September 11, 2003
Board of Directors of the Little Rock School District held a special session at
5:35 p.m. on Thursday September 11, 2003, immediately following the regularly scheduled agenda meeting, in the Boardroom of the Administration Building, 810 West Markham Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. President Judy Magness presided.
Morris L. Holmes, Interim Superintendent
Beverly Griffin, Recorder of Minutes
I. CALL TO ORDER
President Judy Magness called the special meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. and stipulated a quorum without roll call. All members of the Board were present.
II. PURPOSE OF THE MEETING
The printed agenda for the special meeting contained the following action items:
A. Personnel Changes
B. Review of PTAS – Attendance Component
C. Student Expulsion / Reinstatement Petition
D. Employee Hearing
III. ACTION AGENDA:
A. Personnel Changes
Beverly Williams presented a report of recommendations for personnel changes, including a proposed salary placement schedule for Interpreters and Instructional Assistants. Mr. Berkley made a motion to approve the personnel items as presented. Dr. Daugherty seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
B. Review of PTAS – Attendance Component
Sadie Mitchell and Lloyd Sain presented a recommendation for modifications to the Professional Teacher Appraisal System component related to teacher attendance. Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Sain reviewed the process used to develop the revisions and Board members questioned the need to revise the document they previously approved in May 2003.
Mr. Rose invited Katherine Wright Knight, CTA President, for her viewpoint on the changes. She noted that a committee of administrators and teachers had met over the course of two days to develop the changes, which would make the attendance component more acceptable to the CTA membership. The membership was scheduled to meet to review and approve the PTAS and she felt that without the changes to the attendance component, the evaluation instrument would not be accepted by the union membership.
Dr. Holmes recommended approval of the revisions. Dr. Mitchell made a motion to accept the recommendations presented by the administration. The motion died for lack of second.
The Superintendent asked the Board for guidance and further direction on moving forward with the PTAS process. After a lengthy discussion, the Board stated that there was no action necessary as the document was approved with an evaluation component in May and that their intent was for that document to stand as approved. Mr. Kurrus noted that the PTAS document was acceptable to the CTA when it was approved in May and that it was difficult to understand the need to water-down the attendance component. It was understood and agreed among the Board members at that time (May) that one of the most important incentives in the process of teacher evaluation was attendance. Several Board members spoke to the importance of having the teacher present in the classroom for optimal achievement by the students.
Prior to the Board going into an executive session, Dr. Mitchell presented Board President Judy Magness with a gavel in recognition of her service on the Board. Ms. Magness did not run for re-election, and this was to be her final meeting as a Board member. Dr. Mitchell expressed appreciation for Ms. Magness’ dedication, commitment and devotion to the children of the LRSD. Ms. Magness left the meeting at 7:00 p.m. Vice President Rose presided for the remainder of the meeting
C. Student Expulsion / Reinstatement Petitions
Mr. Rose moved for an executive session at 7:10 p.m. The motion was seconded by Mr. Berkley and passed unanimously.
Dr. Watson presented a petition for a student to enter the LRSD after being expelled from Catholic High School. The student was in the tenth grade at Catholic High and was expelled for harassing, tackling and swinging his belt towards other students. An incident at Catholic High had resulted in disciplinary action against several other students, but this was the only student who had requested placement in the LRSD.
Dr. Watson recommended enrollment and placement at the Alternative Learning Center for a minimum of one semester. After the probationary period, the student could qualify for placement in a regular school setting. Mr. Berkley made a motion to approve the administration’s recommendation for placement. Dr. Mitchell seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
D. Employee Hearing
The Board immediately convened a closed employee hearing. Attorney Jack Kearney represented the employee. Khayyam Eddings represented the LRSD.
A Department Director for the District recommended termination of an employee after a history of reprimands for tardiness, excessive absences, and suspicions of reporting to work under the influence of alcohol. He presented documentation of a specific instance where the employee’s behavior resulted in his referring her to the Safety & Security office for drug and alcohol testing.
The letter of termination from Interim Superintendent Don Stewart, dated June 16, 2003, recommended termination for 1) testing positive for alcohol and 2) refusing to take a drug test. The employee appealed the termination and has been on administrative leave since that time.
John Anderson and Bennie McDonald, Safety & Security officers for the District testified to their contact with the employee on June 12, 2003, the day she presented at the office of Safety & Security for the alcohol test. She was transported to Arkansas Medical Testing Laboratories where two alcohol breathalyzer tests were administered. The first one indicated a .039 rating; the second test indicated a .032. The lab report indicated that individuals who rate at .02 or greater are considered intoxicated and should not be allowed to drive, perform safety-sensitive duties, or operate heavy equipment. The employee would not sign or consent to drug testing.
The employee testified that she suffered from severe and chronic illnesses and that on the night prior to June 12, she had been ill and had trouble sleeping. She told the Board that she had prepared a ”toddy” which consisted of one shot of alcohol, honey, lemon and tea. She denied being intoxicated, and said that she drove herself to work and to the Safety & Security office when directed to do so by her department director.
The employee asked the Board to overturn the administration’s recommendation for termination. She stated that she was confident in her abilities to do her job and that she was a good employee. Her attorney, Mr. Kearney, argued that there were good reasons to find that the employee was not properly referred for testing and that she was being denied the opportunity to pursue her livelihood. He stated several incidents where proper documentation was not evident and stated that the department director was acting in bad faith to terminate.
The Board retired to deliberate at 8:50 p.m. and
returned to the boardroom at
9:00 p.m. Mr. Kurrus thanked the attorneys present, and stated that normally grounds for termination deserve that sanction. However, he made a motion stating:
“Rather than accept the administration’s recommendation for termination, we would ask that the employee be placed on a six-month strict probation. Any further violations of attendance policies, drug or alcohol abuse would result in termination.”
Mr. Berkley seconded the motion, and stressed that “any similar or continued behavior in violation of policies will result in termination.” He further remarked that everyone should be given the opportunity for documented progressive discipline.
The motion carried unanimously.
Dr. Mitchell stressed to the employee that she was being given an opportunity to have her job back, but that she would be expected to follow the rules and that any violation of District policies would result in termination. Dr. Mitchell also encouraged the employee to take advantage of all assistance available to her to maintain her health.
There being no further business before the Board,
the meeting adjourned at
9:15 p.m. on a motion by Mr. Kurrus, seconded by Mr. Berkley.
APPROVED: _ 09-25-03 __ Originals Signed by:
Tony Rose, Vice President
Larry Berkley, Secretary