DeKalb Mimics Atlanta!

Another "Gangsta" School System?

Editor’s Note:

The DeKalb County School System recently named Crawford Lewis, an insider, to take Johnny Brown’s place as Superintendent of Schools. Although Dr. Lewis can come across as a congenial fellow on occasions, it appears now that he might be in over his head. Has he surrounded himself with people who are giving him bad advice? Is he "learning dumber"? He must be learning dumber if he thinks that he’s going to get by with not following the Georgia statute dealing with teacher grievances. The following is a letter that Dr. Trotter recently fired off to Dr. Lewis. We’re sure that more fireworks will be forthcoming.

November 23, 2004

 

VIA U.S. MAIL, FACSIMILE, & INTERNET

Dr. Crawford Lewis
DeKalb County Schools
3770 North Decatur Road
Decatur, Georgia 30032

Dear Crawford:

If you do not abide by the Georgia law relative to processing grievances filed by teachers, then we will use any legal means to embarrass you. I have found that embarrassment is the most effective way to make arrogant, cocky, and I’m-above-the-law type superintendents to adhere to the mandates of the Georgia grievance law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.5 et seq.), and it is by far the most efficient way to get their attention. And, you ought to know by now that MACE does not make idle threats. Try us and see for yourself. In order to initiate the grievance process, the law only states that the teacher must put his or her grievance "in writing" and "state clearly the intent of the employee to access the complaints policy" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.8[1]). The statute further states that the teacher "shall be entitled to an opportunity to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witnesses at each level" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.8[4]). If you would actually take the time to read the law, you will find that there is no mention about impertinent and irascible central office administrators being able to arrogate themselves to the level of a judge and making a ruling on a pleading -- or, just dismissing the grievance out of hand because they don’t think that the grievance is "appropriate." The only caveat in the law deals with filing a complaint concerning evaluations, job performance ratings, professional development plans, or hearings for termination, nonrenwal, demotion, suspension, or reprimand. Actions concerning a teacher’s certificate is also excluded from the grievance process (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.7[a]). Everything else is grievable if the teacher feels that he or she "is affected in his or her employment relationship by an alleged violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of statutes [regardless of how the statutes are written], policies, rules, regulations, or written agreements of the local unit of administration with which the local unit of administration is required to comply" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.6[4]; emphases and annotation added). The administration must at least hear the grievance. The immediate supervisor (at the lowest level) or the hearing officer (at the upper levels) can rule against the teacher in his or her written disposition. But, the administration cannot just whimsically decide that the grievance is not "appropriate" and thereby dismiss it before it is even heard. This type of action would give the administrator the power to simply wave a magical wand to dismiss any complaint which the administration felt was uncomfortable or annoying. Of course, I’m sure that you realize that this is what your jack-leg administration is trying to do. I presume that your current administration is going to be the Johnny Brown II Administration. But, even ole Johnny realized that when a MACE teacher filed a grievance, that MACE teacher was going to be heard. Former superintendent Hallford realized early on that his administration had to honor the grievance process -- but not without first having fierce battles with MACE. We simply won’t stand by idly and allow your administrative goons to decide that they simply are not going to process a grievance. We fought those battles before and we will fight them again, if that is what you want. What you do with a grievance from a teacher affiliated with GAE or PAGE is entirely up to you. I don’t care. But, we will fight like a doberman when it comes to a MACE member having his or her rights violated.

The legislature included the following proviso in the grievance law: "Nothing in this part shall be construed to prevent a local unit of administrator from adopting supplemental rules and policies not inconsistent with this part that grant additional substantive and procedural rights to the complainant with respect to this part" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.9; emphasis added). The only matters that your administration can add to the mandates in the grievance law are the ones "that grant additional substantive and procedural rights" to the teacher filing the grievance. You can’t engage in some type of administrative hocus-pocus which enables the administration to conclude that it doesn’t have to hear the grievance. Your new administrative flunky, Debbie Loeb, communicated to me that Renee Ivey and Stan Pritchard didn’t feel that the grievance warranted a hearing. Quite frankly, I don’t give a rat’s behind what Ivey & Pritchard think, and I don’t want to listen to any more of Loeb’s double-talk. One moment Loeb tells me not to worry about Ivey, that the grievance would definitely be processed. Then, she calls me back a few days later to engage in a 180 degree reversal. Tell her not to waste her time nor my time calling me to engage in double-talk. I don’t waste my time on such blather.

Until now, we have been focussing a lot of our attention on the real "gangsta" system, the Atlanta Public Schools. But, if this latest episode dealing with Mr. Yawn’s grievance against Linda Young is any indication of how your burgeoning administration is going to operate, perhaps we need to camp out some more in the illustrious DeKalb County School System. I was hoping that your administration would be a marked improvement on the nefarious Johnny Brown administration. But, as it now appears, it seems that the more things change, the more they remain the same. We’ll see you soon at a school board meeting, armed with a U. S. Constitution and a video camera, daring you to violate our rights in a Category One Free Speech Forum. It has always been our standard and consistent policy at MACE that once a school system violates the grievance policy and refuses to process a private grievance, then MACE engages in very public pickets. One way or the other, we will be heard.

Sincerely,

John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D.

c. James (Gunny) Yawn, Latin Teacher, King High School
Linda Young, Assistant Principal, King High School
DeKalb County Board of Education Members
Sonny Perdue, Governor
Thurbert Baker, Georgia Attorney General
Kathy Cox, Georgia Superintendent of Schools
Renee Ivey, Administrator, DeKalb County Schools
Stan Pritchard, Administrator, DeKalb County Schools
Debbie Loeb, Administrator, DeKalb County Schools
Donald Rooks, Georgia School Boards Association
Herb Garrett, Georgia School Superintendent Association
Dr. Floyd D. Toth, Professional Standards Commission
Jim Wooten, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Ken Foskett, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jeff Nesmith, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Paul Downsky, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sharon Pitts, Chief of Staff, Atlanta Public Schools
Dorsey Hobson, Staff Attorney, Atlanta Public Schools
Dr. Thelma Mumford-Glover, Atlanta Public Schools
David Brown, MACE Network Attorney
Sheryl D. Freeman, APS Employee Relations
Gary M. Sams, Clayton and DeKalb School Board Attorney
Randy Reece, Human Resources, Fulton
Dr. Barbara Pulliam, Superintendent, Clayton
Jack Warren, Central Office Administrator, Clayton
Michael J. Vanairsdale, Superintendent, Fulton
Dr. Jim Williams, Deputy Superintendent (Ret.), DeKalb County Schools
Kelly A. Sherrill, Cobb and Fulton School Board Attorney
Glenn Brock, Cobb and Fulton School Board Attorney
Joseph J. Redden, Superintendent, Cobb
Harold Barnett, Superintendent, Marietta City
Alvin Wilbanks, Superintendent, Gwinnett
Trudy Sowar, Superintendent, Paulding
Dr. Jesse Bradley, Superintendent, Spalding
Alexander Rainey, Superintendent, Gilmer
Dr. John DeCotis, Superintendent, Fayette
Dr. Jack Parish, Superintendent, Henry
Dr. Charles G. Larke, Superintendent, Richmond
Ruel M. Parker, Superintendent, Rockdale
John Phillips, Superintendent, Muscogee
James E. Humes, II, Muscogee School Board Attorney
Don Cooper, Human Resources, Muscogee
Tony Cook, Superintendent, Whitfield
Sharon Patterson, Superintendent, Bibb
Don Remillard, Superintendent, Douglas
Dr. Dennis Fordham, Superintendent, Hall
Carol Lane, Superintendent, Meriweather
Doug Day, Superintendent, Burke
Danny Carpenter, Superintendent, Houston
John Zauner, Superintendent, Carroll
Samuel Allen, Superintendent, Valdosta City
Thomas Wilson, Superintendent, Carrollton City
Blake Bass, Superintendent, Coweta
Dr. Frank Petruzielo, Superintendent, Cherokee
Dr. Dennis Chamberlain, Superintendent, Lamar
Dr. Florence Reynolds, Superintendent, Hancock
Albert Murray, Commissioner, GA Department of Juvenile JusticeThe TeachersAdvocate.Com

 

 

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