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Allegation of superintendent's affair spurs petition

Parents, public ask for action by Corbett's School Board


Corbett’s revered schools superintendent is deflecting questions about an affair he allegedly had with a subordinate, prompting a petition demanding a public comment from the school board.

Concerns about allegations of impropriety between Randy Trani and the district employee were raised Wednesday, Oct. 16, by Karina Lande, a Corbett parent and former school board candidate.

Her petition to the Corbett School Board lays out her concerns.

Randy Trani"I feel to not deal with this issue only creates more distrust,” Lande wrote. “I would like to ask those that will to stand with me and demand an official public statement from our school board regarding this situation.”

As of press time Thursday, Oct. 17, the online petition had received 33 signatures with 11 comments.

In response to the petition, Nancy J. Hungerford, an attorney representing the district, called the allegations a “confidential personnel matter that board members are not authorized to discuss with members of the public.”

“As in all personnel matters, I (or other members of our firm) have communicated regularly with responsible district authorities, including the board chairman, to guide the actions of the district,” Hungerford said. “Based on those interactions, I can assure you that the district board’s actions have been such as to protect the district and assure compliance with district policy and all legal requirements.”

Board Chairman Charlie O’Neil declined to comment on the allegations of an affair between Trani and a subordinate, stating that personnel matters are confidential.

He said he would tell concerned families in the district that as with any personnel issue, the public “can be assured the school board is looking into it and will take the proper steps dictated to it by a district attorney.”

“Employees have rights and deserve to have privacy protected when it’s called for,” O’Neil said.

Still, parents and community members express concerns, especially since there are no plans to hold a school board executive session to determine how to proceed.

“I haven’t seen any executive decisions — that’s my concern,” Lande said. “What position does this put our school district in? … How does this impact our school district and its liability?”

The subordinate employee allegedly involved in the affair began working for Corbett in 2011. Trani said the employee “was reassigned this school year commensurate with school practices.”

“This was not a promotion and there was no pay raise associated with this reassignment,” Trani said.

Parents drew a comparison of the allegations to the high profile ethical dilemma the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners faced in July when the board’s chairman, Jeff Cogen, admitted to having an extramarital affair with a county employee, Sonia Manhas.

Cogen stepped down in September after commissioners encouraged him to resign and gave him a no confidence vote, while Manhas resigned under pressure July 24.

The Oregon Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether Cogen used county resources amid the affair. Manhas was promoted during the affair and listed Cogen as one of her references.

“This needs to come full circle and be dealt with,” said Kathryn Green, a district parent. “If the rumors are true, I think that’s a whole other can of worms that needs to be dealt with. Otherwise we’ll be left open as a district to all sorts of problems and issues. I am hoping we can put this to bed, so to speak."

Oregon School Boards Association was contacted for this story but declined to comment.




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