Q&A of the Day – Palm Beach County’s decision to “reassign” a discredited principal
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Does “Who Is John Galt” ring a bell?
I saw this in Canada in the hospitals that Directors that were bad never got fired or demoted just reassigned the same as he’s going to be at Spanish River high school.
Bottom Line: First, kudos on the Atlas Shrugged reference. Speaking of education – that should be required reading in our schools. This note references the now former Spanish River High School principal, William Latson, who was removed as principal for suggesting that the Holocaust wasn’t a factual historical event. Latson hasn’t been fired, he’s been “reassigned” to a yet to be determined position. Now, for many of us, we’re wondering why we’d have to continue to pay taxes to pay for someone this misguided. In the real world his employment would be terminated. This is really just a higher profile example of a bigger issue in public education – how often employees are “reassigned” rather than terminated. The likely reason comes down to the collective bargaining agreement with the union. It’s literally 85 pages. I’ve pulled two applicable provisions within it that will give you an idea of what it takes to terminate someone who works within the School District.
An employee against whom action is to be taken under this Article and his/her Union representative shall have the right to review and refute any and all of the information relied upon to support any proposed disciplinary action prior to taking such action. To this end, the employee and the Union representative shall be afforded a reasonable amount of time to prepare and present responses/refutations concerning the pending disciplinary action and concerning the appropriateness of the proposed disciplinary action. This amount of time is to be mutually agreed upon by the Parties.
An employee against whom disciplinary action(s) has/have been taken may appeal through the grievance procedure. However, if the disciplinary action(s) result(s) in either the suspension or dismissal of an employee, then the employee shall have a choice of appeal between either the Department of Administrative Hearings in accordance with Florida Statutes or the grievance procedure outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. Such choice must be exercised within fifteen (15) days of receipt of written notification of disciplinary action being taken, and the District notified accordingly. If the grievance procedure is selected, the grievance shall be initiated at Step Three.
Again, there are 85 pages of stuff like this that’s part of the typical employment agreement. Rather than the potential for a long, drawn out, public, grievance process – it's easier for the District to simply reassign. This takes us back to the point of your note. Remember the saying “Do what is right, not what is easy”. This is the failure of government officials working in their interests rather than the public servants they’re tasked with being. They all literally work for us, yet is this what any of us want? What’s wrong with that picture? And it starts with absurd collective bargaining agreements with public sector unions like the one in place in our school districts. And changing that policy will require replacing the school board members who’ve allowed all of this to happen with those who’re more interested in serving the interests of us.