I recieved numerous telephone calls and appreciate the many words of support. My heart has been warmed by offers of opening the union office at night when you got off work and donations of your leave to me so that I can be at the union office. Most of all, I am proud to be regarded as a straight shooter who members can trust no matter what the personal cost. Killing the Messenger - Part II will address the specific plot tactics. Only last Thursday, April 30, 2009 DCPS came out with some bomb shell documents refuting certain misinformation offered by President George Parker. The documents indicated dates, places, who, what, when and where the private deal occurred. George Parker lied to the Executive Board, Representative Assembly, WTU legal counsel, media, and all of us. He did negotiate a private deal which covered all employees except me thereby adding to the probability my leave of absence application would be denied.
In the coming paragraphs I am going to lay out the documents as succinctly as possible. Yes, the “Turner at Green Elementary School” documents are included. While my argument is in-depth, it will provide interesting reading for any DCPS teacher, public school activist, legislator or union commentator. It clearly demonstrates DCPS mistakes while taking punitive personnel actions. What appears to have been a long period of time to resolve a problem actually amounted to having 4 business days. Only after the letter of rejections of my leave of absence application was it clear there was a plot. After being stonewalled in an attempt to find out the truth I understood my union was intimately involved in my attempted demise. WTU/AFT colluded with management to destroy a union member-plain and simple. It is ugly but honest. This was a plan to end my teaching career in DCPS, my ability to hold elected office in the WTU and deny teachers their rights. The ultimate external benefit to the conspirators was to create a “chilling effect of quieting the entire membership” and getting teachers to sign an upcoming WTU contract out of fear with no dissenting voices. The benefit to President George Parker was absolute control immediately and no General Vice President Nathan Saunders as Presidential candidate in 2010. If the ultimate goal (my termination) was achieved I would not be able to run for any union office as I would not be a union member/teacher in DCPS. He also got the opportunity to say Michelle Rhee, the union buster, did it. The attachments also revealed the origin of the problem which was not dereliction of duty but the transition of the DCPS system into a mayor controlled system. Normally, when personnel related issues arise there is a quieting of the activity resulting from refusal to release personnel documents. Download Saunders attachments. I want you to see our union and our school system’s work. You will find out shortly the notice to return to duty was maliciouly leak to the Washington Post. You will see the misinformation reported in the media from those teachers and union members are supposed to trust is alarming. For example, it is a mistruth that I fail to apply for a leave of absence and I was derelict in my responsibility. Per DCPS’ attorney my leave of absence status stayed the same until DCPS contacted me.
The plot unfolds with DCPS’ rejection of my official “DCPS Leave of Absence Application.” (See attachment #1). Download Saunders attachments. This action ensued after negotiations between Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson and WTU President George Parker. I was not aware of the negotiations or its results. A new standard has been established which is not decipherable as Deputy Chancellor Henderson’s rejection letter notes changes to the leave of absence process, but WTU President George Parker says are no changes. (See attachment #2). As a result, I am adversely impacted. Deputy Chancellor Henderson has not responded to my April 22, 2009 email request for information and clarification. (See attachment #3). Her one month delay between my application submission date and her rejection letter allowed me less time to resolve the issue. I had to contact her to seek the status of my submitted application. (See attachment #4). After her rejection letter, I had four business days for resolution before reporting to Eastern SHS.
The following are reasons Chancellor Rhee’s direct involvement is required:
1. Emails from Michael Levy, Attorney Advisor, DCPS Office of General Counsel, recognized that I was on a “different method of leave of absence” from DCPS, and further confirmed my leave of absence status would remain the same until further notification. (See attachment #5 and #6). My communication with him constituted “proper application” as specifically agreed in the emails dated August 30 and 31, 2007. (See attachment #7). Attorney Levy attributed delay in all WTU leave of absence issues to transition to a mayoral controlled school system. (See attachment #8). Based on the email chain with the DCPS Office of General Counsel herein, I rightfully believed my leave of absence status was current. Any implications I was derelict in this duty is self serving as DCPS never followed up. (See attachment #9).
2. According to Deputy Chancellor Henderson, the “loan-reimbursement memorandum method” leave of absence constitutes “proper application…” I do not agree. This type of memorandum creates a DCPS non-collateral, 0% interest rate loan to WTU. A blank copy is attachment #10. I have never received a DCPS paycheck while working for WTU members and I will not start now. I have long maintained this practice should be discontinued as it is disruptive and unnecessary. The WTU/DCPS contract Article XVIII (E)(5) sufficiently addresses leave of absence to work for the union without any reference to a leave of absence memorandum, dual payrolls, timesheets for schools you do not work, memorandum of understanding (agreement), president’s signature, loan agreement, or reimbursement. “Leave of absence without pay to work for the union” has creatively changed into “leave of absence with pay and benefits” for a select few. Historically, “proper application…” has been the simple official “DCPS Leave of Absence Application.” (See attachment #11). Requiring the “loan-reimbursement memorandum method” as the new standard may have been influenced by personal and political interest not collective teacher and student interests.
3. Consistently, DCPS has failed to provide proper notice by incorrectly addressing my mail. There is no “1125 Bellevue St. NE” but I formerly lived at “1125 Bellevue St. SE.” After receiving an email dated March 11, 2009 with two previous notices attached (correspondence dated January 30, 2009 and March 11, 2009), I advised Deputy Chancellor Henderson of my correct mailing address. (See attachment #12). I completed and submitted the official “DCPS Leave of Absence Application.” (See attachment #13). Suspiciously on DCPS’ next notice to me, the house address numbers of the new address I provided were transposed, “3224” became “3324”, once again causing a defective mail service. A reasonable response period or accommodations given DCPS’ numerous errors was not afforded. Deputy Chancellor Henderson, however, did correct a notice to report during a time period when the school system was closed to teachers and students (spring break). This prima facie case illustrates how easy a teacher can be improperly disciplined or terminated by DCPS errors and procedural due process failures. Additionally, the initial correspondence from Deputy Chancellor Henderson was leaked to the Washington Post violating the confidentiality of my personnel records.
4. President Parker’s response regarding the status of his signature is attachment #14. Download Letter from George Parker to Nathan Saunders re response to leave of absence issue. This requirement could be manipulated as a political tool. My position as an elected union official, eligible for a leave of absence without pay, is constitutionally mandated and contractually protected -Article XVIII (E)(5). The WTU/DCPS Contract parole evidence rule features require all contract modifications to be in writing with notice. No union member is bound to a “private negotiation or agreement” between any union official and management irrespective of their titles. The basis of my Official “DCPS Leave of Absence Application” rejection is such a situation. The official “DCPS leave of absence application” is and has always been an acceptable method of satisfying the “proper notice…” requirement. Modifications are DCPS’ and WTU’s joint and several responsibilities. Neither fulfilled its obligation.
5. As Deputy Chancellor Henderson’s only supervisor, your authority can rectify this issue. The chronology suggests Deputy Chancellor Henderson may have acted out of malice and abused her government authority. The timing of her first leave of absence inquiry was January 30, 2009 just days after receiving my January 13, 2009 response to her December 24, 2008 letter of complaint about my union activity at Turner at Green Elementary School. Her Christmas Eve letter of complaint threatened to “pursue all available legal options” for statements allegedly made in a union meeting. (See attachments 15, 16, and 17).