Interim Schools Superintendent Albert Thompson said Tuesday that so far he cannot find a Civil Service job description for the controversial position of executive assistant, recently filled by James M. Kane.
The School Board's appointment of Kane to the $64,546-a-year-job set off a furor with allegations of political cronyism.
Kane is a friend and business partner of James W. Comerford Jr., Park District board member, who suggested his name. Thompson considered no other candidate.
The appointment has been challenged by Victor J. Turchiarelli, the West District board member, who this week asked Thompson to request at today's board meeting that Kane's appointment be rescinded.
Turchiarelli said he checked with the state Education Department, and Kane does not meet state educational requirements for school administrators.
Thompson's search for the job description followed Turchiarelli's challenge to Kane's qualifications.
"I am having great difficulty in finding a job description that went to Civil Service," Thompson said. "I called the Civil Service Commission asking for a job description, and they told me there was none."
Sharon Comerford, administrative director of the city Civil Service Commission and cousin of James W. Comerford Jr., did not answer a telephone call from The Buffalo News.
Board President David B. Kelly said he is confident that Kane has all necessary qualifications.
"There is no Civil Service test because he serves at the pleasure of the superintendent," Kelly said.
James W. Burns, whose retirement in October opened the position, said Tuesday that before he took the job in 1982, it always was held by administrators with professional educational accreditation.
Burns, hired by former Superintendent Eugene T. Reville, said he suggested a change in the job specifications because he did not believe the assistant should be a member of the supervisory union or a subject of collective bargaining. He said he and Reville sought the change together.
"The Civil Service Commission agreed to designate it as exempt," Burns recalled.
Burns said job specifications were presented to and accepted by the Board of Education in 1983.
During his tenure, Burns said, he was designated as the schools' communicative link with city, county and state governments.
"My principal task each year was to develop a legislative program for Albany and Washington," he said.
Thompson, who said Kane is acceptable to him, recommended filling the executive assistant position to avoid the appointment of a comptroller who would handle all School Board money and answer only to the board.
Thompson said Tuesday that he would search board minutes for the Burns job specifications.
William Assinni, state superintendent of certification, verified Tuesday that he spoke to Turchiarelli. "Somebody should send us a description of what this person does," Assinni said.
Kane graduated from Canisius College, where he majored in accounting, in 1978. He was comptroller and office manager of Jim Doyle Ford, working for his uncle Jim Doyle, from 1978 to 1983, when he and Doyle became partners in Kane-Doyle Motors. From 1983 until last September, he was president of Kane-Doyle.