Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where you at? (After the dust has settled.)

As most, if not all, of the readers of this blog know, the contract dispute which spawned this blog has ended. A new three-year contract has been ratified.

The settlement that was finally agreed upon was almost surrealistic in its simplicity and fairness. It was a settlement that was overwhelmingly accepted by the teachers' union. (It also benefited other bargaining units who got similar offers.)

Had this offer been made earlier in the process... then it is likely that most of the difficulties that followed would have been avoided. But then, this dispute was simply part of a larger conflict.

My connect-the-dots conclusions?

1) The District unnecessarily wasted a lot of time, money, and goodwill in its fight to negotiate a new contract.
2) The District's lack of transparency, honesty, and care for its employees was unveiled. (The lip-service never stopped, but actions speak louder than words.)
3) The School Board's complacency in challenging "facts" and "findings" supplied by the Superintendent's office has been long-standing, and it has contributed to a lack of fairness and balance in District decisions. This complacency is also evidenced in the Board's general lack of seeking input both privately and publicly from other stakeholders in the District.

My connect-the-dots hopes for on-going improvements?

1) Voters have infused some new blood (and hopefully accountability) into an anemically performing Board via the election process.
2) Board members are beginning to ask a few meaningful questions, and/or calling for a delay in making decisions until they become better informed.
3) District employees are more on their guard regarding the District Office's oversight.

My connect-the-dots wait-and-see concerns?

1) Will the School Board evolve into a more informed, independent body that regulates the Superintendent, instead of vice-versa?
2) Will the voters and families of Lowell Joint continue to press for honesty, transparency, and change?

Although the contract disputed spawned this blog, that dispute was simply the tip of the iceberg. That dispute brought a sharper focus to what problems the District faces as it moves into the future. The problems are not chiefly economic: it's not the economy...

A telling feature in the new contract is the lack of "new" language that the Superintendent was seeking to add on many issues.

Why is it not there?

After the main economic disagreements were resolved, the union negotiators said something to this effect, "You want to change language? So do we!"

Given that prospect (and the changing political climate), the Superintendent dropped the call for "new" (and controlling) changes she had been seeking. By this time in the process, there was much more pressure from the Board and Public to settle the dispute.

One on-going concern?

The iceberg isn't gone.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hypocrisy Masquerading as Honesty

More than 70 teachers, staff, and community members attended the October 18th Board Meeting. As members exited the closed session at 7:30, they were greeted by 70 plus chanting, picket carrying, unhappy employees who lined corridor leading to the multi-use where the meeting was held. Again, the Board chose not to reorder the agenda, making the teachers wait over an hour to arrive at the public portion (Items not on the Agenda), where five speakers had signed up to speak. Five times three minutes: 15 minutes... relegated to the meetings end... because employee and community input is not valued; although, the Board pretends it is. Here are the notes I spoke from:

Hi, it's me again.
The last Board meeting began with a resolution for Character Education month.
Mrs. Averill felt that honesty needed to promoted. And it was.
How nice.
But after all, this is Lowell Joint where honesty is valued?
Or is it?

Hypocrisy is the act of pretending to have beliefs and virtues that one does not actually have.
Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie. (Wiki-pedia)

After welcoming the public and presidents at the last meeting...
You proceeded to cut short one of the public speakers; although there were only two.
I thought you said we were welcome?
Perhaps you meant to say,
"You're welcome just as long as you sit and play nice. Be seen, but not heard... the grown-ups are talking."

And who was it you gaveled? Your own Teacher of the Year.
She's the best of the best... and you can only give her three minutes?

Maybe that's not too surprising, since not long ago you did the same thing to the president of the CSEA.
That too smacks of hypocrisy.

You pretend to welcome us, but you are unwilling to listen to us.
You might protest, but I simply point to the minutes from the last meeting...
There was a slight change in language...
"…public opinion will be limited to 1/2 hour…”
Not satisfied with a three-minute per person cap... someone suggested to the board that a 30 minute cap was a good idea.
Just in case?
The previous language was good enough for decades... but no longer.

Recently CSEA voted against an offer made in negotiations.
One member was appalled at how much language had changed.
Language that had little or nothing to do with a salary schedule or compensation.
Why was it changed?
Just in case?
The previous language was good enough for decades... but no longer.

A recent newspaper article quoted the Superintendent as saying, "We know how the teachers feel..."

We are skeptical of your language changes... we feel repeatedly hoodwinked.

Little language changes... buried in the notes... or contract... or where else?
We feel lied to.
And you should understand.
What other posturing has been done in the contract, in the minutes, behind closed doors, etc.?
I feel manipulated!
And you should understand why.

 You say you value and appreciate teachers,

But you install language to limit our voice (per person),
and you install language to limit our voice collectively (30 minutes).
If this is how you treat us in public...
should we expect that you'd treat us any differently at a negotiating table?

November is coming, and with it some new board members.
Hopefully, they will bring with them a new era in Lowell Joint characterized by genuine honesty.
We're tired of hypocrisy masquerading as honesty.
We're tired of manipulation masquerading as transparency.
But then... you know how we feel.
And, you know why.

Before and after the meeting I spoke with several parents, candidates, fellow staff members, and even the two presenters from LACOE. November is coming... 

Will there be an October miracle? A fair contract? Let's hope so.

Regardless of the contract issues, the voters of Lowell Joint finally have some choice for new blood, new representation, new behaviors, and a new future. The issues of Lowell Joint run deeper than contract negotiations, but then... November is coming...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A (open) letter to the Board: K. Daniel (9/27/2010)

Each of the board members acknowledged the receipt of 18 to 20 e-mails at the last board meeting. A fellow teacher on my campus shared hers with me as well, and with her permission, I share it here:

September 27, 2010

Dear Board Members:

In the first unit of the 6th grade Lit book the Big Question is" HOW DO WE DECIDE WHAT IS TRUE"  Students are taught to confirm, determine, examine evidence, test and investigate to determine what is true.

In chapter 8 lesson 9 of the math text the title is Misleading Statistics.  Students learn to identify biased displays and misleading statistics.

HOW DO WE DECIDE WHAT IS TRUE?  That is the same question I'm asking of you now.  

How do you explain an average third year projection that is 540% off?    How do you reconcile the enrollment numbers?  We know exactly how many students are filling the seats of our classrooms. Do you?

We have an 18% reserve, far more than needed.  And finally, the Job's bill is coming.

All these facts can be checked and verified as being true. It is wrong to lie to us or at the very least "Handle the truth recklessly", as my mom would say.

At times it seems that you forget or lose sight of the fact that you are dealing with educated, intelligent and articulate people.  How is it that the students of Lowell Joint became "Distinguished"?

It is your responsibility to check and verify the facts , as we have done,  Stop taking Dr. Howell at her word.  She doesn't tell the truth. She is building an enormous reserve on the backs of dedicated teachers.  This will not stand.

Thank you for reading this letter.

Kari Daniel

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What do I dream of?

At last night's Board meeting (10/4/10), I took advantage of the opportunity to direct my remarks to those seeking the office of School Board Member since many candidates were in attendance. After the meeting, I was able to converse with several of them. Here is a copy of my speech:

I dream of…

Of a time when teacher input is respected and regarded at board meetings, not relegated to the end of the meeting and restricted by a timer.

Of a time teachers can concentrate on teaching and not contract negotiations.

I dream of Monday Night Football instead of Monday Night Board meetings, because I can trust that those who ran for office are providing the public service they promised.

I dream of…

Of a time when Board Members voice an opinion instead of a party line.

Of a time when Board members can give an informed personal report on the school they represent because they’ve talked with parents, teachers, students, and staff, in addition to remarks prepared by the site principals.

Of a time when Board members understand that Distinguished School Awards have more to do with an experienced teacher’s practice and sacrifice than with a Superintendent's ambition and mandate.

Of a time when the Lowell Joint Board Members begin a Superintendent replacement search, instead of rewarding an unpopular incumbent with a long and luxurious contract extension.

I dream of…

Of a time when the District Office is once again considered a resource and service center instead of a source of requirements, restrictions, and obstructions.

Of a time when the Superintendent is more likely to cut her own luxurious car allowance rather than cutting the noon duty aides salary by 26% to a near minimum wage level.

I dream of when Lowell Joint's Superintendent and Board are not blaming the budget crisis, but are rising to present challenges with inspired leadership, innovation, and fairness.

I dream of…

Parents who are well-informed enough about who will best represent their neighborhoods on the School Board and get out to the polls to make that a reality.

Of a time when new blood on the Board is common and business as usual is a thing of the past.

Board Members and Board Candidates...

What do you dream of?

I dream that some of you will make some of my dreams come true.

Thank you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Root Cause of Many Problems...

Below is the text of a speech I gave at the school board meeting tonight. Several others also spoke to various issues revolving around the current contract negotiations and the lack of progress.

Before I became a Special Education teacher, I spent a decade or so as a Systems Engineer. I even got training in solving organizational problems using a method called Theory of Constraints.

This last Sunday I used my training in Theory of Constraints to analyze several recent conflicts in the District. I was looking for commonalities that might inform me regarding the current contract negotiations conflict.

Here’s what I determined via the analysis:

High level decisions must be made by the Superintendent, such as teacher selection, teacher discipline, and fair resource distribution. The expectation is that the decisions will be fair and equitable. The expectation is that the superintendent’s decisions will be legal, impartial, and agenda-free. Those decisions should be unbiased, fair, without malice, and consistent. In a nutshell, those decisions need to be trustworthy or worthy of trust.

The common, underlying conflict beneath the three scenarios I examined was this: the current superintendent's decisions are not always trustworthy. They were less than impartial, not always legal, sometimes biased and sometimes unfair. The decisions were only reversed after they were persistently challenged by a teacher or a group of parents. The decisions were only changed when a judge, the law, or a vocal group of parents forced the change.

How can this generalized analysis assist in the current conflicts including the current contract negotiations?

We cannot sit idly by and trust what the superintendent says. She has demonstrated repeatedly that she does not deserve that trust. Perhaps some combination of inexperience and lack of expertise may have hampered her, but she is also hampered by apparent personal ambition, a drive to win-at-any-cost, and a leadership style that is not inspirational, but confrontational.

Her behaviors in contract negotiations are simply another instance of her dysfunctional leadership. 

Dr. Howell has retreated from erroneous positions only when others stand up to her, present the facts, and allow impartial arbitrators review those facts. The contract negotiations are heading into fact finding. Perhaps the truth will come out, and she will retreat.

My message is this: we have got to stop trusting Dr. Howell, especially in the area of personnel issues. The contract is ultimately a personnel issue. We need to question her, double-check her facts and logic. We cannot afford  passive acceptance of her half-truths.

The scenarios I examined demonstrate that Dr. Howell is untrustworthy. She is unyielding in her decisions until a higher authority censures her. Her inexperience and lack of knowledge might be forgivable if it were mixed appropriately with honesty, forthrightness, and humility, but it is not. 

We must become vigilant and vocal, so that we can override the erroneous recommendations and decisions that are being made by the current superintendent.

I am here tonight to raise my voice against the erroneous recommendations that the superintendent is bull-headedly offering as a pretense for negotiating a fair contract.

I see a pattern of misinformation and abuse: do you?

Thank you for listening.

(Thank you for reading!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A New School Year: A Kite in the Wind...

A kite in the wind… that’s my personal metaphor for the new school year.

You might ask, “How’s that working for you, Don?”

And I might answer with a sigh.

I see the wind: the superintendent continues her “spinning” ways, for example… at the “Welcome Back” BBQ she mentioned that if the current budget crisis continues, we could end up with a state appointed administrator who would cost the district $150,000!

I did the math. At a board meeting last year, the Los Angeles budget guru gave the formulae for the cost of a state appointed administrator: 80% of the district’s superintendent’s salary.

$165,000 x 80% is $132,000 not $150,000.  Simple math, simple fact, and simply not $150,000.

It made me think: If that simple number is being erroneously presented as fact, what other numbers are?

(What new “dots” have shown up on your radar?) The wind continues to blow.

Here’s another dot on my radar:

The state rejects our district’s budget and tells us to refigure it without the COLA. The district recalculates the budget and the only thing they do is take out the COLA… it still gets rejected. Of course it does! But now the district can say, “We tried twice!”

 (The second try was not a try, it was a ruse!) At least that’s what it looks like to me… up in the sky… trying to maintain a kite-like perspective.

Is the district administration so bereft of ideas that all they can do is continue to blame the economy and the teachers’ union? (And misrepresent fiction as fact!)

Here’s an idea:

Have the superintendent take a “temporary” pay cut to $50,000 a year. Not only would that demonstrate her commitment to share the economic pain, but it might make it difficult to find someone willing to work for 80% of $50,000 which is… see if you can do the math!

(Or… take a cut to $1 a year… it’s been done before… who would take the job for 80 cents?)

The only problem with this scenario is that, unlike the temporary pay cut that the teachers took, I doubt if the superintendent would be willing to make it permanent, like she’s asking the teachers to do.

Another “aha” moment for me: I suspected the Memorandum of Understanding which made the last two years of temporary cuts temporary would mean that my pay would be reinstated with a restored step and column. The district would never say so, but that’s just what happened.

Of course teachers are being warned not to spend their reinstated salary increases, because a new contract will probably be negotiated that involves retroactive pay cuts to the beginning of this school year. (Actually, the pay cuts will be retroactive for two years… because what was promised to be temporary will become permanent… in violation of the MOU.)

Forthrightness, honesty, clarity… too much to ask? No.

Too much to expect? Yes, as long as the School Board continues to allow this wind to blow unchecked.

In the mean time…. Class sizes are up, budgets are down, and teachers are being asked to do more with less… with more less to come.

Good kite flying weather.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Adapt and Thrive! (Some personal dots.)

Recently I read and reviewed a novel by Gerald Weinberg. Jerry is an author whose books have helped me over the years. In doing research for the book review, I reread several of my own blog entries that have helped me gain perspective regarding the current negotiating crisis.

I call it a crisis because it matters to me: it's personal. It's about trust, fairness, honesty, and leadership. Those things matter to me. I am that guy. Things bother me and I muse. I try not to obsess, but I do percolate.

So I was happy to find several posts that helped me get a personal grip on the crisis-de-jour.

The first post I found was called Let Kindness Rule! 

Here's an excerpt: 

All relationships involve a certain amount of patient endurance with the foibles of another; however, some relationships require larger amounts. Those cultures strongly influenced by Christianity acknowledge love and patience as virtues. We acknowledge that love should suffer long: and we try. But…

But we often overlook or fail on the other component of the advice offered in this New Testament proverb: Love suffers long, and is kind. 

What? I’m called to suffer long AND be kind! Ahhhh… there’s the rub: Kindness. While I am being loving and patient (suffering long), I am to do it with kindness. Kindness means no meanness, no sarcasm, no nagging, no belittling, no digs, etc. 

Hmmm… Anybody think that there would be fewer people problems among our friends, family, and community if we practiced this simple axiom: Love suffers long, and is kind?

Let kindness rule!

* * * * *

When I am faced with perceived unkindness, injustice, untruth, and insensitivity I want to get payback. That's my knee-jerk tendency. But after hitting the "pause" button, I am reminded of my core values and aspirations. If I go with knee-jerk, I must might end up being simply a jerk. That's not my aim.

Jerry, in responding to my Let Kindness Rule! post said this, "And people should remember, kindness costs you nothing. Meanness costs you a lot." 

As I begin my school year, with negotiations on-going, I am going to let kindness rule. I'm not sure exactly what that will look like, but I am resolved. (The current negotiations are only a symptom of a larger problem. Perhaps  the November elections will help remedy that problem... perhaps not.)

* * * * *

The second post I found was called Adapt or Die! 

Here are a few of the salient points: 

Changes at work made me want to take up arms, so I cleverly began to read a chapter called “Gaining Control Over Change” from my Secrets of Consulting book by Gerald M. Weinberg.
I expected to get some good advice on how to get people to see things my way, instead Jerry informed me that the best way get changed is to resist change. His answer to managing change was to embrace it.
Another name for embracing change is adaptation. Jerry points out that some organisms adapt in order to survive an increasingly hostile environment. This is also called evolution. Hmmm…
I can manage change by embracing change in an adaptive manner.(Or I can become a dinosaur. And perhaps extinct.)

Those who resist change often begin to act in ways that make them change a lot. Rats. That’s what I’m trying to avoid: big change.

Jerry’s advice on embracing small change in order to survive was comforting. It wasn’t the answer I wanted, but it was one I needed.

That’s why I went to Jerry’s book. He knows stuff. 

* * * * *

I like who I've become... and I don't want to change into something I'm not by reacting to the bad behavior of another.  Things in Lowell Joint's teacher/management interactions have devolved -- they've changed.  "Jerry informed me that the best way get changed is to resist change."

 As the new school year begins, I intend to "...manage change by embracing change in an adaptive manner."  

I'm not sure what that will look like, but at least I know what I'm trying to accomplish: positive adaptation. 

* * * * *

The final post that helped me in my thinking was called The Problem of Apparent Irrationality.

Here are some portions of that post: a rational and reasonable man, my mind has a difficult time following unreasonable orders/dictates/policies. ...

Perhaps you’ve had such bouts with unreasonableness that interferes with a good night’s sleep? But what’s a person to do?

Me? I visited an old friend and mentor: Gerald Weinberg. Now, in reality, I’ve never met "Jerry." In fact, until yesterday, I called him "Gerald." But I do own three of his books, which I’ve read multiple times. He’s a “friend” I sometimes visit when I wrestling with a difficult problem. He’s always there for me, and he makes good sense. He helps me. ;-)

As I read the preface, I was rewarded with a re-framing of my ... problem. I read the following account of Jerry’s approach to dealing with a major challenge of the consulting business:

“Most of the time, though, I enjoyed the direct interaction with my clients, if I could stand the irrationality. If I wanted to stay in the business, it seemed to me I had two choices:

1. Remain rational, and go crazy.
2. Become irrational, and be called crazy.

For many years, I oscillated between these poles of misery, until I hit upon a third approach:

3. Become rational about irrationality.

This book relates some of my discoveries about the rationality of seemingly irrational behavior that surrounds requests for influence. These are the secrets of consulting.”

Since I was currently going somewhat crazy, I recognized that my problem was really 
a problem of apparent irrationality. Once I could name the problem, I was partially relieved, because the correct naming of the problem is often the first step in finding a suitable solution: Become rational about irrationality.

A songwriter once said, “I may not have the answer, but I believe I have a plan…” I don’t even have a plan yet, but at least I know what the problem is.

* * * * *

Becoming rational about irrationality. It can keep you from going crazy. Or waking up in the middle of the night. 

The thinking reflected in this post has helped me sleep better at night and to look with greater hope towards the coming school year. 

What is my intention for the coming year? Adapt and Thrive! (It turns out, that is an option.)

My teacher-in-another-district friend has this quote on his FaceBook profile: "Kites rise highest against the wind -- not with it."

There may be an ill wind blowing, but I don't have to be driven along by it. I can be like the kite and rise up. 

So can you. 

The District Belongs to the Voters

I have a lot of bosses. On teacher appreciation day, the District usually makes a visit to each classroom to extend a "Thank you" to the teacher.

After they leave my room, I usually explain to my students who they were, "Mrs. Likert is my boss, and Dr. Howell is her boss, and the Board Member is one of Dr. Howell's bosses."

There is a chain-of-command in most organizations. What makes a School District somewhat unique is that ultimately the "boss" is the voting public. (In a business, the owner/stockholders are the final bosses.)

Happily, eight residents of the Lowell Joint District have filed to run for the open positions on the Lowell Joint School Board. I'm happy about that.

The Whittier Daily News posted an article that lists the candidates:

Eight candidates, including incumbent Darin Barber, have filed for three open board seats at the 3,000-student Lowell Joint School District.

Half of the candidates hail from Los Angeles County and half live in Orange County, as the district serves students in both counties.

In addition to Barber, who was initially appointed to the Lowell Joint board in 2003, the challengers in the Nov. 2 election are:

Doug Cox of La Habra, a programs manager and parent;
Kevin M. De Mera of La Habra Heights, a businessman and parent;
Gene N. Dunford of Whittier, former Lowell Joint trustee and commercial banker;
William (Bill) Hinz of La Habra Heights, educator and business owner;
Patrick G. Rockenbach of Whittier, process manager and parent;
Melissa A. Salinas of La Habra, local businesswoman and parent; and
Anastasia Shackelford of La Habra, math teacher.

"I know most of them, and this is a good field of candidates," said Barber, 41, of La Habra, who is an attorney and former school teacher.

Read more:Eight join race for three open Lowell Joint school board seats - Whittier Daily News

The Long Beach Press Telegram published a good summary article  here.

I'm happy that so many have stepped forward to become informed and involved. One of my favorite sayings is this: "To criticize is easy -- to do better may be difficult." A tip-of-the-hat to those who have stepped forward to be considered for public service. 

Mr. DeMera was present at the demonstration held by concerned teachers, parents, and students at the early summer negotiation at the District office. He was there to listen. I appreciated that.

Mr. Rockenback has a web-site where he posted this:

We need to work closely with the dedicated group of teachers that have already helped the district to consistently improve its API scores over the past few years. It is evident from the recent interactions between the teachers and the board that there is a lack of trust and this must be addressed before we can all move forward.

The good news is that there are eight people interested in taking on the challenge. The better news is that we don't have to pick just one person as there are three openings on the board. This is a perfect opportunity to build a new board with diverse experiences and differing opinions on the direction for the future.

Over the next few months I will be sharing my vision for the future and I hope to earn one of your three votes on November 2nd.

Current negotiations aren't going well, but perhaps that will change after the November election. 

Bosses have bosses, and ultimately, the future of the District lies in the hands of its voters -- the true bosses.

Go Lowell Joint! Go voters! (Lowell Joint needs you to stand up and be counted.)

You call that bargaining?

Many Lowell Joint Staff showed up in support of their negotiating team at the beginning of summer. We wanted the appointed Mediator to know that LJSD teachers were very concerned about the negotiations. Our presence was felt and appreciated by our negotiating team, heard by the Moderator, and apparently ignored by the Superintendent and her "negotiating" team.

According to a letter published to teacher union members, the District continued to move in the wrong direction.

My wife is from New York. One morning her and a neighbor were out for a morning exercise walk before work. Passing a fellow walker, my wife said, "Good morning!"

He said, "You call that walking?"

After hearing about the results of the negotiating sessions, I was left with the same sinking feeling: District, you call that bargaining?

More of the same, then it gets worse.


A week or so later on FaceBook, a friend (and fellow teacher from another district) noticed that I was going to participate in a "Wear Black on the First Day" event. His response was "Good luck with that."

What ensued was a thought provoking exchange where my more pragmatic friend explained to me that I was dealing with a different kind of animal... one that doesn't really care about maintaining good will.

I had to admit... he was right. There are certain people who don't play "fair." These are people, who in an argument, know no boundaries. They are ruthless.

Recently an interesting quote showed up on my iGoogle home page:

“I don’t care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do. The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it.”   William S. Burroughs

Burroughs was a non-conformist and not necessarily in a good way. He was also a genius.

I do care if people dislike me, but some people don't seem to care. They may make "good" bosses because of emotional distance. They may help restore short-term fiscal health, but at what cost to the long-term health of the organization?

Eliyahu Goldratt, developer of a management systems paradigm called The Theory of Constraints, argues that long-term health of a company is best achieved by finding Win-Win solutions for all stakeholders in the enterprise. When management wins and workers lose, then nobody wins.

Families, staff, and District Management must work together to find and implement win-win solutions.

But that won't happen if one of the stakeholders doesn't negotiate in good faith. That's short-sighted and demonstrates poor leadership.

Recently the CEO of HP was fired by his board for violating company ethics. The Houston Business Journal reported this:

"Questioning about the circumstances of Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd's resignation continued on the second weekend after his departure in the wake of a sexual harassment complaint."

"The consensus in Silicon Valley is that Mr. Hurd was despised at HP, not just by the rank and file, but even by HP’s top executives," Nocera wrote.

The Times columnist suggests that the sexual harassment claim merely gave the board the pretext for doing what it wanted to do, get rid of Hurd without provoking an outcry on Wall Street where he was extremely popular for turning around the company's finances.

Hurd was "extremely popular (on Wall Street) for turning around the company's finances..." but "...despised at HP, not just by the rank and file, but even by HP's top executives." 

Hurd disregarded some of the stakeholders in his organization. Evidently, he didn't care. (And, he may be laughing all the way to the bank after being fired, after all, his severance package was something like 17 million dollars plus stock options.)

I'm realistic enough to understand that people like that exist, but I find it disheartening to find them operating at the helm of an organization I'm associated with. 

This is new to Lowell Joint, and it's unsettling.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"She speaks for us," said Gayle Rogers.

Some time ago I posed some questions to the School Board about the dysfunction I see in the Lowell Joint family. (See “A Story About a Family.”)

The kids wonder about Dad:

Why doesn't Dad stand up to Mom and make her be nice and play fair?
Is Dad afraid of Mom?
Is Dad too unconcerned to find out what's really going on?
Or is Dad in cahoots with Mom?
Does Dad really believe everything Mom says and none of what we say?
Mom is hurting us, and Dad won't do anything about it?

Some time after that meeting, the Superintendent informed the Teachers’ Bargaining Team that she wanted to meet again (Meeting #5).

We were hopeful. We hoped that the Board might have instructed the Superintendent to come to the bargaining table with a new, more meaningful offer.

But… that. did. not. happen.

And we were disappointed.

What happened Dad?

At the close of the June 21st Board meeting, Gayle Rogers noted the current crisis is not because of the Superintendent. It is because of the economy. Gayle said this about the Superintendent, “She speaks for us.”

So when the Teachers’ Bargaining Team returned to the bargaining table, expecting some new offer, the Superintendent came back, apparently PER THE BOARD’S INSTRUCTIONS, with no offer to compromise.


Oh, rats.

One speaker at the June 21st Board meeting noted that, “Poop in a sack stinks. If you put the poop in a box and gift-wrap it, it’s still poop, and it still stinks!”

Thanks for nothing “Dad.”

So what’s our hope now? The neighbors! (This blog is a note to the neighbors.)

The parents and voters of Lowell Joint are busy, but hopefully not too busy to ask questions, insist on answers, and make their voices heard -- as individuals, as voters, or as candidates.

Too often, the Board and Superintendent provide a biased spin of information depending on the audience. Only if the “neighbors” begin to compare notes, will the truth be found out. Macy parents may hear one spin, Olita another…. You get the picture.

If you attended the Rancho graduation, you "got" to hear about seven minutes of Mr. Najera’s spin on the situation in the District. (And who was the bad guy in his spin? The teachers.) The last three minutes of Mr. Najera graduation speech was about graduation. The first seven minutes were an improper use of a public trust to advance a biased spin.

Many in the audience were incensed. The unsuspecting were fed biased information without an opportunity for a public rebuttal.

(What was the Board’s public spin on the speech: it was wonderful! (At least that’s what was said at the June 21st Board meeting. But then again, there was no public protest -- by parent, teacher, or administrator.)

Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Beware of spin-doctors (even of me!)

Each of us need to connect-the-dots.

The dots I connected recently point to a School Board directing a Superintendent not to negotiate in good faith, and that saddens me.

But it also informs my course of action.

How about you?


What's a community/parent to do? (Run for the Board!)

This "connect-the-dots" blog has led me to see a bigger picture: one that includes parent involvement at the school board level. A good recent example was the service of Cathleen Greer.

Cathleen joined the Board, served several terms, and then moved on to other challenges. She stepped forward and took her participation to the next level. She added a needed voice.

Three of five seats on the School Board are up for election. Will the voters have a choice? Is it time for you to step forward and serve?

The deadline for filing papers is looming. Go for it!

Another level of parent involvement is simply raising your voice to be heard by the Board. They say they speak for the voters. Do they speak for you?

Got questions? (Ask them!)

Who said what? June 21st Board Meeting

At the June 21st Board meeting, a dozen or so attendees braved the speaker’s podium to share their concerns, cares, and opinions. Before the meeting, 20 or so teachers picketed in the area of Whittier Boulevard and Valley Home.

What are the teachers and support staff so concerned about? (School’s out, it’s Monday night, why are they coming to a Board meeting?)

Here are some names and some of their thoughts. (Names are mostly spelled right. Add a comment if I got something wrong. Thanks.)

Leslie Mangold (Meadow Green, 3rd grade teacher): Concerns over the increasing rift in negotiations.

Note: Comments made at an earlier Board meeting by a board member have incensed many of the classified employees in the district. The comments implied that the classified employees should carry more of the weight of needed cuts because they were less essential. (This is one reason board members seldom speak after comments from the audience, because their words – and beliefs – sometimes get them in trouble.)

Teena Serrano: Rancho-Starbuck (front office): In part, Teena informed the Board that she and many of her co-workers (non-teachers), consistently put in extra hours to make sure that the school site continue to function. She and her co-workers work above and beyond the call of duty!

Unknown: Another classified employee informed the Board of the many cuts the classified employees have endured over the past years: cutting of hours, cutting of benefits, cutting of jobs, etc. Classified employees have done their part in controlling costs.

Marilyn Durrazo (Meadow Green, Kindergarten teacher): Disappointment over...

MaryJane Barger: Disappointment at the lack of meaningful negotiations on the part of the District. The District called for a resumption of talks, the union complied, and the District just repackaged the same offer, for the 4th time. (Five meetings: one offer.) She noted that the union came with a one year offer with deeper cuts than the District had asked for, but the District was unwilling to consider anything but a three-year deal. The District came to the table and informed the teachers’ union, that the Board had directed the District’s team to offer no compromises.

Monica Redell (RSP instructional assistant): Concerns over paying people a fair wage for the work they do.

Martha Leonard (Macy Parent): Martha repeated her concern over a lack of fiscal leadership by the Board and Superintendent over pay. She asked the Board again, “What pay cuts are you personally taking to show good faith towards solving the fiscal problems?” 

Jeannie Nichols (El Portal primary teacher): She asked the question: Why is the District still not bargaining in good faith?

Teresa Herman (El Portal, 3rd grade teacher): She asked Mr. Najara, “You said you’d review the budget line by line… have you?” She noted that the District’s budget projections have been overstated 13 of the last 14 times. She knew the numbers, did they? Mrs. Herman was awake during the budget presentations tonight while two (of five) board members nodded, fighting sleep and boredom? She was awake, and they needed to be too!

Ronnie Mayer (CSEA president): Concerns over change in the philosophy of the District, especially in regards to classified employees. (Ronnie was cut off by the gavel, but finished her prepared remarks in a second three-minute segment donated by another speaker.)

Nancy Rogers (Jordan, 4th grade teacher):  Nancy raised concerns over the Board’s determined course to impose permanent solutions via permanent pay cuts, when the Board continually acknowledges that the problems we face are temporary.

Kelly Aldacoa (Macy teacher): What kind of the district is the Board building? One where tyranny runs rampant?

Marikate Wissman (CTA co-president): Concerns over negotiations, or lack there-of earlier in the day.

Margaret Palmer (Olita Kindergarten teacher): Concerns over the lack of true leadership being shown by members of the Board, who are more likely to ignore problems (head-in-the-sand) than to find meaningful solutions.

Don Evans (El Portal, RSP): I spoke first about the shameful and degrading enforcement of the three-minute rule. It was rude and disrespectful. Additionally, it demonstrated the District’s true avoidance of meaningful dialogue. I provided the Board a copy of the main part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed last year by the Superintendent that assured that “in no event” would a teacher earn less in 2010-2011 than they would have had not the teachers voluntarily taken a temporary freeze in the salary schedule. That this was true was evidenced by the line item in their own “Approved Actuals” report presented earlier in the evening. A Board, which preaches Character Education and Honesty, is guilty of attempting to renege on their written, signed contract. That’s hypocrisy! (And maybe illegal.) ---- Then the bell rang --- and I said, “Go ahead, hit the gavel.” (But they didn’t, and I walked away.)

Ronnie Mayer (Part two): Ronnie noted that the Board’s repeated actions against the classified employees have greatly undermined morale. Despite all the Board has done, employees have continued to show up and perform their duties as true professionals, quite often above and beyond contractual limits. These employees deserve respect, not disrespect.

My apologies for mistakes in content and/or the spelling of names. If I got something wrong, let me know. Especially if you think I missed the point of what you said! This post is more of second-draft. If you have improvements, let me know.

Final Thoughts: The employees of Lowell Joint continue to provide award-winning performance for the students and the families of Lowell Joint. The recent Distinguished School awards simply document a reality that has been in place for decades. The above-and-beyond level of service is predicated on the professionalism and goodwill of the work force. That goodwill is being undermined by repeated indignities (both personal and fiscal) being imposed by the Board of Trustees and its Superintendent.

Ultimately, it is the participating public that needs to provide the pressure needed to keep Lowell Joint the jewel it has been for decades.
Those who give of their time and talents volunteering on campuses, in PTA committees, may also need to consider serving at a higher level of the organization. 

Applications for running for the School Board are due… very soon! 

(Mrs. Averill announced her resignation at the end of the June 21st board meeting. The meeting closed with Mrs. Averill presenting a gift to Mrs. Rogers, who announced last month that she was not seeking re-election.) 

Three of five seats are up for election. Will the voters have a choice? I hope so.


Shameful Behavior: The Three-Minute Rule and the Gavel of “Shhh!!!!”

The June 21st Board of Trustees meeting was an interesting, though long affair.

The meeting began on time at 7:30 with an overflow crowd of District staff and some parents attending.

The meeting began with well wishes from Jan Averill who said how glad she was to have so many attending, despite busy summer schedules.

How ironic that the District staff had closed many of the normally open rooms to keep people in the audience from getting themselves chairs to sit on: for over two and a half hours.

How ironic, that though an overflow crowd was expected, no attempt was made to provide a sound system to aid the hearing of those in the room, in the hallways, or in the lobby. Not even the microphone on the speaker’s platform was operational, nor a microphone for the Board President. How ironic? How shameful! (Perhaps it borders on intentional and sinister.)

Perhaps you think I’m overreacting? Well, I was informed that a district custodian was stationed in the main hallway with directions from the district, not to allow chairs to be brought out for those attending to use. How welcoming? (Or not.) How shameful. (How hypocritical! “Glad to see you… please remain standing…”)

Probably 95% or more of the audience was there to speak to Item 9 on the Agenda: Other Topics. (One set of parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bakis did question why the district was starting school so early this year, and why the District was making Thanksgiving a whole week of vacation.)

After waiting patiently for over 1 ½ hours the “welcomed” public was allowed to speak to Item 9: Other Topics. How welcome were the opinions, cares, and concerns of these Lowell Joint “family” members? The Board chose this night to enforce the three-minute-rule via a three-minute timer and a gong (I mean gavel.) Really?

I understand the need to keep the long-winded under control. I understand the need to keep a long meeting from getting epic. I understand Robert’s Rules of Order. What I don’t understand is how a school board that says, “We value you; You are important; You are appreciated;” could, through its actions, say, “Shut up. Sit down. We’ve heard enough. Your words aren’t worth more than three minutes: exactly!”

Researchers tell us that most people fear public speaking more than they do death, yet this night a dozen people had prepared remarks, come early, signed up to speak, waited their turn, only to be cut-off as they were in the process of making closing statements. REALLY???

Who would do that? Why would they do that? If actions speak louder than words, then the Board made clear that they are not interested in hearing from their “family” of employees, both classified and certificated. From their position of elected authority, they repeatedly issued a loud “Shhh…” via the sound of a bell and a gavel.

How bad was it? Mrs. Averill imposed the three-minute gavel on Mrs. Mayer, the president of the classified union, who had more than a dozen unit members standing while she made her remarks. (12 x 3 would be 36 minutes, but Ronnie was given three. She only needed six. She was reading her speech.)

The district is calling for “civility” in our exchanges, yet they gave an institutionalized “Shhh” to the head of one of the unions? It was shameful, and I said so when my turn came to speak.

Another member of the audience turned in a request to speak and then granted her minutes so that Mrs. Mayer could complete her remarks. She did so in less than three additional minutes. Could the board not give six minutes to the head of a bargaining unit with so many of the unit members in attendance? Really? (How unwise. How shortsighted. How rude. How uncivil.)

In another post I’ll share a bit about what each of the dozen speakers said, because it will not show up in the “In the Know.” Why not?

Because the Board demonstrated that it is not interested in any other opinion other than its own, nor is it interested in listening to the other stakeholders in the district, at least not to the workers.

What stakeholders will they listen to? The voting public! The informed and questioning public!

(And I’ll bet that they are a lot less likely to impose a three-minute rule on them when they speak at a Board Meeting. Just ask the Bakis family: they asked questions, they got answers, and they did not get the gavel.

The gavel was reserved for others. The gavel-of-shame was wielded to quell the speech of those who also asked questions, but got no answers. Who shared concerns, but got no response. What did we get? The gavel.

(We didn’t even get rollover minutes from the many who spoke in less than three-minutes.) AT&T gets it. Why doesn’t our Board?

Shame on them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Majoring in the Minors: CPN... A sad sample of misguided priorities.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Thomas Jefferson

As I noted in an earlier post, I believe that the District has proposed adding language into the current contract that would disallow the use of Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN) before or after a contractual holiday.

You might think I'm exaggerating when I talk of Majoring in the Minors, but I'm not. A good example of this is the recent case of Mrs. Herman, a third grade teacher at El Portal. Mrs. Herman had scheduled herself to compete in the Paris Marathon during Spring Break. Her doctor suggested that she should allow several days to acclimate, and as a result Mrs. Herman used her two contractual CPN days to arrive early enough to acclimate prior to competing. So what's the problem?

The Superintendent decided that this was an opportunity to invoke disciplinary action! So she did.

A letter was written admonishing the teacher, and the letter was placed in the teacher's personnel file.

But Mrs. Herman is not easily intimidated, bullied, or mistreated. She filed a grievance. (Not allowing evil to triumph sometimes requires that we learn what are rights are, and how to stand up for them. Go Mrs. Herman!)

Mrs. Herman also responded to the Superintendent's letter with one of her own, which was also placed in the personnel file.

In the end, the Superintendent agreed "to remove the formal discipline notice and Ms. Herman's accompanying response from Ms. Herman's personnel file effectively this date, May 24, 2010."

This all transpired just before the District supplied their final contractual offer before declaring impasse. In that new "offer" --  new language was added trying to codify the Superintendent's stamp of disapproval regarding the use of CPNs. Majoring in the Minors... at the expense of employee good will.

At the bottom of this post, I'll supply the text from all three pieces of correspondence. Mrs. Herman was willing to share them with us in hopes that this too will help us "connect the dots" and bring into focus some of the problems haunting Lowell Joint... behind closed doors.

Before the letters, how about a bit of irony...

"Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." -- Thomas Jefferson

On the two days in question, I believe the Superintendent was on vacation, so she could spend some time with her husband, whose Spring Break did not line up with Lowell Joint's.

(Per her contract, she has vacation days that can be used at her discretion: no questions asked.)

"When people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have liberty" - Thomas Jefferson

* * * * * *
In reverse chronological order:

"Decision of Principal, Department Head or Next Level Supervisor:
     On May 24, 2010, the parties met to consider Teresa Herman's appeal and request to have the formal discipline notice and her accompanying response removed from her personnel file. In question was Ms. Herman's use of Compelling personal Necessity (CPN) on April 8 and 9, 2010, for travel to Paris, France, in order to compete in the Paris marathon. At issue was the interpretation of Article XXIII, Section F(1) of the Lowell Joint Education Association (LJEA) Contract regarding Personal Necessity that states: 'Personal Necessity Leave may be utilized by a unit member who has sufficient unused sick leave credit for circumstances which cannot be dealt with during off-duty hours and that are serious in nature, that is which cannot be expected to be disregarded and/or which necessitate immediate attention... Each unit member may use two (2) days of leave, under this provision, per year for personal reasons other than concerted activities. This day shall be deducted from the unit member's sick leave, and the reason for absence shall be Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN.)'
     It is Ms. Herman's contention that she was not in violation of the above referenced Article. It is the District's contention that while CPN days may be used for personal reasons, given that the days are entitle as Personal Necessity days, the personal reasons for the use of CPN days must fall within the description of Personal Necessity days as included in Article XXIII stated above, and that vacation days do not comply with the description as stated in the LJEA Contract. There, Ms. Herman's use of CPN days for vacation time was a violation of Article XXIII.
     During the conference on May 24, 2010, the Superintendent shared three areas that were of concern: (1) Ms. Herman's principal, as her direct supervisor, had approved the use of the two CPN days prior to April 8, 2010, knowing that Ms. Herman was planning to leave early for France. (2) While the District had not proposed deducting salary for the use of two work days, the Superintendent has determined that under the previous superintendents(s) Article XXIII, Section F(1) was not consistently interpreted and applied. (3) While Ms. Herman and the Superintendent have differing views as to the interpretation of the definition of a CPN day, it is clear that both LJEA and the District need to work together to further define the use of a CPN day and both parties need to be diligent in education the unit members and the administrative team regarding contract language.
     Therefore, the Superintendent agrees to remove the formal discipline notice and Ms. Herman's accompanying response from Ms. Herman's personnel file effectively this date, May 24, 2010."

Reading between the lines (where I added bolding above), I see that not all previous Superintendent's agreed with Dr. Howell's interpretation, and that -- by golly -- we need to add language to the contract (Further Define), so that Dr. Howell's interpretation will prevail! And be taught! And be adhered to! (Grrrr....)


"May 6, 2010

Dr. Patricia Howell
Lowell Joint School District
11019 Valley Home Avenue
Whittier, CA 90603

Re: Use of Compelling Personal Leave

Dr. Howell:

This letter is written to inform you that my use of Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN) leave on April 8 and 9, 2010, was not in violation of the current collective bargaining agreement and does not constitute cause for disciplinary action. There, your recent letter I received on April 29, has no place in my personnel file.

Your contention that my use of Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN) leave on April 8 and 9, 2010, was in violation of the current collective bargaining agreement represents your misunderstanding of the collective bargaining agreement.

The District's contractual agreement with the Lowell Joint Education Association (LJEA), Article XXIII, Section F(1), states the following concerting Persona Necessity (PN) and Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN) days: 'Persona Necessity Leave may be utilized by a unit member who has sufficient unused sick leave credit for circumstances which cannot be dealt with during off-duty hours and that are serious in nature, that is which cannot be expected to be disregarded and/or which necessitate immediate attention. A leave of absence for personal necessity may be granted to a unit member, for no more that twenty (20) days in each school year. Additional leave may be grated at the discretion of the Superintendent. Such leaves shall be deducted from a unit member's accumulated sick leave benefits for those situations necessitating the unit member's absence from duty. Each unit member may use two (2) days of leave, under this provision, per year for personal reasons other that concerted activities. These days shall be deducted from the unit member's sick leave, and the reason for the absence shall be Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN.)'

The language is very clear. Your contention fails to recognize a unit member's right to 'use two (2) days of leave per year for personal reasons other than concerted activities.' You further fail to recognize that 'the reason for the absence shall be Compelling Personal Necessity (CPN).'

Your assertion, per our conversat6ion on April 29, in the presence of Kim Likert, my school site administrator, and Tom Hollister, my representative from the California Teachers' Association, that CPN days were to be used for private matters such as psychological counseling and the like, implies that the collective bargaining agreement allows you to determine the scope of what is 'compelling, personal, or necessary' for any and all unit members. Clearly, such determinations are outside your purview. The CPN box checked serves as all that is required as a  reason. Please note that while it is not necessary for me to obtain the approval of my site administrator to take CPN days, as you know, my principal was aware of my plans, and substantiated my course, and validated my right to utilize my CPN days.

Furthermore, your practice of asking site administrators why teachers are taking CPN days, as you admitted to in our conversation on April 29, is emblematic of how you endeavor to overstep the boundaries stated in the collective bargaining contract. Frankly, it smacks of bullying and intimidation and undermines the professional relationship otherwise enjoyed by the teachers and site administrators of Lowell Joint.

Allow me to explain how this practice of yours is playing out across the district. When one of my colleagues heard last week about how disciplinary action was the topic of my conversation with you last Thursday afternoon, she responded with, "'I was planning to take my CPN day to attend a church function next month. I guess I should call in sick instead." Dr. Howell, is that the kind of work environment you wish to create? The fall-out of your management style is an unhealthy work environment. Teachers in Lowell Joint are feeling intimidated into reporting they are sick, instead of exercising their right to use CPN days, as afforded by the collective bargaining agreement. Be aware of that.

Your letter states: 'Your conduct is also in violation of Board Policy 4219.21 - Professional Standards. The policy states: ""The Board of Trustees expects district employees to maintain the highest ethical standards, follow district policies and regulations, and abide by state and federal laws. Employee conduct should enhance the integrity of the district and advance the goals of the educational programs. Each employee should make a commitment to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill his/her responsibilities and should focus on his/her contribution to the learning and achievement of district students. The Board encourages district employees to accept as guiding principles the professional standards and codes of ethics adopted by professional associations to which the may belong."

Your proclamation is puzzling to me. To my mind, training for and completing a marathon exemplifies goal setting and self-discipline, two of the character traits addressed in our District Character Education Program. I proudly teach these character traits and endeavor to reflect them in my professional and personal life. I recognize and take very seriously my responsibility to lead by example, and to that end, I was proud to share my experience of running the Paris Marathon with my students. I dare say, they shared my pride and were genuinely happy for my accomplishment. One student shared as we discussed my fitness goals and progress toward them, 'You've gotta go, Mrs. Herman. You've trained hard for it and it is your dreams.'

Your letter further states: "your duties as a professional education and your responsibilities to the students in your classroom are of utmost importance. As a teacher you are expected to serve as a role model for students in the district. Knowing that El Portal Elementary School and the District have been stressing the importance of student attendance every day, it is disappointing that you would knowingly miss two days of school for your own personal vacation time. This misconduct constitutes ground for discipline under Education Code Section 44939, and justification for withholding compensation under Education Code Section 45055."

Your hurtful accusation and question of my integrity begs the questions:

How do you then justify the District's proposal for the elimination of instructional days for the 2010-2011 school year, when such a proposal knowingly denies all students of Lowell Joint School District of education days?

How do you account for the fact that a Lowell Joint School District Board member took her child out of school early in recent years to head for a European vacation, and was congratulated and encouraged by District Administration for such an educational endeavor?

Why do you assume that my Compelling Personal Necessity was for my "own personal vacation time" when in fact an arrival time two nights prior to the Paris Marathon was necessary for adequate rest and adequate time to adjust to the vast time difference? Such preparation was vital to a healthful and successful completion of the marathon. French law mandates that all marathon participants provide a medical release form signed by a medical doctor in order to take part. I received this approval from my physician, with the understanding that I would have adequate time in Paris prior to the race to rest and adjust to the time difference. It should be noted here that these facts are again, outside your purview and only addressed here to respond to your false assumption.

Have you reviewed my Lowell Joint School District Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness on file as you attacked my Profession Standards? They speak for themselves.

How do your practices of question site administrators about teachers' use of CPN days and intimidating teachers into being fearful of exercising their right to CPN days "enhance the integrity of the District?" You cited Board Policy 4219.21 - Professional Standards. Ironically, I believe you need to question your own behavior, as District Policy clearly refers to all District employees, not just teachers.

As you attack my right to take my CPN days, have you, at all, considered the fact that I worked a full day, each Saturday and Sunday, at my school site, for three consecutive weeks to prepare for our visit by the committee evaluation our school for the California Distinguished School Award? My colleagues and I wanted to make sure we were presenting our school in the most favorable light possible as we applied for that prestigious award. The extra time that was required was given freely by each of us. As professionals, we recognized the need to go the extra mile in order to earn this honor that bodes so well for Lowell Joint. We are so pleased and proud to be recognized as a California Distinguished School.

Your accusations are hurtful and unfounded.

The education Code Section you cite reads: "Except as otherwise provided in this code no warrant shall be drawn in favor of any teacher, unless the officer whose duty is to draw the warrant is satisfied that the teacher has faithfully performed all the duties prescribed."

You believe, as discussed in your letter that "the use of a CPN day must fall within the description of a PN day" does not line up with the contractual agreement. Quite simply, Dr. Howell, if CPN days needed to fall within the description of PN days, the CPN provision would not exist. To that end, when I checked the box "Compelling Personal Necessity" on my leave report, my report was complete and in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. The "Brief details" referring to items 'a' through 'h' under this policy refer to Personal Necessity. Compelling Personal Necessity is clearly delineated in both the collective bargaining agreement and the Lowell Joint School District Leave Report. Disciplinary action and/or a letter in my personnel file are inappropriate. I have and continue to perform all duties of my position in accordance with the LJEA contract, Board Policy, and the Education Code regulations, including properly utilizing CPN and PN days.


Theresa Herman

(The letter was cc'd to the principal, the LJEA co-presidents, Tom Holister - CTA rep, and all members of the school board. I hope they read it.)

A bit more irony?  Dr. Howell not only holds a Clear Administrative Credential, but she holds a teaching credential: Authorized Subject?... wait for it... Physical Education (by examination), with a supplementary authorization in Introductory Mathematics. C'mon!

Holder of a PE authorization, disciplining a marathon runner? She can't validate the endeavor? Really?


My hands are tired so I'm not going to retype Dr. Howell's entire two-page letter. The majority of it is quoted in Mrs. Herman's letter. I'll just give you the final two paragraphs:

"You are directed to perform all duties of your position in accordance with the LJEA contract, Board Policy, and Education Code regulations, including properly utilizing CPN and PN days."

"Your failure to comply with these directives could result in disciplinary action. Moreover, the District does not intend to impinge upon your right to participate in activities protected by law; however, your conduct as described above is not protected by law and should not be repeated."



Nothin' better to do than sniff out such non-violations? Really?

Let's Major in the Majors! And remove the "clarifying" language re: CPNs from the current "offer"! 

PS: Special thanks to Mrs. Herman for standing up for what is right, for allowing us to peak in behind closed doors, and for completing the Paris Marathon! Yowza.