“Over? Did you say this is over??? Nothing is over until WE say it’s over!”

Pat yourself on the back if you recognized that quote from Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House.  Perhaps the more famous part of the quote was the next line: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, No!”

This came to mind as I read the Commissioner’s decision in a grievance appeal from Grand Prairie ISD.  The district said that the employee’s grievance was “over” at Level One.  The district believed it had granted the relief requested, and so any further appeal would be moot.   The grievant’s response to that would have made John Belushi proud: “This isn’t over until I say it’s over!”

The Commissioner agreed with the grievant: the Level One decision was just like the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor. It didn’t end anything. 

Let’s back up and provide some context.  The grievant was laid off from her position as a non-contractual Office Manager in the Food Services Division.  The layoff was due to budget cuts, but the employee alleged that she was targeted because of her previous complaints about a hostile work environment and questionable billing practices.  She asked to be reinstated in “the same professional capacity” and to be relieved of any further contact with two named employees.

The Level One decision granted the relief requested….sort of.  The district offered her a position as Elementary Case Services Worker, which would keep her at the same pay and eliminate any contact with the two employees she wanted to avoid. The grievant accepted the new position. As far as the district was concerned, that ended the matter.  Thus when the employee took the grievance to Level Two it was denied, and the board declined to hear the case at Level Three. 

The Commissioner held that the district goofed.  Key Quote:

Respondent believes that Petitioner’s requested relief was granted because she was given a new position at the same pay as her previous position.  Although pay is an important factor, it is not the only factor that determines whether two positions are in the same professional capacity.  Duties and responsibilities must also be considered. Petitioner’s complaints about her current position concern the duties and responsibilities of her new position, and as such, related directly to her original grievance and whether her requested relief was granted. 

The Commissioner ordered the school board to grant the grievant a hearing.  There is one more aspect of this case that is worth comment, but we’ll save that for Wednesday.  The case is 032-R10-02-2020, decided by the Commissioner on July 24, 2020.  It’s DeLaGarza v. Grand Prairie ISD.


Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday