Well, what an interesting morning!
I attended the open Level III grievance meeting held in the board room of Victoria Independent School District. This was my first time for being in the audience of such a meeting, so I paid close attention to all the rules and regulations. Turn off cell phones, pagers, etc. Find a seat and wait for the action to begin. Once the board members entered, DJ was escorted up front by her husband. She sat facing the board with the representative from her teachers' union. (I didn't know why she didn't have legal counsel with her, advising her and presenting her case. If she had a lawyer, then would have been the time to bring one with her, in my opinion.)
The School Board President was very clear with her explanations of why the meeting was an open meeting and what behavior was acceptable. DJ and her union representative had requested an open meeting and because of that, no mention of any names or identifying of students in any form would be allowed. The consequences for even implying identifying comments would be a warning and if any names would be mentioned, the hearing would be ended. Very clearly, the students and their families' identities would be protected by the Board. All parties indicated that this was understood and compliance would be forthcoming.
Everything went well for the next few minutes, until the quesiton was asked, "Do you know why all this came about, Mrs. Jaynes?" She turned to her union representative and asked, "Can I say a name?" He gave his permission and she said, "The issue started with [insert name here].." Gavel came down and the Board President stopped DJ in her tracks. No amount of apologies from her union representative could "unring the bell". He said, "I didn't think you meant the family of the girl." What? Are you kidding me?
Wait, it only gets better.
Then the union representative passed out papers to the board. The Board President got her paper and she then admonished him, as it had the same names on it. His excuse, "I didn't pass those out to the audience and we aren't saying the name." The Board President told the board members to hand her the papers and one board member wadded up his paper and throw it across the table. Gasps of unbelief rippled through the audience when the board member displayed his immaturity level, but wait, his immature actions were just getting started. (You better have some soda to wash down your popcorn, now, 'cause we have a bit to go.)
*When the union representative was explaining that there are only eleven students at Mitchell for PE, that is a lie. There are over a hundred students there.
*When the union representative stated that there was already a PE teacher there, that isn't true, either. The man who goes there for a couple of hours a day has a full-time job in VISD and he is filling in there.
*When the union representative stated how much DJ makes and how long she has taught, it just takes simple math to figure out that if she retired, she would still be making more than a first year teacher makes a year.
Finally, the attorneys for the school district briefly spoke. They made it clear that in the contract, it is stated that ANY teacher can be reassigned at ANY time by the superintendent. No reasons are needed and the board does not make that decision. When a teacher signs yearly contract that is something that is agreed upon.
Since DJ had some time left, she was asked if she wanted to speak. Straining my ears, I heard something like, I've always been told that I've done a wonderful job and there's never been any problems. That was the core of what she said, and people in the audience believed her. Well, most of the people did, but some of us know the truth and the trouble she has caused.
A call for a vote and a second started the Board's discussion. The same board member who crumbled the offending paper turned to DJ and her union representative, "I've been contacted by all members of this discussion. I am excusing myself from the vote, but before I do," he swiveled in his chair and faced DJ, "I want to say, HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU!" [I had to come back and correct the quote, as I remembered it slightly different. So here's the correction.] He got up and left the room. Some people clapped. I don't know why they applauded, whether it was because he said what he did or because he left. By this time, I needed a program to keep up with the players.
Discussion started among the board members about the issues and THEN an audience member shouted from the back, "Since, Mr. Klimist has left..." and before the sentence could be finished, the Board President brought the room back to order. She said that audience participation would not be tolerated. A few mumbles from the back and everyone got quiet.
Discussion from the board members went on for a few minutes with admonishments from one concerning immature behavior of crumpling paper, throwing paper and speaking of children's names when told not to. Being an example to our children was the goal of this board member. Little late in this meeting. Finally, a vote was called and all present board members voted to uphold the reassignment of DJ.
DJ left the room, while cards, memory books and other gifts were thrust at her by her followers. Her grandson escorted her from the room. Her daughter, son-in-law, husband, family members led the way out of the way, The police had to clear the entry way of the building, as the grief-stricken seem to lose the ability to put one foot in front of another and walk any further.
The weepy girls were watching, listening and glaring throughout. "DJ's Warriors" shirts were in abundance, which made me wonder if the girls would be getting detention for skipping school. As I made my way down the steps, zig-zagging around the girls, I heard one proud girl say, "And that woman who led the meeting, she was such a bitch." No, Sweetie, she wasn't a bitch, she was a great example of how a person conducts a meeting that could turn nasty very fast. Just because your "cause" lost, your leader broke another rule and she wasn't allowed to get away with it, that doesn't mean the person who conducted the meeting had a hidden agenda. The rules were laid out and the Board President was very professional in her role.
Good for you, Ms. President. You took the "wet dynamite" issue and handled it with a calmness that allowed justice to be done.