Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black Friday/Funding Public Education/Firing a State Worker

Don’t forget to wear black on Friday. Spread the word with this flier.

The focus of the General Assembly is shifting to the budget. VEA, PTA, VML and VACO held a press conference today calling on the legislators to make public education a priority as they develop the biennial budget. Click here to see the remarks of PTA President Ann Carson and VEA President Kitty Boitnott.

Click here to send a letter to your Senator and Delegate urging increased funding for our schools.

I have the greatest respect for Dr. Pat Wright, our Superintendent of Public Instruction, but I have been deeply disappointed by her support for HB 576. I have indicated before in this blog that teachers and principals are singled out in this bill.

Let’s look at the dismissal process for the folks that work for Dr. Wright at the Department of Education and all other state workers:

State employee can grieve termination under expedited procedure. The grieving employee files written grievance with designated Senior Agency Manager. If the matter is not resolved the Agency requests appointment of a hearing officer from Department of Employment Dispute Resolution. The hearing officer is an experienced qualified attorney chosen through a competitive selection process in accordance with state statute. The hearing officer has authority to order reinstatement and attorneys fees in grievances challenging discharge.

The Department of Employment Dispute Resolution advises here that issues including formal discipline or dismissal for unsatisfactory performance are automatically qualified for hearing under the grievance procedure. Section 4.1(a) of the Grievance Procedure. A grievance regarding arbitrary performance evaluation MAY qualify for hearing under Section 4.1(b) of the Procedure.

This Flyer Flyer (Form EDR 11/06 A) from the Department of Employment Dispute Resolution summarizes the Grievance Procedure

So, the teacher gets a hearing before a panel, and the school board makes the final decision. But, the state employees get a hearing before an officer with the authority to reinstate them. Now they want to take even that level of due process from teachers and principals. At the end of the three year term contract in HB 576, teachers and principals get no hearing – they don’t even have to get a reason as to why they are being fired. Why should teachers and principals be treated in such an inequitable manner?