Yet another SEA victory!

Happy 2015, and welcome back! I hope that your winter break has left you rested and rejuvenated. I want to take time to sharewith you two more SEA victories that have recently occurred.

Under the previous administration, it was very clear that there was intent to diminish the power of SEA. There were numerous occasions where principals and administrators aggressively challenged the role and responsibility of SEA representatives with the hope of suppressing our ability to advocate for our students and ourselves. The district was sending the message that if you were involved with SEA in a leadership capacity, you could expect punitive treatment. Two cases typify this attitude, and both were taken to arbitration.

First was the case of our former president, Alex Anguiano, who after completing his term as SEA President was denied the right of return to his former site. Although there is specific contract language relating to the right of return, and while this has historically been the district's practice, Alex was forced to move schools.  We are proud to report that after taking this case to arbitration, the results were in favor of SEA and Alex. According to the ruling, SEA presidents do have the right to return to their previous site and position. This finding will protect the rights of all future SEA presidents, and ensure that their ability to fight for members is not diminished by a vengeful administration. Unfortunately, in this ruling the arbitrator allowed the district to postpone the remedy of returning Alex to his previous school until an opening in his subject matter presented itself. We continue to work to bring about a fair resolution of this issue. 

In a similar case, a long-time SEA Site Rep, Juan Gonzalez, from Montgomery High School, was subjected to an administrative transfer after insisting that his principal adhere to contract language regarding article 35.3, innovative scheduling, as well as challenging the administration on their handling of an emergency situation on site. Juan had been teaching at Montgomery for over 30 years, and had always had stellar evaluations and rapport with the staff and students; it was clear that he was transferred because he spoke out. The implication was obvious: if you are a rep who challenges the principal, there will be consequences. Unfortunately, the contract language on administrative transfers can be difficult to challenge. Article 36.4 states that a principal may request an administrative transfer for unit members, but that it must not be done in an "arbitrary or capricious manner." It has always been difficult to prove that an action was taken arbitrarily or capriciously, and so Juan's case was going to be difficult to win. Yet, after a year and a half of going through the grievance process, we are thrilled to report that the arbitrator ruled in SEA's and Juan's favor. Not only did Juan return to Montgomery, he also recovered the coaching position that he inappropriately lost when he was wrongfully transferred. More importantly, we now have concrete examples of what "arbitrary and capricious" looks like, particularly for those serving in a capacity as SEA representatives.

While we are certainly hopeful that with a new superintendent and school board, these types of vengeful and punitive actions against those serving in SEA leadership positions will no longer occur, we are grateful to Alex and Juan for helping secure the rights of all SEA members, and particularly those who serve as elected representatives.

Additionally, I would like to acknowledge Colleen Cooke-Salas, our Vice President and Grievance Chair, for the hard work and countless hours she spent fighting to win both of these cases.

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