Governor Tim Corbett has nominated Carolyn Dumaresq to head the state education department. Carolyn led the national search team that helped steer the Allentown School Board to choose Gerald Zahorchak as its superintendent in 2010.

Governor Tom CorbetThe catch & the controversies

No reference was found about Carolyn Dumaresq’s employment with the search company, McPherson & Jacobson of Omaha, Neb., on her annual financial disclosure statements with the state Ethics Commission.

Carolyn Dumaresq had failed to list the company as an outside source of income. It is not on the 2009 financial disclosure statement she filed as a member of the state Workforce Investment Board. Nor did she list it on her 2010 statement as an investment board member or a separate one she filed that same year when Corbett named her acting deputy education secretary when he took office.

Gerald Zahorchak’s tenure as superintendent in Allentown was highly controversial. It lasted a little more than a year. It was swamped by waves of protests over his removal of principals, massive teacher layoffs, a community outcry over his curriculum overhaul and internal strife over his leadership style.

When Zahorchak and the board parted ways in August 2011, he was given a $250,000 buyout package, which called for him to work from home as a district adviser until he landed another job, which he did as superintendent of the school district in Johnstown, his hometown.

On her part, Carolyn Dumaresq, who helped Allentown choose controversial leader, admitted that she made ‘honest mistake.’

It is interesting to note thatCorbett gave his first education secretary, Ron Tomalis, a similar buyout package, allowing him to keep his $139,931 salary while working from home as the governor’s higher-education adviser. Another relevant point is that it is the same salary Tomalis’ replacement, William Harner, was scheduled to make until Corbett fired him Monday after 87 days on the job — and before a confirmation vote in the Senate.

A background check on Harner found he had sent a suggestive email to an employee while superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District, which led Corbett to dismiss him, sources told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Reactions & defenses

Education Department spokesman Tim Eller said the omissions were honest mistakes Dumaresq has already fixed. He observed, “It was an oversight on her part, not intentional, but an honest mistake,” Eller said. “She has already submitted amended filings for 2009 and 2010.”

Tailpiece

It is expected that this will lead to protests and demonstrations for an enquiry to be conducted until the probe brings out clearly the happenings behind the sort of ‘paid holiday’ jobs for some controversial personalities and also to confirm whether it really was an oversight on the part of Carolyn Dumaresq. The education watchers are agog with excitement and interest to watch the further developments.