HARVARD — The contract between the town and the Massachusetts Coalition of Police Local 202 from 2006 to 2009 called for promotions to be made by the selectmen upon recommendation of the police chief. Harvard is not a civil-service town, meaning that hiring, promotion processes and appeals rest at the local level and are not overseen by the state Civil Service Commission.

At Police Chief Edward Denmark’s request, the selectmen approved the creation of a second sergeant position in June 2007. At that time, Denmark outlined his preferred two-phase process to fill the post.

The first phase of the process was a written test, open to all applicants, requiring at least a 75 percent score in order to advance. The test, prepared by the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, was to “assess the qualifications of candidates for first-line supervisor positions,” according to Denmark. Administered in September 2007, the test results revealed that only Patrolmen William Castro, with an 85 percent score, and James Babu, with a 76 percent score, would advance to the next step

Phase Two included an “assessment center” process to evaluate the candidates’ communication and problem-solving skills to a videotaped set of simulated ‘day in the life’ situations. A handpicked assessment team of Denmark’s professional colleagues would have “no ties to the town or the department,” according to the selectmen’s June 5, 2007 meeting minutes. The selectmen unanimously approved Denmark’s selection process.

Denmark told the Harvard Hillside last week his no-ties-to-town statement was misconstrued by the arbiter hired to evaluate the process. Denmark said he always intended to have “subject matter experts” like Sgt. James Coates evaluate the candidates. “But the union’s attorney made an issue of it and obviously it swayed the arbitrator’s opinion.”

The arbiter decided in March that Denmark’s decision making process was flawed, partly because of Coates’ presence on the evaluation panel. Coates was Castro’s superior in the department, and, according to Castro, there was animosity between the two.

In addition to Coates, others serving on Denmark’s February 2008 screening panel were then-selectman Lucy Wallace, former Ayer Police Chief Richard Rizzo, Harvard Fire Chief Robert Mignard, and Worcester Police Lt. Richard Bates. In March 2008, Denmark recommended hiring Babu, who, in the end, following “corrected” scoring edged Castro by a tenth of a point. Babu scored 71.823, while Castro scored 71.701 overall.

Denmark advocated for Babu despite the fact that Castro actually had more time on the force than Babu, by more than a year.

“The 15-month advantage is not significant enough for me to disregard the results of the process,” Denmark said.

Castro has 17 years policing experience between Harvard and a job in Vermont. He was a full-time policeman in St. Johnsbury, Vt. from 1980-1982 and worked full time on the Harvard force from 1982 to 1997. In 1997, Castro took a five-year break from full-time police work but stayed on as a part-time officer while attending the Massachusetts School of Law and practicing estate planning locally until September 2001.

Denmark did not factor in Castro’s total experience when making the promotion decision.

Chief William Chase rehired Castro in May 2002. Since then, Castro has served as an adjunct professor of forensic science at Becker College. While still a patrolman, Castor also served as Harvard’s acting police chief in 1993.

But Denmark advised the Selectmen to disregard all of Castro’s added time in service.

In his March decision, the arbiter noted that Denmark had the idea that “any experience beyond five years is not a valid predictor of future supervisory success.” As evidence of this, Denmark noted that Castro ranked second to Babu in the promotional process.

“For seniority purposes, the clock didn’t start ticking again till (Castro) came back” in 2002, Denmark said.

Within weeks of the promotion announcement, Castro filed a grievance to Denmark, which Denmark denied. A September 2008 appeal to the selectmen was also denied. In October 2008, Castro demanded arbitration. The arbiter’s decision was made on March 8, and the two sides were encouraged to come to an agreement to compensate Castro.

No such remedy, whether in the form of a promotion or for back pay equal to the rank’s salary, has been made.