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Monday, December 8, 2014

HEMLOCK ON THE ROCKS: What Are My “Skelly Rights”?

HEMLOCK ON THE ROCKS: What Are My “Skelly Rights”?:

What Are My “Skelly Rights”?


What Are My "Skelly Rights"?
In the late '70's, the California Supreme Court established your "Skelly Rights." This means that public employees must be provided a "pre-disciplinary hearing" with management before they may be suspended (for five days or more,) demoted or terminated. The Court decided that this right is rooted in the federal constitution which says that a citizen cannot be deprived of property without due process.  In other words, when a governmental agency threatens to take income from one of its employees, this threat to his "property" requires due process.

The "Skelly Decision" comes from Dr. Skelly, an employee who worked for the state, who also had a three-martini-lunch habit.  After some significant performance problems, he was fired. He sued, and the resulting lawsuit, Skelly vs. the State of California, established the due process rights we know today. Basically, these say that an employee has the right to two levels of hearing: first, a "pre-disciplinary meeting" with the level of management proposing the discipline (The hearing officer must have the authority to modify or withdraw the discipline, but need not be an impartial third party).

The second step, if the matter isn't settled at the Skelly, is a "full evidentiary hearing before a reasonably impartial" third party.  This hearing involves witnesses, presentation of evidence, cross examination, etc -- very much like a court case. Most of the time, the impartial third party is an arbitrator or a panel, such as a Personnel or Civil Service Board.  However, it's legal for the City Manager to function as the hearing officer, so long as he or she has not already been involved in the case.
Many people think of the first hearing, "the Skelly" as a bit of a Kangaroo Court. After all, you are appealing to the level of management that has already decided to discipline you.  It is basically an opportunity to explain why the accusations are wrong, or why the "punishment" is too severe for the "crime."  But it IS a "pre-disciplinary safeguard:" the City cannot take action against you until it has heard your appeal and provided a written answer.

The City also must provide you with all information about the charges against you, prior to the hearing, so that you may intelligently defend yourself. A "notice of proposed disciplinary action" must include:

§         A statement of the nature of the proposed discipline

§         The effective date of the proposed discipline

§         The reasons for the discipline

§         The specific policy or rule violated

§         A statement advising the employee of the right to respond orally or in writing.
Skelly Rights Apply to all Permanent Public Employees. Even managers and confidential employees are covered by Skelly. If you belong to an employees association, your association is obligated to represent you. The only exception to this is that the group is NOT required to represent you through arbitration or a board hearing if a legal analysis recommends that your case "lacks merit;" in other words, if it is "unwinnable."  (An arbitration or Civil Service hearing can be expensive; your Association isn't obligated to drain its members' treasury to defend people who commit serious offenses, for which there's little defense…)

Skelly applies ONLY to Public Employees. The idea that government cannot take the "property" of your job applies only IF you work for government. California is an "at-will state." Unless they have a good union contract, employees at private companies can be fired without cause. Skelly Due Process is the primary legal distinction between public and private employees in California.
Although appealing to your own Management doesn't sound like much of a right, the Courts have bolstered your Skelly rights considerably over the last twenty years, and Management has become more respectful of the Skelly process. This is partly due to other employment laws which have sprung up since the 70's: discrimination, harassment, disability, wrongful termination, etc. Today there is a substantial industry of attorneys prepared to take your case if the City doesn't fire you for truly good reasons – or if it HEMLOCK ON THE ROCKS: What Are My “Skelly Rights”?:

YAY! Carl Petersen Qualifies for the March Ballot


Monday December 8, 2014
Contact: Carl Petersen
(818) 869-0309

Carl Petersen Qualifies for the March Ballot in LAUSD School Board Election

The Los Angeles City Clerk has completed its verification of the signatures that Carl Petersen submitted last week and qualified him for the ballot in the March election. He seeks to represent District Number 3 on the LAUSD's Board of Education, which includes most of the San Fernando Valley west of the 405 freeway and portions of Sherman Oaks, Studio City and North Hollywood. He will run with the Ballot Designation of "Businessman/Activist Parent."

"With the Miramonte sex scandal, MiSiS crisis and iPad scandal draining hundreds of millions of dollars from our children's educations, new blood is desperately need on the School Board," the candidate said. "As a father of four children enrolled in the district, I look forward to bringing a parent's perspective to the Board's proceedings and using my business experience to bring accountability back to the district."

The election will take place on March 3, 2015.

Carl Petersen is running for LAUSD School Board District 3 to give voice to the students, parents and teachers of the district. He is a father of five, including two daughters on the autism spectrum. With four children still enrolled in the district he understands the challenges facing the district and has a direct stake in seeing them addressed. He is currently the Director of Logistics for a manufacturer of security cameras in Glendale where he has been employed for the past nine years. For additional information please visit or call Carl Petersen at 818-869-0309.


Carl Petersen 
Candidate for Board of Education, District 3

Open Letter to Teachers Unions, Professional Organizations, and Teacher Education | the becoming radical

Open Letter to Teachers Unions, Professional Organizations, and Teacher Education | the becoming radical:


After speaking and guiding a workshop recently, I was struck by some distinct impressions I witnessed among several hundred educators.
First, although teachers and educational leaders coming to a conference are a skewed subset of teachers, I was impressed with their passion for teaching but more so for their students.
However, I must add that these teachers repeatedly expressed a lack of agency as professionals; a common refrain was “I [we] can’t,” and the reasons were administration and mandates such as Common Core (or other standards) and high-stakes testing. That sense of fatalism was most often framed against these teachers clearly knowing what they would do (and better) if they felt empowered, professionally empowered, to teach from their expertise as that intersects with their students’ needs.
This experience came just two weeks after my trip to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention, this year in Washington DC—where I presented on the value of books and libraries as well as delivering the Moment of History as the Council Historian. Again, I spent several days with a skewed subset of teachers, but there I would also characterize much of the talk as “I [we] can’t”—because of administration, because of Common Core.
I must admit that during my 13 years as a teacher educator, once our students enter the field of education, I listen as my highly motivated and bright young teachers begin to speak in “I [we] can’t,” often apologizing for essentially never being able to implement in their classes the many research-based practices and robust philosophies we explored when they were in methods courses.
Let me now highlight here that the first experience above was with all unionized teachers; the second example, withactive members of a professional organization; and the third, with traditionally certified teachers from a selective university and a highly praised and accredited program.
Earlier this year, Helen Klein reported:
American teachers feel stressed out and insignificant, and it may be impacting students’ educations.
Gallup’s State Of America’s Schools Report, released Wednesday, says nearly 70 percent of K – 12 teachers surveyed in a 2012 poll do not feel engaged in their work. The study said they are likely to spread their negative attitudes to co-workers and devote minimal discretionary effort to their jobs.
…When compared to 12 other occupational groups, teachers were least likely to report feeling like their “opinions seem to count” at work.
And thus, I have a very serious question:
If being unionized, a member of a professional organization, or certified results in teachers feeling the same powerlessness, the same lack of professionalism as most other teachers, how do teachers unions, professional organizations, and teacher education justify themselves?
I think this question is valid, and I think we now stand at a watershed moment for teachers unions, professional organizations, and teacher education. And I offer this hard and blunt question because, ultimately, I believe in thepromise of teachers unions, professional organizations, and teacher education as a discipline.
My first impression about this question is that far too often unions, professional organizations, and teacher education have failed teachers and education by racing to grab a seat at the table—eager to contribute to how to implement standards, testing, and bureaucracy. All three arenas of educational leadership have failed educator professionalism by rushing to participate within the partisan political accountability movement over the past thirty years.
Leadership from unions, professional organizations, and teacher education has been overwhelming as fatalistic as the teachers I described above; diligently compromising, eagerly complying, breathlessly trying to excel at accountability and bureaucracy—in effect, leading by following.
If we return to what we know about how teachers feel, Klein noted the ultimate danger of a lack of teacher professionalism:
“The problem is that when teachers are not fully engaged in their work, their students pay the price every day,” says the report. “Disengaged teachers are less likely to bring the energy, insights, and resilience that effective teaching requires to the classroom. They are less likely to build the kind of positive, caring relationships with their students that form the emotional core of the learning process.”
And thus, compliant, fatalistic educational leadership feeds compliant, fatalistic teachers—failing the most important aspect of universal public education, students.
Instead of challenging the assumption that public education needs accountability based on standards and high-stakes testing, unions, professional organizations, and teacher educators have mostly focused on helping teachers navigate each new round of standards and tests—even praising each new round despite no evidence that standards and testing work (or are in any way address the real roots of educational inequity).
Too often, that same pattern has occurred with value-added methods for teacher evaluation and calls for reforming teacher education. [1] The responses have been about implementing policies slowly so they can be done correctly—not substantive rejecting of deeply flawed policy and the dismantling of teaching as a profession.
I do not discount that a powerful consequence of high-stakes accountability is that educators and educational leaders are on the defensive, often frantic because a failure to comply with flawed policy can result in serious consequences—risking funding, lost jobs, ruined careers even.
However, the exact reasons that teachers unions, professional organizations, and teacher education should matterare the antidotes to remaining trapped in a state of frantic reaction: Collective and professional noncooperation with any policies not supported by the knowledge-base of the field of education and the established norms of professionalism.
So this is my point: Teachers unions, professional organizations, and teacher education have a duty to their own existence and to teachers as well as the field of education; that duty includes no longer fighting for a place at the education reform table, no longer putting organizational leadership and bureaucracy before the integrity of education as a discipline and a profession.
As English educator and former NCTE president Lou LaBrant announced in 1947: “This is not the time for the teacher of any language to follow the line of least resistance, to teach without the fullest possible knowledge of the implications of his medium.”
As James Baldwin declared in Nobody Knows My Name: “The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now.”
This is about time. It is time to set aside the failed pursuit of accountability, the corrosive insistence on rigor, and the dehumanizing commitment to standardization.
It is time that teaching reclaim its rightful place as a profession, setting the table for how teachers teach, how students learn.
It is time leaders in teachers unions, professional organizations, and teacher education lead by leading.
[1] We do have examples of resistance, although too rare; see this response to NCTQ by NCTE.

Charters and $$$$: Has anyone seen anything like this? | Cloaking Inequity

Charters and $$$$: Has anyone seen anything like this? | Cloaking Inequity:

Charters and $$$$: Has anyone seen anything like this?

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Has anyone seen anything like this? Charter requiring parents to pay $$$$ in lieu of required volunteer hours. In the words of Jerry McGuire:
Show me the money!
Apparently the California Charter School Association hasn’t heard of such a thing happening in practice or charter school policy, even though Public Advocates delivered the evidence to the public via parent whistleblowers and publicly available policy documents. Public Advocates’ report documented its year-long investigation into an inequitable and illegal practice by some of California’s charter schools, and calls for charter schools to end requiring payment in lieu of volunteer hours. Public Advocates is demanding that the state take immediate action to stop the practice and increase its oversight of charter schools more generally.
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Of course we know that there are lots of bad apples in the charter movement. The way that charters have used to limit equity and access have been discussed extensively on Cloaking Inequity. (For all posts on charters click here). See for example Breaking News: Kevin Welner’s Charter School Dirty Dozen and Colonizing the Black Natives: Reflections from a former NOLA Charter School Dean of Students and Don’t Trust Charters More than a Sweaty Used Car Salesman (A Citizen Research Template) Do I believe that ALL charters are bad apples? No. For example see The Gem on the Hill: How to Create a Community-Based In-District Charter However, based on my peer reviewed research on charters over the past five years, I posit that Travis Heights is the exception, not the rule.
Back to Show me the Money!… The San Francisco Chronicle covered the Public Advocates report:
At least 170 California charter schools are violating the state Constitution by requiring parents to volunteer up to 100 hours a year if they want their kids to participate in field trips and other activities or remain enrolled in the school, according to civil rights lawyers in a report released Thursday.
A survey of 555 California charter schools — about half of all charters in the state — found that nearly a 
Charters and $$$$: Has anyone seen anything like this? | Cloaking Inequity: