MACE Baptizes Fulton's New Superintendent James Wilson

MACE "Baptizes" Fulton's New Superintendent James Wilson!

March 22, 2005

James Wilson
Fulton County Schools
786 Cleveland Avenue, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30315

Dear Jamie Boy:

Welcome to the Big Leagues. Now that you are superintendent (interim or whatever) of a large school system, you now will have an "out house" (as opposed to an "in house") law firm whispering directions into your novice ears at nearly every turn. These lawyers will remind you of potential liabilities and they might even show you cute ways to avoid the mandates of certain laws. I hope that this is not the case with your administration’s recent refusal to process the rather simple grievance filed by a teacher at xxx xxx Middle School against one of her assistant principals whom the teacher alleges unduly embarrassed her in front of the entire faculty. I hope that this Cobb County law firm (Brock Clay Calhoun Wilson & Rogers, P.C.) did not give you this ill advice. (I certainly don’t think that Fulton’s former counsel, Judy O’Brien of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, LLP, would offer such ill advice.) Perhaps this was truly the decision of Vickie Warren, Executive Director of Human Resources, or Randy Reece, Chief Human Resources Officer. At Randy’s request, I just recently wrote a two page letter to him (and copied you and the school board members), explaining in detail MACE’s position on the grievance law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.5 et seq.). (See attachment.) After sending this letter, you guys rather begrudgingly processed the grievance against Maureen Wheeler, principal at Palmetto Elementary School. However, when the grieving teacher and I showed up for the Level II Grievance Hearing, we encountered a rather myopic and petulant hearing officer who actually had the audacity to think that she could talk over me and keep me from entering procedural violations into the record. Needless to say, her intentions did not work. She immaturely and abruptly closed down the hearing when I refused to allow her to trample under her hoofs the rights of the teacher. Of course, the MACE Team proceeded to picket the principal and your administration at the school board meeting the next evening. It wasn’t a very pretty site, but MACE is not necessarily into prettiness. On the heels of that picket, xxx xxx received a letter from Vickie Warren wherein Vickie says that Fulton County was not going to process her grievance. Well, well...that’s just too bad for you and The Cobb Legion which is now running the Fulton County School System.

If you do not abide by the Georgia law relative to processing grievances filed by teachers, then we will use any legal means to embarrass you. I have found that embarrassment is the most effective way to make arrogant, cocky, and I’m-above-the-law type superintendents adhere to the mandates of the Georgia grievance law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.5 et seq.), and it is by far the most efficient way to get their attention. MACE does not make idle threats. Try us and see for yourself. In order to initiate the grievance process, the law only states that the teacher must put his or her grievance "in writing" and "state clearly the intent of the employee to access the complaints policy" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.8[1]). The statute further states that the teacher "shall be entitled to an opportunity to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witnesses at each level" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.8[4]). If you would actually take the time to read the law, you will find that there is no mention about impertinent and irascible central office administrators being able to arrogate themselves to the level of a judge and to make a ruling on a pleading -- or, just dismissing the grievance out of hand because they don’t think that the grievance is "appropriate." The only caveat in the law deals with filing a complaint concerning evaluations, job performance ratings, professional development plans, or hearings for termination, nonrenewal, demotion, suspension, or reprimand. Actions concerning a teacher’s certificate is also excluded from the grievance process (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.7[a]). Everything else is grievable if the teacher feels that he or she "is affected in his or her employment relationship by an alleged violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of statutes [regardless of how the statutes are written], policies, rules, regulations, or written agreements of the local unit of administration with which the local unit of administration is required to comply" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.6[4]; emphases and annotation added). The administration must at least hear the grievance. The immediate supervisor (at the lowest level) or the hearing officer (at the upper levels) can rule against the teacher in his or her written disposition. But, the administration cannot just whimsically decide that the grievance is not "appropriate" and thereby dismiss it before it is even heard. This type of action would give the administrator the power to simply wave a magical wand to dismiss any complaint which the administration felt was uncomfortable or annoying. Of course, I’m sure that you realize that this is what your jack-leg administration is trying to do. I realize that you are the fifth (5th) superintendent in two (2) years in Fulton County. However, we simply won’t stand by idly and allow your new administrative goons to decide that they simply are not going to process a grievance. We fought those battles before and we will fight them again, if that is what you want. What you do with a grievance from a teacher affiliated with GAE or PAGE is entirely up to you. I don’t care. But, we will fight like a Doberman when it comes to a MACE member having his or her rights violated.

The legislature included the following proviso in the grievance law: "Nothing in this part shall be construed to prevent a local unit of administration from adopting supplemental rules and policies not inconsistent with this part that grant additional substantive and procedural rights to the complainant with respect to this part" (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.9; emphasis added). The only matters that your administration can add to the mandates in the grievance law are the ones "that grant additional substantive and procedural rights" to the teacher filing the grievance. You can’t engage in some type of administrative hocus-pocus which enables the administration to conclude that it doesn’t have to hear the grievance.

Until now, we have been focusing a lot of our attention on the real "gangsta" system, the Atlanta Public Schools. But, if this latest episode dealing with xxx xxx grievance at xxx xxx Middle School is any indication of how your Carpetbaggers from Cobb County are going to operate, then perhaps we need to camp out some more in the illustrious Fulton County School System. It has always been our standard and consistent policy at MACE that once a school system violates the grievance law and refuses to process a private grievance, then MACE engages in very public pickets. One way or the other, we will be heard.



John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D.


xxx xxx, xxx xxx Middle School

William L. Woods, Esq., MACE

xxx xxx, Assistant Principal, xxx xxx Middle School

DeWitt Walker, Administrator, Fulton County Schools

Leonard Box, Administrator, Fulton County Schools

Gary McGibonny, Deputy Superintendent, DeKalb County Schools

Matthew C. Billips, Esq.

Fulton County Board of Education Members

Sonny Perdue, Governor

Thurbert Baker, Georgia Attorney General

Kathy Cox, Georgia Superintendent of Schools

Stuart Bennett, Chief Deputy State Superintendent

Stan Pritchard, Administrator, DeKalb County Schools

Donald Rooks, Georgia School Boards Association

Herb Garrett, Georgia School Superintendent Association

Dr. Floyd D. Toth, Professional Standards Commission

Gary Walker, Director of Education Ethics, PSC

Jim Wooten, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ken Foskett, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jeff Nesmith, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Paul Downsky, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sharon Pitts, Chief of Staff, Atlanta Public Schools

Dorsey Hobson, Staff Attorney, Atlanta Public Schools

Dr. Thelma Mumford-Glover, Atlanta Public Schools

David Brown, MACE Network Attorney

Sheryl D. Freeman, APS Employee Relations

Gary M. Sams, Clayton and DeKalb School Board Attorney

Randy Reece, Human Resources, Fulton

Dr. Barbara Pulliam, Superintendent, Clayton

Jack Warren, Central Office Administrator, Clayton

Crawford Lewis, Superintendent, DeKalb County Schools

Dr. Jim Williams, Deputy Superintendent (Ret.), DeKalb County Schools

Kelly A. Sherrill, Cobb and Fulton School Board Attorney

Glenn Brock, Cobb and Fulton School Board Attorney

Joseph J. Redden, Superintendent, Cobb

Harold Barnett, Superintendent, Marietta City

Alvin Wilbanks, Superintendent, Gwinnett

Trudy Sowar, Superintendent, Paulding

Dr. Jesse Bradley, Superintendent, Spalding

Raiford Cantrel, Superintendent, Gilmer

Dr. John DeCotis, Superintendent, Fayette

Dr. Jack Parish, Superintendent, Henry

Dr. Charles G. Larke, Superintendent, Richmond

Ruel M. Parker, Superintendent, Rockdale

John Phillips, Superintendent, Muscogee

James E. Humes, II, Muscogee School Board Attorney

Don Cooper, Human Resources, Muscogee

Tony Cook, Superintendent, Whitfield

Sharon Patterson, Superintendent, Bibb

Don Remillard, Superintendent, Douglas

Dr. Dennis Fordham, Superintendent, Hall

Carol Lane, Superintendent, Meriweather

Doug Day, Superintendent, Burke

Danny Carpenter, Superintendent, Houston

John Zauner, Superintendent, Carroll

Samuel Allen, Superintendent, Valdosta City

Thomas Wilson, Superintendent, Carrollton City

Blake Bass, Superintendent, Coweta

Dr. Frank Petruzielo, Superintendent, Cherokee

Dr. Dennis Chamberlain, Superintendent, Lamar

Dr. Florence Reynolds, Superintendent, Hancock

Albert Murray, Commissioner, GA Department of Juvenile Justice

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