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School board admits hiring mistake

The Medford School District hired a former Houston-area school district administrator who was convicted of a misdemeanor for lying on his resume in spring 2005 to guide a facilities planning committee that crafted a $189 million bond package voters approved last November.

Medford School Board member Mike Moran said the district hired Mike Maloney in spring 2005 from a pool of applicants based on his construction experience in the Beaverton School District.

After learning a month later that Maloney had been convicted in Harris County, Texas, for a Class A misdemeanor of tampering with a government document in March 2005, the district released him from service, paying him for the time spent.

District resident Steve Plunk questioned the board Tuesday after discovering that Maloney had been convicted of the misdemeanor in 2005.

Medford School Board Chairman Larry Nicholson said "I remember that day. I said, 'Oh, my gosh, we've been duped.' Immediately, we terminated the relationship."

Maloney did not shape the bond package presented to voters, Nicholson said.

The district hired architect Ken Ogden to replace Maloney in advising the committee.

Maloney was sentenced in March 2005 to a year of probation with deferred adjudication, community service and a $750 fine for claiming in a 2002 application to the Spring Branch school district in Houston to have a bachelor's and master's degree from a university that does not exist, according to a March 31, 2005 ,Houston Chronicle article.

Nicholson said a background check did not reveal the conviction, and Maloney never mentioned it in interviews.

The Spring Branch school district hired Maloney to be the district's associate superintendent of facilities.

Maloney came to Spring Branch from Beaverton, with former Superintendent Yvonne Katz, the Houston Chronicle reported. She retired from Spring Branch in August amid controversy over her ties to an energy savings firm, the newspaper stated.

A month after Maloney first met with the committee in April 2005 and began touring schools to help identify needs for repairs and construction, former Medford district facilities manager Sam Digati did an Internet search under Maloney's name and found out about the conviction.

Nicholson said Digati was suspicious of Maloney because he asked questions that indicated he knew less about construction than he had claimed.

School district officials have since begun the practice of doing an Internet search under each name of applicants seeking work in the district, Nicholson said.

The school district's planning process for the bond package has been under scrutiny since Superintendent Phil Long recently announced a project at North Medford High will be scaled down because cost estimates for construction appear to fall short of what architects are projecting.

District officials have downplayed the proposed changes to projects outlined in the bond package, saying all the schools will receive what was promised in the bond measure.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.