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

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Submitted: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 3:59am
Updated: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:24pm

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.

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

2015 years 8 months ago

While, personally, I think it is a bad practice to have an intimate relationship with any co-worker that you have to supervise, as long as there is no written policy against it, and no one can present specific, factual evidence of partiality, there is no problem.
My uncle lived to be 90 years old, smoked 3 packs a day, drank at least a fifth a day, dipped snuff and caroused to excess. His secret to a long happy life: HE ALWAYS WOULD MIND HIS OWN BUSINESS.

2015 years 8 months ago

Those of you who say married or single, it’s their business are partially correct. But the real issue is that the highest ranking supervisor in the central officer is dating someone he’s supposed to be supervising. It’s a conflict of interest and creates the potential for favoritism of one employee at the expense of others. It also does speak to both persons’ characters if they didn’t come forward once they acknowledged to themselves that they were in a relationship. Employees in this kind of situation can still behave in an above-board way if they give management, or in this case the board of education, the opportunity to put in some safeguards to make sure that a supervisor is not making recommendations about raises or promotions for someone he’s dating. I’m not a “disgruntled employee.” Never worked for them. I’m just a taxpayer and it interests me if two people on the public’s payroll are putting their personal interests ahead of their public duties.

John Doe Principal
2015 years 8 months ago

To “Not Quite”

You could not have put this any better about our state. I am proud to represent a nearby school as an principal in a different district. I am disgusted that the hard-working and dedicated teachers and para-professionals, as well fellow school leaders are underpaid and underappreciated by the leaders of this state. It is a shame that this negative publicity may lead to further breaking down of what used to give us reasons to be proud of our public schools. I also am sorry that bad choices of certain leaders may sour the taste of all school leaders.

2015 years 8 months ago

I can not believe these people make that much money,now we know where the tax payers dollars go,the teachers are being screwed royally,I know hearing how much these people make really make our hard working teacher happy, teachers that have to have students as well as their own money to bring supplies all during the year,this is pure sicken if I was a teacher especially one with experience,I would be striking in a skinny minute ,let these idiots go teach the class,they are being paid enough,sitting behind a desk making rules and screwing around,all the teachers losing jobs because of money and the seat warmers making all this money,with what one of them make would be 3 teacher jobs ,that is the differences in the pay ,that is crazy.

2015 years 8 months ago

75,000? I know employees of the school system
with master’s degrees required for their employment
who don’t earn this much. Way to put students first!