Marshall County's school board has denied relief in two grievance cases that were presented this week at school headquarters.
To fit within the 10-day time limit specified in the contract, the board held a special-called meeting Tuesday night to formulate its responses.
More grievances are expected at the November school board meeting. It's been rescheduled to be Nov. 17, a Tuesday, so the board's attorney can attend.
Schools transportation s supervisor Michael Frey's grievance is based on his contention that he should be paid according to the supervisors' pay schedule that is part of the contract negotiated by the Marshall County Education Association.
Frey was transferred from his physical education teaching job at Westhills Elementary School to the school bus garage job on May 11 by then-schools director Stan Curtis.
Through Miley Durham of the Tennessee Education Association, Frey also claims he was missing opportunities for professional development, and was worried about losing his teaching license if he did not teach for a total of five years in the 10-year period of the license.
His fears were dispelled.
Frey may spend time away from his job at the bus garage for professional development, according to Roy Dukes, the interim director of schools. School board attorney Sam Jackson said that he had done some research on licenses for teachers in Frey's position. Jackson said application could be made to the state Education Department to have a teacher's license suspended for the period the person is out of the classroom. When the teacher returns to the classroom the same number of years remains on their license as they had when they left.
As for his pay, however, Jackson said the negotiated contract only applies to "professional employees," meaning those who are in jobs that require a license. Frey has a license, but his current position as transportation director does not require a license. Therefore, Jackson said, Frey is not protected by the negotiated contract.
"The contract states 'certified employee,'" Frey argued. "That's me. I'm just as important as the supervisors of maintenance and human resources."
Board member Craig Michael seemed sympathetic to Frey's grievance.
"This individual was involuntarily moved to an important position," he said. "He's not being compensated for work as a supervisor. This is not appropriate."
"It seems like this has been a problem since it happened," said Randy Perryman. "It would make sense to put Frey back in the classroom and post this position."
"We tried to prevent this months ago," said Curt Denton. "I don't know what to do."
Michael's motion to set the supervisor of transportation's salary at $61,000, in line with surrounding counties, failed for lack of a second, and there was a long silence.
"We're paying Mr. Jackson by the hour," Michael said.
"This," chairman Mike Keny said, "is serious. I appreciate the board's hesitancy. We need to uphold or over-ride the grievance."
Dee Dee Owens moved to deny Frey's grievance. Ann Tears seconded it and it was unanimously approved by the seven board members who remain after the resignations of Mark Wilkerson and Todd Tietgens.
"Out of a sense of fairness," Keny said, "I move to pay him according to the supervisors' schedule as worked out by Janet (Wiles, the schools' finance director)."
"Starting now, or retroactive?" asked Jackson.
"Retroactive to his first day," replied Keny.
Ann Tears reminded the board other positions in the system may not pay what's deemed appropriate.
Denton "would have to agree," he said. "There are others not up to this level either. It's not fair to them just because Frey brought a grievance."
Keny's motion failed.
Before discussing Frey, the board dealt with the Marshall County Education Association's grievance regarding the posting of positions.
"You need to decide to uphold or deny that grievance," Jackson advised.
After discussion, Tears moved to uphold the decision made by Curtis to deny the that grievance. Perryman seconded the motion; and it passed 5-1 with Michael voting no. Denton abstained.
While waiting for Jackson, who was delayed in traffic, the board filled the vacancy on their team that negotiates with MCEA. Denton, seconded by Owens, nominated Michael who agreed to serve, saying, "If that's the board's will, then I will serve, yes."
Kristen Gold voted against Michael, but the motion carried by five votes to one, with Michael abstaining.
It was agreed that the negotiating team would meet and choose a chief negotiator at that time. Michael filled this position during the negotiations of the first contract in the fall of 2008, but resigned from the team in April 2009.