State finds no flaw in AMHS security officer hire

Department of Transportation Commissioner Pat Kemp released a statement yesterday confirming that the proper hiring process was followed when the state selected a new security officer for the Alaska Marine Highway System in May.

The process’ review came at the request of Gov. Sean Parnell after it was reported that the hiree — former Haines police officer Jason Joel — had been accused of sexual harassment on more than one occasion in the past.

“The review included speaking with former employers and references, and confirming that a proper background check was performed using the TSA Transportation Worker Identification Credential,” Kemp said in the released statement. “Upon review, it has been determined the hiring process was in accordance with State of Alaska employee/employer regulations.

“No further action will be necessary for the hiring of this position,” Kemp went on to say.

DOT spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow previously told the Empire that the allegations against Joel were character-based and not related directly to his job the AMHS security officer.

“The department has to use criteria for the position itself not hearsay or public opinion,” Woodrow said, adding that it was unlikely the claims would lead to Joel’s termination — and that the position has technical supervision, but that it does not directly supervise any employees.

Woodrow said the position falls under a category of “classified” state employees and, as such, is afforded certain job securities.

“They’re part of a union and therefore they cant be fired at will,” he said. “There has to be reason or poor performance while they’re employed. It cant be for prior allegations.”

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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