Older children go without adult supervision and sometimes run in front of the bus if late. On rainy days parents drive children 500 feet to a bus stop – creates extra traffic, wastes gas. Some parents have to leave younger children at home unsupervised. No clear answer was given by Mr. Markley and the director of Wilmington DOT (Ken Nance) to a simple question: “What benefits were gained as a result?” These bureaucrats should be either trained or fired.

Absolutely ridiculous

The county finance officer and employees had to be aware of the disparity in salaries of this employee, the other administrative assistants named, and the certified personnel. I retired with 30 years, an M.ED and National Board certification and I was making $59,000. If the secretaries are worth this much more than the teachers, assistant principals, coaches and many principals, let THEM teach the children. I'm sure there are many school employees from the cafeteria to the main office who would gladly trade positions and salaries. On different note, this became public because of the salary question and the fact that taxpayer dollars are paying these employees. Keep the fight clean. There are children and innocent spouses involved. Everyone involved will be lucky if it doesn't take these over-generous salaries and more to pay the psychiatrist bills for the children who are being affected by the publicity as well as the conflict at home. The school board needs to act quickly and not let this snowball into daily editorials and nasty headlines in the media.

They could spend that money in better ways

Here is what I would like to know. How can they pay a secretary $70,000.00 and why do other administrative people get pay raises when they claim they have no money to take care of teachers or of traffic and safety issues around the elementary schools? If they ever got off their butts and went to the schools in the mornings and afternoons they could see the mess that they are responsible for creating. Why don’t they use the secretary’s salary, the pay raises and the money that they are given from the traffic cameras to address these issues? Where does the money from the traffic cameras go? Waay why don’t you research this?

An Adm. Assistant Making over $75,000.00 A Year

While our college educated with a Master's Degree , Assistant Principals and even some Principals make less, not to mention our classroom teachers. Heck, even Teacher Assistants must have 2 years of college now and they certainly don't make anywhere what they deserve.
Teachers have gone without raises while more responsibility ,( requiring more time)is placed upon them. Then you have a secretary , (whatever the fancy title they gave her is , she's still just a secretary), doing far less than the actual secretaries in our schools making over 75K . And her retirement after 30 years will also be more than our classroom teachers with college degrees and 30 years in the classroom .
We need to hold our Bd. of Ed. members accountable, especially the Chair. He has told all sorts of tales to the media, obviously trying to cover up for Markley. He and the other old guy on the board need to go!

I'm so glad to see

I'm so glad to see impropriety in a new area here in New Hanover County. Give the police and fire guys a much needed break!

Random thoughts

I have no dog in this fight except for tax dollars being spent - my kids are all grown......in no particular order:

First - marital infidelity is a private issue for MOST people, however when your salary is paid by tax dollars your infidelity is an embarrassment to the county and the taxpayers that provide your salary so yes you are a PUBLIC official and have to comply with more stringent oversight. The ILM Fire Department officer who was drunk on the job is another example of public officials behaving badly - Markley is much higher up the food chain so the oversight SHOULD have been stricter.

Second - the secretary's pay is outrageous and the implications of the affair tied to the salary increases is too glaring to ignore. Remember, she is a public servant, and will get a public pension which is taxpayer supported. At $35K after 30 yrs she'd get $20K (rounded off). At $75K after 30 years she gets $49K+ so the legacy costs associated with this "affair" are borne by the taxpayers and will cost us dearly.

School board - sorry but you are ALL at fault whether you wanted Markley fired or not. Old baggers, Tea Baggers, Republican or Democrat - it doesn't matter. As noted above the financial burden posed by this "affair" far out weigh the moral implications. If the school board was changing policy to "accommodate" this affair instead of firing Markley then you have failed in your responsibility to the taxpayers! This goes along with Don Hayes emails concerning budgets related to security and the desire to keep them confidential when they are in fact public record. This attitude of keeping us un-informed has now reached a level where I no longer trust the school board. This is unfortunate and politically a disaster for all concerned. An untrustworthy public official is not qualified for re-election regardless of politics or party affiliation in my mind. This will solidify my anti-incumbent attitude when I go to the polls.

Markley needs to go and the entire school board needs to be replaced in the next election.

Vog

Salary???

Is the trading of sexual favors for compensation no longer illegal in this State? They both should be arrested......one for prostitution and the other for solicitation. Any involved in the attempted cover up should also be arrested. The Attorney General's Office needs to do a complete investigation of New Hanover County.

VOG

a couple of further points which can come home to roost.

If the marital infidelities were the result, in part, of the employment system and lack of non-fraternization policy; both spurned spouses would have the right to seek damages from the School Board and County.

Next step, which of the wayward individuals made the first advance? If the Super moved first, the Secretary's spouse has the right to sue him for alienation of affections. If the Secretary made the first moves, then the Super's wife has grounds to sue the Secretary. And in North Carolina, they can sue for up to $1 million; and there have been awards that high during the past 2 years.

Even if he loses his job tomorrow, the financial hit could come 3 or 4 years down the road.

Well Tom

What if both say it was mutual?
Again - the board itself is comprised of elected officials and are therefore protected against lawsuit in NC if I'm not mistaken. The county could probably be sued but they do have insurance.
No matter what WE pay for it all and I find this to be irresponsible spending related to "protecting" a high ranking official by our school board.
I no longer trust them to tell us the truth.

Vog

They can probably also sue the Board of Ed.

Bd. of Ed . has deep pockets and since they didn't fire Markley they are probably even more liable. I hope Stephanie husband's attorney will go after Markley and the Bd. he 'd better be looking for a mighty high paying job elsewhere.

Thanks WWAY for staying on this story.

Randy

School board members are elected officials and cannot be sued in NC - I believe.

Vog

VOG

as a body and employer, the Board of Education and the County can be sued.

Tom-

Correct, as a board or commission they can be sued.
But if I'm not mistaken ONLY IF the policies in place lead to this affair.
Lawyers will argue this ad nauseum I'm sure and far be it for me to interpret law.........
But if these two lovers are together still I would guess that they have already conspired to make this as unprofitable as they can for they rejected spouses.

suing a board or commission places a bigger burden of proof upon the plaintiff to prove harm and in this case the lack of a policy is not legal justification for a lawsuit in my humble nonlegal opinion.
Politically it's a disaster for the BoE - because the timing indicates they were addressing this after the fact and most news stories allude to no disciplinary action being taken against either one.
I think the damage would be more political than financial (unless both were terminated)

Vog

VOG

the suit would be against the employer which happens to be the Board of Education. And they in their infinite wisdom make the plaintiff attorney's job easier by attempting to formulate a fraternization policy after the fact.

For the spouse with grounds for suit, a judgement is good for 20 years in NC; and can be renewed for another 20 if still unsatisfied.

Ain't love grand?

Tom

A LACK of specific policy is not a good basis for a lawsuit. The school board's actions (or lack thereof) would have to be shown to have contributed to this affair. I suspect that would be highly unlikely
This is a "personal/personnel issue" with political ramifications.
I doubt that any lawsuit of this kind would be successful in this case.
The political fallout will be fun to watch. On one hand we have those that don't want Markly fired or disciplined, then we have the others that worked with the other group and kept it all quiet.
Markley should go and the School board be replaced, in it's entirety.

Vog

VOG

any half wit attorney can show the lack of policy contributed to an atmosphere conducive to spouse infidelity. Add that to later cover up attempts, you have strong grounds for suit with an out of court settlement likely.

On another note, I recall Nixon had challenges from Watergate. not because he approved it or participated in it; not because he was initially aware of it. His problems arose from the cover-up. wonder if there would be similar challenges for members of the Board?

Corrupt System

It is about time this came out. Teachers AND parents have known for a long time. And it is our business because it is OUR tax dollars paying their salaries. Rumors are spreading that Dr. Markley "created" a position for her that had previously not existed. This may be false info but it would be nice if WWAY would look into that piece of information.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Markley is under scrutiny because he still has a job to do and I do not believe he is doing it effectively. The School Board and Markley were recently made aware of a Principal in this county that has broken several NC General Statues and falsified documents that were filed with the School Board. These actions are punishable by law and minimal action has been taken. This is definitely a "good ole boy" system that turns a blind eye. Maybe WWAY could "request" emails that have been sent to Dr. Markley that are not marked as confidential and see what else they have been sweeping under the rug...it's all public info.

What a pay raise!

The last time the taxpayers saw such a significant pay increase was with the ABC board and Billy Williams. Mr. Williams is laughing all the way to the bank during his golden retirement years. This is another example of the corruption in our higher institutions where people are UNJUSTLY rewarded. The NHC school board has lost all credibility with the public trying to sweep it under the rug and should face the same fate as the ABC board. Time for some transparency and probing into central office's salaries.

Dr. Markley and the school board need to be shown the door because their ability to lead has been seriously compromised. As to how these people can go around school to school and look school employees in the eyes is beyond me. Shame on all of you !

FIRE THE SCHOOL BOARD !

The NHC school board has been in " cover up " mode for several months by establishing policies concerning relationships. Only executives in the public and private sector receive a 100 percent pay raise , NOT a secretary! This is where the true problem starts. The school board , probably with the persuasion of the superintendent , signed off on a 100 percent pay raise. This is irresponsible and the secretary's worth is not greater than that of other school employees struggling in a poor economy. Talk about a morale killer. NHC school board ,you have it and you need to do some explaining or each and everyone of you need to be thrown out of office.

Now , let's talk about character and integrity. This superintendent and any cohorts involved are very poor role models and are held to a higher standard because they voluntary chose public office. Time to clean house and let your voices be heard by emailing board members and attending the next board meeting. Hopefully, they will not crawl under their tables and declare it a personnel matter because there will be serious repercussions from the voters once informed.

Not all board members in the wrong!

I agree with much of what you wrote! One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a majority of school board members to act. Do some investigating, and you'll find that at least one of the newly elected board member was in favor of firing Markley. Three to four doesn't get the job done. It IS time for the good-old boy network to get gone!!

I did the investigating ...

And from what I've learned it's a 3 to 4 vote to fire Markley, but 3 of the oldies and 1 newbie just don't have the backbone .

Who voted for and who voted

Who voted for and who voted against? I'd like to know for next voting.

As a NHCS veteran teacher

As a NHCS veteran teacher with 22 years experience, my annual salary is $46,840.

An annual salary of $75,000 equals $6250 per month gross.

Even if Ms. B worked 10 months rather than 12, her salary would instead be $62,500.

That's $15,660 more than I make.

Over $75,000.00 salary -

Wish teachers had the opportunity to advance as Stephanie ,Markley's secretary evidently did . No college requirement for her and teachers have at least 4 years and certification / re certification. What a joke.
Keep up the good work WWAY !