Aiea High School
98-1276 Ulune Street, Library
Aiea, Hawaii 96701
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
1:00 p.m.

Brian De Lima, Esq. Chairperson
Hubert Minn, Vice Chairperson
Patricia Bergin
Bruce Voss, Esq.
Grant Chun, Esq., ex officio
Kenneth Uemura, ex officio

Margaret Cox
Jim Williams

Stephen Schatz, Deputy Superintendent
Barbara Krieg, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Human Resources
Alison Kunishige, Board Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Summer Jenkins

I. Call to Order

The Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) meeting was called to order by Committee Chairperson Brian De Lima at 12:59 p.m.

II. Public testimony on Committee agenda items

Committee Chairperson De Lima called for public testimony. There was no testimony at this time.

Written testimony was received and provided to the Committee. The following is a listing of the people who submitted written testimony before the testimony deadline.

Agenda Item
Vanessa Ott
Member of the Public
IV. A. Quarterly Update on pending cases of Department of Education employees on DDL or LPI

III. Approval of Meeting Minutes of June 21, 2016

The Human Resources Committee’s minutes of June 21, 2016 were approved as circulated without objection (Uemura/Voss).

IV. Discussion Items

Barbara Krieg, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Human Resources, stated she had given a number of updates to the Committee and plans to continue providing updates on a quarterly basis, as directed by the Committee. Krieg shared background information, covered the definitions of DDL and LPI, and provided a brief history of the process for the benefit of new Committee Members. Krieg stated that the Department of Education (“Department”) continued to make improvements since the last update. The Department had 34 pending cases as of July 1, 2016 in the investigation and decision making stages. Krieg showed a list of the cases categorized by the type of employee and proposed action. The length of the process varies depending on the nature of the case, type of employee, and disciplinary action. Krieg provided an update on the aging of cases from when employees were put on leave to when the cases were closed and shared data showing that the majority of cases are resolved in less than six months. As of July 1, 2016, there were 20 cases open for less than six months, 10 cases open for under a year, and four open for over a year. Krieg shared more data showing that there were no cases in the investigation stage of the process for more than a year. As of July 1, 2016, there had been one case in the investigation stage for longer than six months. Krieg explained that there are often delays in the process during the summer months because individuals involved in the investigation may be inaccessible. Krieg shared another set of data showing cases in the decision making phase. Krieg stated that the data reflects the Committee’s previous request for categorization in smaller increments of time. Only one case had been in the decision making phase for over a year. Krieg presented a sanitized list of all pending cases showing the title, age, generic allegations, and stage of each case. Krieg stated that the list is available to the public online, but individuals involved in the cases are unidentifiable. The Department continues to work on improvements with fewer cases pending and better timing of the process. Krieg stated that a comprehensive investigations manual was distributed to staff, and training was offered to further improve the process. The Department is in the final stages of the consent and confer process with the unions for procedures for an easy-to-follow form for investigations. Krieg stated that she continues to monitor investigations and the decision making process.

Committee Chairperson De Lima stated that out of roughly 22,500 employees, 34 open cases is a very small percentage. Committee Chairperson De Lima asked Krieg to explain the consensus at the Department level regarding a process for lesser alternatives before employees are put on leave. Krieg stated that using the appropriate process is a priority as students are affected by teachers put on leave. Krieg stated that guidance on specific circumstances is addressed in training, and the Department is giving advice to educational leaders. It is important to weigh the risk to students and employees put on leave before taking action. Committee Chairperson De Lima requested to have an item pertaining to procedures and policy aspects on the following Committee agenda to address issues raised through written testimony and receive an update on proposed procedures and policy initiatives.

Committee Vice Chairperson Hubert Minn asked for clarification on past plans to meet with the unions. Krieg stated that the Department had communicated with all three unions regarding a procedure process and is incorporating their feedback. Krieg stated that the Department has a few remaining questions to which to respond but will have the procedures ready to present at the following Committee update. Committee Vice Chairperson Minn asked if certain types of cases take priority over others and if there are different procedures depending on priority. Krieg stated that most cases follow the same procedures with the exception of those involving the Civil Rights Compliance Office. Within the Department, cases involving allegations of student harm take the highest priority.

Ex Officio Committee Member Kenneth Uemura asked for the gross changes between the number of cases that were opened and closed. Krieg responded that between April 15 and July 1, 2016, 15 cases had been closed and 11 new cases had been opened. Ex Officio Committee Member Uemura asked if there is a baseline for the aging of cases that can be used for comparison purposes. Krieg stated that the baseline for cases is the date the employee was put on leave to the date they are no longer on leave. Ex Officio Committee Member Uemura asked for clarification on the relevance of the baseline. Krieg explained that the Department’s two goals are to reduce the number of employees put on leave and to resolve cases as quickly as possible. The aging of cases is measured to look for high value leverage points to use resources to improve these numbers. Ex Officio Committee Member Uemura asked if the number of rotating cases between April and July is considered adequate and if the Department is comparing any of this information to national data. Krieg stated that based on the time of year, about the same number of cases were opened and closed. Krieg stated the Department ultimately wants to see fewer cases overall. Ex Officio Committee Member Uemura expressed concern about how the data is evaluated, especially considering the Department only compares data internally and not to national data. Ex Officio Committee Member Uemura stated he cannot evaluate how well the Department is doing or to say that it is closing cases at a reasonable rate. Krieg stated that the initial objective was to reduce the number of DDL/LPI cases and get teachers back in the classroom. Krieg offered to present some national data at the next update. Krieg stated that when the procedures are presented, the Committee will have a better idea of a reasonable timeline.

Committee Chairperson De Lima stated that the Board of Education (“Board”) was originally concerned with how long it was taking to close DDL/LPI cases. He stated that it would be productive to have comparable data. Committee Chairperson De Lima noted that funds for additional staffing had been requested and denied, but the Department is making good progress with existing resources. Krieg stated that the Superintendent had reallocated funds for three temporary positions; however, the situation is less than ideal. It is likely that the Board will be asked to authorize further funding requests in the future to hire experienced investigators.

Committee Vice Chairperson Minn stated that while the percentage of employees on leave is very small, just one case can impact a person’s life. Committee Vice Chairperson Minn asked if the Department is focusing on the entry level of investigations. Krieg stated that usually principals make initial determinations to put employees on leave, but she has not seen a case in quite a while where it was not obvious why a person was put on DDL or LPI.

Committee Member Bruce Voss stated that the amount of time in the decision making phase seemed to be an area of opportunity and asked what factors drive cases to be open longer than three months. Krieg stated that processes are set by collective bargaining agreements, and the involvement of union representatives could cause scheduling issues. Krieg stated that there were a number of cases in which the respondent on leave claimed to be sick and therefore could not meet. The Department has begun requiring that employees that claim use their sick leave. Once sick leave is used up, the employee will be out on leave without pay, the same as any other Department employee. Krieg added that principal turnover and the availability of resources to those helping to prepare and gather information can also contribute to a lengthier investigation. The Department needs to be more proactive and less reactive at every level. Krieg stated there were also cases in which additional information was presented to the decision makers, causing them to reconsider action, which prolonged the process. Committee Member Voss stated that when looking at investigations, there are often prior complaints, and asked if people are comfortable and have the resources available to make complaints. Krieg stated that she believes people feel comfortable making complaints to the Civil Rights Compliance Office because it is a centralized process and not handled at the school level. Krieg stated she is unsure if employees feel uncomfortable with making other complaints at the school level in fear of retaliation, and it may depend on the school and its culture. Krieg stated that employees have the option to speak with their union representatives who offer some level of protection.

Committee Member Patricia Bergin asked if employees put on DDL or LPI are informed of the specific allegations against them. Krieg responded that employees are informed, but in the past the information was very generic. The Department has improved the level of detail within notices in the last year. Committee Member Bergin asked if the individual is notified if no wrongdoing is found and how the person is compensated. Krieg stated that employees are informed if there are no findings of wrongdoing, and employees are still compensated while out on leave. Committee Member Bergin asked if the Department does anything to rectify the employee’s reputation through public relations or if that is the unions’ responsibility. Krieg stated that the Department is careful not to say anything publicly about employees put on leave due to privacy concerns, but she cannot speak for the unions.

Krieg and Stephen Schatz, Deputy Superintendent, introduced the Educator Effectiveness System (“EES”) to the new Board members. Krieg stated there is a yearly review of the EES, and the Board revised its policy on the teacher evaluation system in May 2016. Krieg stated that the EES is still relatively new, initially negotiated with the Hawaii State Teachers Association (“HSTA”) in 2013. Certain portions of the structure are at the discretion of the Superintendent, and the primary feedback group is the HSTA-Department Joint Committee. Additional feedback was collected from the Principals’ Roundtable, field surveys, and teacher-leader workgroups to improve the system. The Every Student Succeeds Act provides flexibility and no longer requires the tie between student performance on assessments and educator evaluations. The Board revised policies to cut ties between the two. Krieg stated that for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year, a video will be shown to educators explaining the EES and changes that have occurred.

Schatz stated that two important shifts have occurred. First is the requirement that every teacher be observed twice a year. New implementation will put staff on a streamlined evaluation, which still includes feedback. The second change eliminated ties between student test scores and teacher evaluation scores. Schatz stated that student score became a distraction and lag in the use of data due to the timing of results. Additionally, not all subjects are tested. Schatz stated that student achievement matters but that standardized testing data is not necessarily the most appropriate indicator when looking at teacher evaluations.

Krieg and Schatz played one of the EES training videos that is shown to teachers.

Committee Chairperson De Lima stated that the video is well done, but it would be helpful to speak about the collaborative efforts of the Board, Department, unions, and teachers to review and revise the EES.

Committee Member Voss asked if there are any mechanisms for teachers to challenge an outcome or rating results of EES they believed to be unjustified. Krieg stated that there is a procedure built in for an expedited appeal for tenured teachers that are rated “marginal.” There is also the grievance process through the unions. Committee Member Voss asked if there are avenues to provide peer input for improvement. Krieg stated that there are no such avenues in the evaluation system, but there are other avenues in which teachers could call attention to the need for support for peers.

V. Executive Session

The Committee did not convene an executive session.

VI. Adjournment

Committee Chairperson De Lima adjourned the meeting at 2:09 p.m.