From the BAR:
Under Board Policy 6220, Procurement, agreements and financial commitments over $250,000 require Board approval. While this agreement should not have been executed by a District staff member and implemented without prior Board approval, it is being brought to the Board for ratification at this time out of recognition of the legal difficulties in rescinding the agreement and recouping payment, as well as the importance of maintaining our positive relationships with Seattle Education Association (SEA) and our substitutes.My translation is that a single staff member took it upon his or herself to approve this spending and that, while that part was not legal, it was done as part of an agreed-to portion of the CBA and most of the money has already been distributed.
I think we can all understand that undoing it would not be helpful (in the name of strictly following policy.)
However, the BAR does not name the employee. Why not? This is just like the Garfield field trip incident to New Orleans where we don't get to know who the employee was who decided that Garfield's staff didn't need to know about previous issues with the problem student.
These people are operating under the authority of the district and we, as taxpayers, are paying them. Don't we get to know who they are or, at the least, know that they have been appropriated disciplined/reoriented on their duties?
So I'll say who it is - it was Geoff Miller, Deputy of Labor and Employee Relations. (One reader said it appeared Mr. Miller is leaving in September but I don't have verification of this.)
More from the BAR:
The District staff member apparently executed the Settlement Agreement without any prior notice or approval of any other District leadership member and it was not presented to the Board for approval prior to execution as required by Board Policy No. 6220.This narrative brings up another point. SEA knows the rules. They have lectured the Board on Board policies when they were not followed. And, yet nothing got said here.
During the final processing of the TRI payment called for by the agreement, it was discovered that the Settlement Agreement would cost the district $661,073 for the 2014-2015 and 2013- 2014 school year payments; and $105,425 for the 2012-2013 school year payments. The total financial commitment of the agreement as signed was thus $766,498.
More than $600,000 got paid out before the Assistant Superintendent for HR was notified or the Supeirntendent or Board. I'll be frank and I don't mean any disrespectful but I find it very difficult to believe that no one in senior management knew about this. That is a heck of a lot of money and it would seem that before that got spent, someone up the food chain would have to sign off on it.
The policy, according to this narrative, says that there IS a procedure with multiple steps and yet every step seems to have been ignored.
"...an existing procedure to staff that requires all settlement agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to be evaluated prior to execution.So are all those people involved in those steps going to be asked why they ignored them?
end of update
My e-mail to the Board:
I am being told that substitute teachers received this e-mail today from their leadership (bold mine:)
In last week's Unity, an update was sent out regarding our long standing grievance to ensure long term (90+ day) certificated substitutes receive TRI. The District recognized the arbitrary distinctions that discouraged substitutes from taking long-term assignments and agreed to pay TRI for these positions dating back to the 12-13 school year. The amount of the settlement on this issues was well above the $250,000 threshold that requires School Board approval.
We have learned from District leadership that the proper procedures for receiving Board approval did not occur. The District is going back to the Board to show the public the purpose of the agreement, and follow the procedure that follows Board policy, and honors transparency. For this reason, the final payment of the 12-13 school year back pay will not appear on paychecks until August 1st because this requires a Board vote which will take place on July 6.
This provides time for the Board to introduce the topic and amount to the public, and approve the settlement. Given the fact that this agreement mirrors the agreement we made in our new contract and addresses a clear inequity in the treatment of educators, we expect the Board will approve the settlement.
To this point, the total amount for the 13-14, and 14-15 TRI payments was $494,316. The District is still in the process of calculating the payments for the 12-13 school year.
This was a big win for our members! Thanks to all who worked to make this happen. We ask for your patience as the District works through this.
Peter Henry, SEA Substitute Association PresidentYou'll note that Mr. Henry believes this is all a done deal and that you WILL approve this spending...after the fact. (I note that he says it is in their contract and therefore, the district probably DOES owe the money. Why they didn't tell you and just pay it as they should is yet another mystery.)
What the district is saying is this:
SEATTLE–Seattle Public Schools is looking into a settlement agreement that a former district employee entered into with Seattle Education Association (SEA) for more than $500,000, and without superintendent or School Board approval. The agreement is related to long-term pay for substitutes, some of which has already been distributed.
The district will complete a review of how this occurred and continue legal assessment to decide a course of action. The district will provide updates as they become available.
I am asking you for a complete investigation into what the situation truly is.
- Was this "former district employee" an employee at the time this action was taken? If so, who was it? Ron English?
- The Superintendent will swear that neither he or any senior level management knew about this settlement?
- Some of the money already got sent out? I would like to know the amount and where it came from.
This is VERY serious. Because, if true, there is a breakdown at headquarters over your role. There are people who clearly think you have NO authority and that needs to stop. If the Superintendent did have a role that would then make it twice - the Gates Foundation grant being number one - that he has done something without your consent when it was required.
I myself find it hard to believe that $500K could be authorized out of the district without the Superintendent's knowledge or that of any senior staff.
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog