Grievances, Tribunals, Letters, Rebuttals, Hearings, & More!

Grievances, Tribunals, Letters, Rebuttals, Hearings, & More!

When an uninformed person peruses MACE’s website, TheTeachersAdvocate.Com, they might get the impression that the main thing that MACE does for teachers is picket. Well, that conclusion would be totally erroneous. The pickets actually do not take up more than 1% of the time that the MACE staff devotes to its members. Because of confidentiality, MACE refrains from broadcasting its services and exploits for its individual members. One of the main areas that MACE assists its members is in the writing of rebuttals to skewed, jaded, and inaccurate evaluations. So many administrators use the evaluation process in a manipulative, punitive, and retributive manner. It is used to control teachers, to shut them up, to take teachers down a notch or two, and/or to set up teachers for termination. MACE has a reputation for writing searing, acerbic, and poignant rebuttals and letters on behalf of its members. The administrators must be trained when it comes to messing with a MACE member. The administrators soon realize that if they attempt to use the evaluation process to mess with a MACE member, then MACE will assist that member in drafting a response which will expose the administrator to his/her administrative superiors and to school board members. The administrators have to be trained like dogs.

Each week, several letters emanate from the MACE Office. Some of these letters come from MACE’s staff attorney, William L. Woods. Some are written by Dr. John Trotter, and some are signed by the teachers themselves. The MACE Office is a veritable letter-rebuttal writing factory. The letters are of the highest quality, without a grammatical or syntactical error. (Note: At the end of this article, two letters written to the same principal by different teachers [both teachers’ names have been changed to "Jane Doe"] are presented only as examples of a MACE-type letter. MACE forwards these letters to the principal’s bosses [including the superintendent] and to the members of the board of education.)

MACE in all likelihood files more grievances than all the other organizations (GAE, PAGE, and AFT) combined. Presently, MACE has a slew of grievances filed in the various school systems in Georgia. This past Friday, a Level II hearing was called off in DeKalb County before the school system reached a settlement with which the MACE teacher-grievant was happy. Several other teachers in DeKalb are still being assisted and represented by MACE, as well as in other school systems. The Atlanta School System is used to kicking around the other organizations and just refusing to process grievances. But, Atlanta realizes that if it does not process the MACE greivances, then MACE "nuts up" on Atlanta, causing much more grief for them than processing the grievance itself. Dr. Trotter quips, "I make’em an offer that they can’t refuse." MACE is now beginning the training process for Fulton’s new superintendent, James ("Jamie Boy") Wilson. Dr. Trotter states: "We’ll train him. We’ve trained dozens of superintendents. He’s from Cobb County, and those guys tend to be a little arrogant. But, he’ll realize real soon that’s it’s in his best interest to comply with the grievance law."

The large school systems don’t like to comply with the grievance law. They like to intone from on high that a matter is not grievable. But, O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.5 et seq., the law that governs greivances in the public schools of Georgia, does not permit school officials to make a ruling on the pleading. They must first hear the grievance. The teacher is "entitled to an opportunity to be heard, to present relevant evidence, to examine witnesses at each level" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.8 [4]). Just like MACE’s reputation for having a "wicked pen," MACE also has the reputation for "kicking butt" in a grievance hearing. Dr. Trotter is known for his "thorough and sifting cross examination" (to borrow a phrase used by the courts). This coming Monday (March 29, 2005), Dr. Trotter will be representing a gentleman in a hearing before the Muscogee County Board of Education. The school system attempted to thwart this grievance, but it has inexorably worked its way to the board of education level. Had this gentleman still relied on PAGE, he would still be getting jerked around. This grievance involves disparate and inequitable treatment. There’s another MACE grievance working its way up the ladder in Muscogee County. This grievance involves a teacher who was embarrassed by her principal in front of the entire faculty. This lady wants her "day in court" (so to speak). She’ll get it -- or the principal and superintendent will get a good, juicy MACE picket in a high profile location in downtown Columbus, Georgia. That’s an offer that they can’t refuse. Either way, the teacher’s grievance will be heard!

This past week, William Woods, MACE’s Staff Attorney, represented a teacher at Hamilton Holmes Elementary School in Fulton County in a student tribunal. The student was found guilty of committing battery against the teacher. In another recent physical attack by a student against a teacher, Mr. Woods represented a teacher at Stone Mountain High School in a proceeding before the DeKalb County Magistrate Court. Before the hearing began, the student’s attorney approached Mr. Woods, stating that the student wanted to admit guilt and to work out a plan of action (anger management classes, alternative school, etc.) for the student. The teacher was vindicated and was pleased with the outcome. These types of legal representations take place regularly, in addition to hearings for job actions against the teachers.

Tomorrow, MACE will be picketing at Clayton’s Forest Park High School where three students physically attacked a teacher. [This picket was broadcasted on WSB-TV for several days. The superintendent showed up at the school on the afternoon of the picket.] The following day, MACE will launch another juicy picket at Fallujah High School (aka Atlanta’s Douglass High School). There have been accusations of cheating on standardized tests at this school. The treatment of teachers is unconscionable. MACE has assisted teachers in the filing of several greivances and several complaints to the Professional Standards Commission. In a Level III Grievance hearing, MACE’s Dr. John Trotter took Eldrick Horton, Douglass High’s principal, to the woodshed (so to speak). Any other so-called teacher’s union would have thrown its hands up in disbelief at the way teachers are summarily mistreated. However, MACE is not like wimpy groups like GAE and PAGE. MACE has a warrior mentality. MACE keeps fighting when other groups lose heart. MACE wears down its opponents through sheer grit and determination.

In April, MACE will conduct its third picket in a year at Atlanta’s Brown Middle School. The administration appears to "learn dumber" at that school. The complaints at that school seem more numerous than the stars in the sky. The administration is arrogant and haughty. When situations like this are so egregious, nothing is more appropriate than a good, juicy MACE picket to bring attention to the administration’s antics.

Also in April, MACE will "baptize" the new principal of DeKalb’s King High School, Sylvestor Nelloms. On Tuesday, March 29, 2005, Dr. Trotter will travel to Columbus, Georgia, along with Vice Chairman Dennis Yarbrough and Field Director Norreese Haynes, to represent a gentleman before the Muscogee County Board of Education. On March 30, 2005, the MACE Raiders will "baptize" Fulton County’s new superintendent, James ("Jamie Boy") Wilson of Cobb County, on Cleveland Avenue. He’ll begin to realize that when a teacher at Elkins Pointe Middle School files a grievance against an assistant principal, then the Fulton County administration had better process the grievance post-haste.

When you see a lot of picketing pictures on TeachersAdvocate.Com or in MACE’s newsletters, don’t conclude that this is all that MACE does. This is just one of many things that MACE does. One of the more unglamorous things that MACE does is field scores and scores of calls each week, offering advice and assistance to stressed-out and nervous teachers. Letters, grievances, hearings, interventions, tribunals, etc., follow. Picketing is the more glamorous of the activities. Pickets get results. Administrators hate them. Teachers love them. But, the only group that does them is MACE!

Below are a couple of letters sent this shool year to one middle school in DeKalb County. We changed the teachers’ names to "Jane Doe." We also changed the principal’s name to "John Doe." The students’ names were changed. We offer these two letters as samples of the type of letters which are drafted at the MACE Office.

                                                                 March 23, 2005

 

March 9, 2005

Mr. John Doe
Principal
DeKalb Middle School
XXXXX, GA 300XX

Dear Mr. Doe:

I would be in shock if I were not already numb by your apparent insensitivity and abject unprofessionalism as an educator, let alone as the educational leader of a school. But, since I have observed your regular intemperate outbursts, demeaning and harassing treatment of me in front of students and parents, and your twisting of reality to try to make yourself look good, I am more bemused than shocked at your latest diatribe against me. But, more than bemused, I am also disgusted at your brusque, rude, and repugnant conduct.

This latest episode in your continuing saga of allowing students to curse and physically attack teachers with impunity involved a student whose name will simply remain in this correspondence as "Andrea." On Friday, February 25, 2005, Andrea refused to take her cell phone ear plugs out of her ear. She had her cell phone in her hand. I kindly requested that she take the ear plug out and to put up her cell phone. She refused. That’s right -- refused. I then asked her to give it to me. But, not only was she impudent and defiant but she also exclaimed: "I ain’t giving you nothing, you damn bitch! You can write it down. She [switched to third person as she began to make a speech to the entire class] can jot it down. My mama ain’t going to do nothing to me. She ain’t going to listen to nothing you say, you damn bitch!" Yes, this is what sweet Andrea said and did. Throughout the next week, she continued to disrupt the class concerning the incident above. Even though I had referred this incident to the office, Assistant Principal Craft still had not done anything concerning the incident. Instead, he began to investigate me. I guess it’s much easier for you and Mr. Craft to simply blame the teacher for such profane, crude, and outrageous behavior than to forthrightly address the out-of-control behavior of these defiant and disruptive students. You can usually intimidate most teachers enough to cause them to be so afraid to report such unconscionable incidents. Hence, it is then easier for you to sweep this filth under the proverbial rug. I’m sorry, Mr. Doe, but I still have a spine in my back. Like Dr. King use to say, a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. I will continue to conduct myself according to professional and ethical standards, but I’m not bending my back for you, Mr. Craft, or any other person in DeKalb, Northern Nepal, or North Korea. Life is more than just breathing air. Life without integrity is really not a life worth living. I don’t know what universe you’re living in but in my universe, it is not o.k. for a child to openly curse a teacher in front of an entire class. It is not o.k. for students to physically hit, shove, and brush up against a teacher. All of these things have happened to me under your tutelage. And, it’s done with near impunity. In an Orwellian twist, the teacher is actually indicted and tried for the students’ outrageous misconduct.

On Thursday, March 3, 2005, Andrea announced to me in front of the entire class: "My mama’s coming up here today to cuss you out, and she’s going to get you. We’re going to meet with Mr. Doe today." You did indeed call me to your office at or about 3:00 p.m. Without prior warning, while Andrea and her mother were sitting in the conference room along with Mr. Craft, you informed me that we were going to have a meeting. You proceeded to allow Andrea and her mother to monopolize and control the meeting. They put forth lies, innuendoes, and half-truths. For example, the mother said that I hadn’t communicated with her. But, in the meeting, I reminded her of the several times when we had communicated. I even reminded her that I had called her at her job at Sears. The parent claimed that she hadn’t seen a progress report. But, I had already sent her two progress reports. Andrea has shown no interest in learning. She rarely ever even brings a book to class. She’s failing all of her core subjects, but her mother claimed that she was failing only my class. This was a very classic case of an irate and irresponsible parent seeking to displace the blame of her defiant and disruptive daughter’s failures on the teacher(s). But, the most bizarre and amazing part of this story, is that you actually gleefully and ruefully side with this type of parents and students with all due alacrity. Not only in this Incompetent Administration 101, it is also just plain inhumane treatment. To take the word of a rather miscreant student and her obviously irresponsible parent above a professional educator is exactly and precisely how not to run a school. It is an egregious violation of a cardinal rule for managing a school. But, because of your youth, inexperience, and immaturity, you have committed grievous errors in judgment, and have apparently chosen to engage in a continual series of reprisals against me for filing the grievance against you for your refusal to adhere to the law in establishing tribunals for students who engage in assaults and/or batteries against teachers (O. C. G. A. 20-2-753). The grievance law itself prohibits reprisals against a teacher who files a grievance against a principal (O. C. G. A. 20-2-989.8[11]). In fact, I’ll be filing a complaint to the Professional Standards Commission against you, as directed by the law O. C. G. A. 20-2-989.8(11).

Concerning your bogus claim that I refused to print Andrea’s grades for her mother: This is a disgraceful distortion of what happened. I simply told you that I couldn’t retrieve them from a computer in the front office; I had to retrieve them from the computer in my room. Also, it was you, not me, who was yelling and hollering. I was merely standing my ground as I was forced to defend myself against your spurious attacks. I was attempting to explain the situation to you. But, I guess that the end of my sentences kept interrupting the beginning of your sentences. I presume that you have the positional authority to engage in a verbal stampede, trampling under your hoofs my every attempt to explain the reality of the situation. Alas, I should have known by now that at DeKalb Middle School there is a very low premium on reality.

To this day, apparently nothing has happened to Andrea for calling me a "damn bitch." But, then again, apparently nothing was done to Shaniqua for telling me in front of the class, "Fuck you, bitch." I guess you can somehow construe that Shaniqua was justified in stating, "Fuck you, bitch." But was it my fault that Shaniqua got into a food fight in the lunch room and in a knock-down-drag-out fight with another girl after school. Both of these incidents took place yesterday. Somehow, I just don’t think that I am the one to be blamed for her telling me, "Fuck you, bitch." Finally, the young man who has engaged in battery against me on two occasions this year is still in my classroom. I am officially requesting that he be removed from my class, as is my right under O. C. G. A. 20-2-737, 738. I expect you to follow the law in this matter.

Please attach this official response to your memos of March 4, 2005.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

c. John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D., MACE
   
William L. Woods, Esq., MACE

 

December 7, 2004

John Doe, Principal
DeKalb Middle School
XXXXX, GA 300XX

Dear Mr. Doe:

I am in receipt of your farcical and fanciful "Professional Development Plan" dated December 6, 2004. If I had not witnessed such incompetent and unconscionable actions from you and your administration this year, I would be shocked that you have deigned to blame your abject shortcomings on me. But, I am more bemused than shocked at this audacious move on your part. I presume that some people see audacity as a virtue. In this case, it is a tragedy.

It is tragic that you allow students, with virtual impunity, to engage in assault and battery against professional educators. And, of course, students attacking students is a regular happening at DeKalb Middle School. I, and other teachers, have reported such attacks to you, and you have steadfastly refused to abide by the Georgia laws which directs you to refer these matters to a student disciplinary tribunal (O.C.G.A. 20-2-751.5 et seq.). You have this smug, cavalier attitude that apparently doesn’t want to be bothered by mundane matters like the Georgia Statutory Code. You don’t even bother to attempt to sweep such dastardly deeds under the proverbial rug; rather, you are contemptuous toward the "bearers of bad news," the teachers themselves. In fact, when I reported to you that one young man pushed the desk so hard onto my leg that it caused an immediate welt and bruise, you simply looked at the bruise (which had turned black) and laughed. You actually laughed. The law says that all I have to do is to allege that an assault and/or battery was inflicted upon me by a student (O.C.G.A. 20-2-753 [a][1]). The law further states that "[a]ny student alleged to have committed an act of physical violence shall be suspended pending the hearing by the tribunal" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-751.6 [b]). Mr. Doe, if you intend to be a principal in the public schools of Georgia, you really ought to familiarize yourself with the laws of Georgia. The people of Georgia, through their elected representatives, have placed a premium scrutiny on those students with the temerity to engage in assaults and/or batteries against teachers. Your attitude concerning school violence is apparently one hundred and eighty degrees different from the attitude of the people of Georgia as reflected in the enacted legislation. I’m quite confident that the average parent in the DeKalb Middle School Community would be appalled if they knew that their community school was replete with violence.

Concerning my "cooperative work" with administrators and colleagues as well as my "discipline intervention strategies": All of this educationese is a red herring, an attempt to distract me and others from the real issue at hand. That issue is your refusal to discipline the students who are out-of-control. By "out-of-control," I mean those students who now realize that they can beat upon fellow students and teachers without serious consequences. You have consistently refused to refer these students to the tribunal process, even after you were provided a copy of the law concerning the mandated tribunals for such alleged violence. Again, all a teacher has to do to invoke the required tribunal process is to allege that the violence took place. You have impudently and flagrantly snubbed this law. No, the issue is not my behavior. It is your behavior. You have not conducted yourself according to the law. In fact, along with this letter being sent to the school board (as required by O.C.C.G. 20-2-753 [b]), I intend to file a complaint with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission concerning your flagrant violation of Georgia law.

For the record: I haven’t had any problem working "cooperatively" with anyone on the staff at DeKalb Middle School. You only cited me for this because I have refused to become a grovelling idiot relative to your refusal to abide by Georgia law. I am a professional educator who expects my principal to govern himself according to the law. I don’t have a problem with classroom management. I have a problem with your allowing violent thugs to remain in the regular classroom environment. Their determination to materially and substantially disrupt the learning processes of the children who want to learn should not be tolerated. We have a duty to those students who come to school with a desire to learn, not to those who are determined to disrupt and create havoc. These latter "students" have to be dealt with in a manner that communicates to them the seriousness of their offenses. This can only be done by dealing with them according to the law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-751.5 et seq.).

Please attach this official rebuttal to the aforementioned "Professional Development Plan."

Sincerely:

Jane Doe

c. John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D., MACE
    
William L. Woods, Esq., MACE

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