I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is This Due Process----or a Fleecing of the Taxpayer?

Recently,  school board members received a list of 9 employees who have been  "placed on suspension with pay pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct".

This memo was labeled "for informational purposes only", and on the bottom of the memo was listed an appropriate district HR person to contact if Board Members wanted additional information.  So I called and received a brief synopsis of each of the allegations leveled against each of these employees.

I think the district moves cautiously, which is in most cases very wise to do---but my issue here is that we are moving so cautiously that we are costing taxpayers large sums of money unnecessarily. 

The offenses of these nine employees, while all are significant,  run the gamut from bad to really bad to

 dangerously bad.

In real life, in a real company, the lion's share of these nine employees would have been terminated immediately for committing the offenses for which they stand accused. 

If suspension was the course to take, then for most of these employees I strongly feel a suspension without pay should  have been  the vehicle to use during an investigation--and here is why.

If we put an employee on a suspension with pay for  a period of almost two months  over an infraction that might ultimately result in a one day, three day, or five day suspension without pay----then we have actually rewarded that employee with an up to 8 week taxpayer paid vacation!!  Madness!

If we put an employee on suspension with pay for an infraction which will eventually lead to a termination (which I believe to be the case with at least two of the nine employees referenced above)--Then when the "district investigation" finally concludes, we will have given the terminated emplyoyee money (taxpayer money) to which they were not entitled!!  This payout could total thousands of dollars for the period between when the infraction occurred and when discipline was finally administered!  This is insanity, especially when the infraction is defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as an offense that leads to termination!

I know the backlog of district investigations is the driving force behind the nearly two month delay for some of these employees on suspension with pay to be processed--and I know this is frustrating for district HR employees.  I get that. 

And I'm told the union is behind this, as they are challenging every employee discipline, grieving every action that is grieveable, and challenging the district at every turn with respect to discipline.  This is good for recruiting new union members.  This, too, is a huge problem.

But the drain on employee resources to fight the union over every little thing (even verbal reprimands) is zapping precious taxpayer resources, re-directing these funds away form students and classrooms, and is getting to the point of ridiculousness.  I know we have to live with the CBA, I do not agree with many provisions of our CBA, and I have famously voted against this CBA in the past--becuse I see this for what it is:  This is abuse of taxpayer resources by fiat under the guise of "due process for association members"

I think it is time to really get after a better CBA that is more friendly and fair to the TAXPAYERS, and that is what I am going to do the next time this document is re-opened for negotiations and I have a crack at it! This I promise!

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