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Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Rights, Responsibilities and Advocacy Skills for Education Support Professionals.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Rights, Responsibilities and Advocacy Skills for Education Support Professionals."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Rights, Responsibilities and Advocacy Skills for Education Support Professionals Presented by Michael McGonigle, Legal Services Director and John Dobrenic, UniServ Director 2006 ESP Conference Macon, Georgia

3 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Legal Rights Bad news –Most classified employees are “at will” employees. Good news –You do have protections! In many cases, GAE UniServ Directors are able to protect at-will employees by informal advocacy, negotiation, and representation.

4 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Protections are from… School Board Policies State Statutes Federal Statutes Other

5 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. School Board Policies Grievance or complaints procedure Transfer policies Sexual harassment Safe working environment Leave provisions –Sick leave –Personal leave –Annual leave Other – You Decide!

6 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. School Board Policies – cont’d Availability –Central location at each worksite Usually the media center or principal’s office –Superintendent’s office –Online

7 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. State Statutes O.C.G.A , et seq. –Open Records Act Exempt information: –Home address and telephone number –Social security number –Insurance or medical information –Confidential personnel evaluations

8 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Personnel file… Personnel file includes all records, paper and electronic, pertaining to an employee kept by the executive officer or other employees in any storage area at school or central office. An employee or her representative upon request may review contents of her personnel file and receive copies.

9 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Personnel file, cont’d Employees can ALWAYS attach a written statement of explanation or rebuttal to any document contained in a personnel file. You should attach it to the document. There are no time limits involved.

10 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. State Statutes O.C.G.A , et seq. Georgia Open Meetings Law A school board may not close to the public any meeting devoted to the airing of grievances about school personnel by interested members of the public. Only the discussion and deliberation phase of the meeting may be closed. Moreover, the focus of the deliberation or discussion must be disciplinary action or dismissal, not merely a general exchange of information about a particular event. Source: Unofficial Opinion U

11 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. State Statutes – cont’d O.C.G.A –School assault sick leave provision –Applies to teachers or other persons subject to this statute –Seven days for free –O.C.G.A –Bus driver sick leave –Query assault sick leave provision –O.C.G.A –Bus driver personal leave

12 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. State Statutes… Sick Leave Bank O.C.G.A –Local board may establish policies and guidelines governing use and approval –Employees donate unused sick leave to bank –Generally provides sick leave for catastrophic illness –Only members of sick leave bank may utilize such leave

13 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. School Safety State Statutes… O.C.G.A : Expulsion and disciplinary policy for students bringing weapons to school. A student who brings a weapon to school shall be expelled for a period of not less than one calendar year. “Weapon” is a firearm as defined under federal law. Local board has the authority to modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis. Student may be placed in an alternative educational setting.

14 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. School Safety Statutes… O.C.G.A It is unlawful for any person to bring a weapon onto “School Safety Zone.” “School safety zone” means in, on, or within 1,000 feet of school property, campus, buildings, functions, bus. “Weapon” very broad definition Punishable by felony, up to $10,000 fine, imprisonment no less than 2 years nor more than 10, or both.

15 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. More Safety Statutes… O.C.G.A Student codes of conduct; safety rules on school buses; distribution. –Student codes of conduct shall address the following: Verbal assault – including threats of violence Physical assault or battery Disrespectful conduct Bullying Many more –Applies to all conduct including actions towards all school personnel and on the school bus.

16 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Student Disciplinary Orders – Right to Know O.C.G.A – Students subject to disciplinary orders of other school systems. Applies to: –Students who are enrolling or attempting to enroll Board may refuse to enroll or require completion of disciplinary order If the student has been convicted of or adjudicated to have committed an offense which is a designated felony act under O.C.G.A , all teachers and school personnel to whom that student is assigned shall be informed.

17 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Transfer Students with Felonies O.C.G.A – Transfer students who have committed a felony. Administrator shall inform all teachers to whom the student is assigned. Teacher may review the students file from the schools and juvenile courts.

18 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Physical Violence = Expulsion O.C.G.A Students who commit acts of physical violence against a school employee shall be expelled. Physical violence: –Intentionally making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature. –Physical harm to another unless in defense of himself or herself. Applies to teachers, school bus drivers, school officials, or school employees.

19 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Bullying Statute O.C.G.A – Bullying statute: three strikes and you are out! Bullying is: –Any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury when accompanied by an apparent present ability to do so. –Any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm. Applies to students in grades 6 – 12. After the third offense in the same school year, the student will be assigned to an alternative school. Penalty for noncompliance is loss of state funding.

20 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Protecting School Employees O.C.G.A – Penalties for disrupting public schools. It shall be unlawful for any person to disrupt or interfere with the operation of any public school, public school bus, or public school bus stop as designated by local school boards of education. Any person violating this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

21 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Protecting School Employees O.C.G.A – Persons other than students who insult or abuse school teachers drivers in presence of pupils may be ordered to leave school premises. Any parent, guardian, or person other than a student at the public school in question who has been advised that minor children are present and who continues to upbraid, insult, or abuse any public school teacher, public school administrator, or public school bus driver in the presence and hearing of a pupil while on the premises of any public school or public school bus may be ordered by any of the above-designated school personnel to leave the school premises or school bus. Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.

22 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Assault Against a School Employee O.C.G.A (f) - Any person who commits the offense of simple assault against an employee of a public school system of this state while such employee is engaged in official duties or on school property shall, upon conviction of such offense, be punished for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. For purposes of this Code section, "school property" shall include public school buses and stops for public school buses as designated by local school boards of education.

23 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Battery Against a School Employee O.C.G.A (i) - Any person who commits the offense of simple battery against an employee of a public school system of this state while such employee is engaged in official duties or on school property shall, upon conviction of such offense, be punished for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. For purposes of this Code section, 'school property' shall include public school buses and stops for public school buses as designated by local school boards of education.

24 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. State Statutes… Worker’s Compensation –School employees are covered –If you are injured at work during the performance of duties or when directed or requested by your employer to be company property Notify your supervisor Complete required forms Report to the school district’s doctor

25 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Code of Ethics Professional Standards Commission Standards –1: Criminal Acts –2: Abuse of Students –3: Alcohol or Drugs –4: Misrepresentation or Falsification –5: Public Funds and Property –6: Improper Remunerative Conduct –7: Confidential Information –8: Abandonment of Contract –9: Failure to Make a Required Report –10: Professional Conduct

26 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Code of Ethics Standardized Testing Traps Standard 4 Misrepresentation & Falsification: An educator should exemplify honesty and integrity in the course of professional practice –Cheating –Coaching, prompting –Changing answers

27 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Trap for the Unwary After administering the ITBS test, Ms. Smith told her paraprofessional that she was going to do something that she had never done in her 25 year career: change some of the answers on a child’s test from correct to incorrect. Ms. Smith acted not out of any desire to harm the child, but rather because the test was designed to establish entry into the gifted program. Ms. Smith sincerely believed that her student had simply guessed all the answers correctly and was not in fact gifted. Her principal issued a letter of correction and prohibited her from administering future standardized tests.

28 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Code of Ethics Standardized Testing Traps Standard 7 Confidential Information: An educator should comply with state and federal laws and local policies relating to confidentiality of student and personnel records, and standardized test materials –Copying test items –Leaving test materials unsecured –Discussing test items

29 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Trap for the Unwary Mr. Chan’s daughter, Charley, is in Ms. Able’s classroom. Mr. Chan is divorced. During the last conference, Mr. Chan attended it with his girlfriend, Baker, whom Able knows from church. Baker calls and asks Able for Charley’s ITBS test score. She has been helping Charley study for the ITBS test and wants to know if her efforts have paid off. Should Able tell Baker how Charley scored on the test?

30 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. More Code of Ethics, Standard 10 Professional Conduct: An educator demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards. Unethical conduct is any conduct that: –Impairs the certificate holder’s ability to function professionally in his or her employment position; –A pattern of behavior or conduct that is detrimental to the health, welfare, discipline, or morals of students.

31 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Trap for the Unwary During a state mandated standardized test, Ms. Starbucks needed to use the restroom. So Starbucks quietly left the classroom and went to the restroom across the hall. The students were left unattended for not more than two minutes.

32 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Education Support Professionals Dispute Resolution Procedures How would you resolve a dispute? Grievance policy examples from local boards of education Is it a Gripe? Is it a Grievance?

33 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Federal Statutes Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) –12 months/1250 hours –Up to 12 workweeks per year –District must hold position or substantially similar position and maintain health insurance –District can require use of paid leave –Notice by employee/medical certification –Intermittent leave allowed –Covers “serious health condition”

34 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Federal Statutes – cont’d Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ada.gov –Employers must provide a reasonable accommodations for persons with qualifying disabilities Disability must meet legal requirements Reasonable accommodations

35 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Federal Statutes – cont’d Title VII – Civil Rights Act of –Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin –Employer must be put on specific notice –Harassment must be pervasive and severe –Complaints must be filed within 180 days

36 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Federal Statutes – cont’d Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) –You must be paid when you do work for your employer –Overtime issues You must be paid overtime when working in excess of 40 hours per week –Pay period regulations You must be paid for the work you do on your paycheck for that pay period –Minimum wage requirement Must be paid the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. Deductions cannot be made that put you under minimum wage

37 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Common FLSA issues…. nload?p_file=F30725/WH1312.pdf 29 CFR Part 785 “Hours Worked” An employee cannot “volunteer” to do the same type of work for his employer that he normally performs. All work done must be compensated. Employees must be compensated for all “waiting time” unless the employee is completely relieved from all duty and is allowed to leave the premises and use the time as the employee sees fit.

38 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Common FLSA questions…. Bus drivers do not have to be paid for pre-trip and post-trip inspections? Bus drivers do not have to be paid for waiting time during field trips? Can a paraprofessional be directed to supervise the lunchroom after punching out for lunch? What about attending training as required by your employer? What about back pay?

39 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Federal Statutes – cont’d United States Constitution –Freedom of Speech Not absolute –Other “freedoms” Religion Press Association Petition

40 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Now what? If you think your rights are being violated, contact your UniServ Director for an evaluation. UniServ Directors work closely with the legal department. Organize!

41 Copyright (c) 2006 by the Georgia Association of Educators. All rights reserved. Conclusion Questions? Evaluations Thank you for coming!


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