Monday, June 7, 2010

Arbitrary and capricious behavior!

In a recent post I noted that "Repeated indignities large and small seem to be a recurring theme in Lowell Joint." And that, “Perhaps the current negotiation process is only high-lighting a larger problem?”

Some teachers are waking up in the middle of the night angry. Why?

Because we feel betrayed, lied to, and mistreated. Our sense of justice has been violated. Some of us feel that tyranny is seeping into our professional lives. What is tyranny? It is “oppressive power exerted by government,” in this case our District leadership. So what are we to do?

The Declaration of Independence provides us with a model for dealing with tyranny.
"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

The colonists decided provide a set of examples of the behaviors they interpreted as injurious, usurpataious, and tyrannical.
So, let me give you an example from our current LJ history:

The recent "complete" minutes of the Board meeting of June 7, 2010 contained a section on a recent dispute about a layoff notice.
One teacher was laid-off by the District and another one wasn't. The one who was laid off protested and filed a complaint. She didn’t think she was being treated fairly by the District. The two parties went before a judge, with the Superintendent representing the District's layoff decision.

The judge ruled in favor of the protesting laid-off teacher.

In addition to the fact that the District got the issue all wrong, the judge also commented on the manner in which the District pursued its aims. In the judge's summation concerning the District's position presented by the Superintendent, the judge noted that the District behaved in a manner that was "capricious and arbitrary."

The judge also stated that the District's misapplication of reasoning and policy was a "guise" for circumventing the clear intent of the law.
One of the major complaints in the current cycle of contract negotiations is the apparent high-handed inflexibility being demonstrated by the District's negotiating team led by the Superintendent.
It's almost like the District is being "capricious and arbitrary." It's almost like the District's performance at the bargaining table has simply been a "guise." It's almost like there is a recurring theme of indignities large and small, of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of absolute tyranny. This time, a judge stopped the injustice and tyranny. (Woohoo!)

Hopefully, this is an indicator of a new trend. Hopefully, the District noted that "capricious and arbitrary" behavior in matters of contract law will come to light and justice will prevail. And hopefully, this incident will serve as another Connect-the-dots moment for the reader.
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If you’d like to see the document… “Complete minutes of each Board meeting are available in the Superintendent’s Office for review.” (Sure wish they were available as a PDF on the District’s main web-site… but they are not.)
I’ll provide a few paragraphs from the judge’s ruling below, just to provide context. Quotes are from Exhibit A in the LJSD Board Meeting minutes of June 7, 2010:

“Nancy Beezy Micon, Administrative Law Judge, Office of Administrative Hearings, heard this matter on April 26, 2010, in Whittier, California.”

“Superintendent Howell’s use of tie-breaking criteria number ten to determine Respondents’ relative qualifications for a potential assignment was improperly applied. Tie-breaking criteria are not to be used to determine a person’s qualifications for an assignment. The use of criteria ten as a basis to determine competency is inherently unfair since the person currently holding the potential assignment is likely to have more years of service in the subject matter or field. The majority of employees who have the same first date of paid service are not being compared for potential assignments. The criteria are intended to be used to rank seniority based on the needs of the District. In this case, the wording of tie-break criteria number ten was vague and it led to the application of tie-breaking criteria number ten in a manner that was arbitrary and capricious.” (Page 6)

“A senior teacher has a right to have competence determined with a view to courses and programs. A senior teacher has a right to have a competency determination focused on his or her specific training and experience as they relate to the duties of a position. A school district may not, in the guise of determining whether a teacher is competent, promote some policy that is not focused on that question.” (Page 9 and 10)

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