erik herbert.jpg

Erik Herbert

The Niagara Falls School District has been “prevented” from filling a $70,000 position in its human resource office, a letter sent to candidates for the position stated.

The letter dated Jan. 13 and signed by Administrator for Human Resources Phil Mohr informed those individuals who applied for the position of personnel manager, which was vacated following the retirement of Barbara Joyce earlier this year, that the position would not be filled.

“The position has not been filled, nor do I foresee a recommendation being made to the board of education for the position in the near future,” Mohr wrote. “While the candidate pool presented to the interview team consisted of quality professionals, other reasons have prevented us from filling the position at this time.”

The open position was posted on the Niagara Falls School District’s website on Sept. 13, the same day the district posted the vacant position for the administrator for human resources position.

The district changed the qualifications for the $120,000 position and swiftly tapped Maria Massaro, daughter of school district attorney Angelo Massaro, to the post on Oct. 28.

The letter from Mohr did not indicate what the “other reasons” are for not filing the position and a phone call to Maria Massaro, acting administrator for Human Resources, did not shed any light on the matter.

“The issue will be discussed with the board of education Thursday,” she said referring to the upcoming school board meeting.

A candidate for the position, who contacted the Gazette regarding the letter, said she was interviewed for the position and no indication was made that the position would not be filled.

School board President Russell Petrozzi said the letters were sent in order for the human resource office to re-evaluate its operations and ensure the position is necessary going forward.

“We are going to look and see if there is going to be a reorganization in the office,” he said. “With all the changes happening in that department, we felt like now was a good time to take a good look.”

When asked if the withdrawal of the position had anything to do with the scrutiny and public backlash following the hiring of Massaro, Petrozzi said “absolutely not” and said that issue is being left up to the commissioner of education and the district will continue to carry on its usual day-to-day business.

At a Dec. 14 board meeting, Joyce received a 30-day contract being paid a $279-a-day stipend for “training purposes.” After her retirement, she was hired to a similar deal.

Petrozzi said she doesn’t work every day so the length of that contract is 30 working days.

The Niagara Falls Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Administration Building, 630 66th St.

Contact reporter Nick Mattera at 282-2311, ext. 2251.

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