STATE OF HAWAII
BOARD OF EDUCATION
HUMAN RESOURCES COMMITTEE
Queen Liliuokalani Building
1390 Miller Street, Room 404
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Tuesday, February 16, 2015
Brian De Lima, Chairperson
Hubert Minn, Vice Chairperson
Barbara Krieg, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Human Resources
Amy Kunz, Senior Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, Office of Fiscal Services
Alison Kunishige, Board Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
I. Call to Order
The Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) meeting was called to order by Committee Chairperson Brian De Lima at 9:30 a.m.
II. Public Testimony on Board of Education (“Board”) Agenda Items
Committee Chairperson De Lima called for public testimony. The following person provided oral testimony.
|Kaeo Vasconcellos||N/A||IV. A. Update on DDL and LPI||Comment |
Kaeo Vasconcellos, former public school teacher, testified that he was put on Department Directed Leave (“DDL”) for teaching a controversial lesson. Vasconcellos received permission prior to the lesson but was removed in the middle of class and not allowed to speak to anyone. He was put on DDL without knowing the reason why for four months. The process impacted other teachers and created a culture of mistrust in the school. The students were provided substitutes in Vasconcellos’ absence, impacting their learning as well. Due to this event, Vasconcellos left the public school system and now teaches at a private school. He stated that administration needs to understand what putting a teacher on DDL does to them. In Vasconcellos’ situation, he was not asked to change his lesson the issue went straight to the Office of Civil Rights. Vasconcellos stated that it takes a long time for a teacher’s voice to be heard.
Committee Member Don Horner thanked Vasconcellos for testifying and stated that the Board is taking these situations seriously.
Committee Vice Chairperson Hubert Minn stated that there seems to be a pattern of due process issues, and the Board is taking it seriously. He stated that names should not be tarnished without validity, and losing Vasconcellos was a great loss for the public school system.
Vasconcellos stated that his process took about a year and a half, and there was no cause found.
Committee Chairperson De Lima asked who the complainant was. Vasconcellos replied that the situation arose when a teacher overheard a student and brought it to the Vice Principal, who contacted the Office of Civil Rights.
Committee Member Patricia Halagao reiterated that Vasconcellos is an excellent teacher and was glad to hear colleagues asking questions to prevent future situations.
Vanessa Ott testified and requested that the Board pass a policy making investigation policies and procedures available online for the public to see. Ott shared the letter she received when she was investigated. Ott stated that when accusations are made, the complainants are not identified, which is a violation of due process. Ott's investigation was dropped, but she was put on leave for several months. She wanted to ensure accountability by making investigation policies and procedures available online.
III. Approval of Minutes
The Human Resources Committee’s minutes of January 19, 2016 were approved as circulated without objection (Minn/Halagao).
IV. Discussion Items
V. Executive Session
A. Update on Department of Education investigation (Department Directed Leave (“DDL”) and Leave Pending Investigation (“LPI”)): details regarding decision-making status of pending cases
Barbara Krieg, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Human Resources, apologized to Vasconcellos for his situation. Krieg stated that feedback received has indicated a cultural shift within the past year. Now there is an atmosphere where placing employees on DDL or Leave Pending Investigation (“LPI”) is not favored and is viewed as a last resort.
Committee Member Amy Asselbaye entered the room at 9:47 a.m.
Krieg stated that the Department of Education (“Department”) has been working on an appropriate and effective process to be invoked when necessary. Krieg’s presentation would focus on the decision-making process.
Committee Vice Chairperson Minn inquired about information he requested in December but still had not received. Krieg explained that there are many challenges, but that the data assembled thus far would be provided by February 19, 2016 (the result of 300-400 man-hours worth of time). There are numerous different offices that house the data requested, and most required manual capture and review, already taking 400 man-hours. Cases not elevated to the Office of Human Resources Investigations Section were requested, so the start of the data collection process is in the centralized data system.
Krieg presented an overview of the decision-making process. Krieg shared a flowchart of the process, including an investigation report transmitted to the principal or director, a post investigation meeting with the employee, the principal or director determining an action, and the Complex Area Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent making a decision or recommendation to the Superintendent.
The process may be long because the Department makes sure that if there will be discipline, that there is due process. For every decision point throughout the process, the decision maker must have sufficient evidence to make a determination. If the decision maker receives a report and has further questions, he or she may ask for an extended investigation. The decision maker will meet with the employee and review the report. The employee then has the opportunity to present any information that he or she was unable to provide during the investigation phase. Unions are involved at this point in the process, often causing delays due to scheduling issues. If the allegations are sustained, the ultimate decision is moved to the Complex Area Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent. If a suspension or termination is involved, there will be an additional level of review and second due process meeting. Certified employees get a third due process meeting. A final outcome is not predetermined and will be decided at the final due process meeting.
Committee Member Horner stated that the challenge is that the person is not informed immediately of the allegations. Krieg stated that the Department has changed the process since Vasconcellos’ time, but clarified that the policy has always stated that the person on leave is to be advised of general allegations.
Committee Vice Chairperson Minn mentioned that former principal John Sosa has stated that he was never informed of the allegations against him and wanted an apology. Committee Vice Chairperson Minn asked how the school code was involved. Krieg replied that much of the school code is built into the DDL/LPI processes.
Krieg continued the presentation by presenting current statistics as of February 5, 2016. Krieg presented a list of 43 employees on DDL/LPI, three of which had been closed. Krieg stated that the Department continues to complete investigations more promptly and will continue to improve. Krieg directed the Committee’s attention to a new column to indicate how long cases have been in the decision-making stage and was prepared to discuss the data further in executive session. She stated that when there is a change in the decision maker, it causes a delay in the process, but the Department is working to minimize the effect.
Committee Member Minn asked what the safeguard is to ensure employees are not investigated multiple times if someone decides there needs to be a more extended investigation. Krieg replied that the decision maker must have enough evidence to believe that discipline is necessary. Additional information for which decision makers may consider include how long an employee has worked for the Department, performance, and information provided by the employee in the meeting.
Committee Chairperson De Lima stated that there is no policy on DDL/LPI and would like to put it on the agenda for next month. If the unions have concerns, they can come to the meeting and address them.
Committee Chairperson De Lima stated that Amy Kunz was contacted to provide information on the amount of resources required to address Committee Vice Chairperson Minn’s information request, and the Board would like the information produced as soon as possible. If the process is taking an extensive amount of man-hours, then the Board would like an explanation and will decide if the information collection process will continue. Information collected thus far should be made available to all Board members.
Committee Chairperson De Lima also asked that the Department of the Attorney General report to the Board and explain why the school code is not made available online. Committee Chairperson De Lima noticed two cases in the report that have been continuing for more than a year in decision making and stated that the decision maker would have to report to the Board for an explanation in executive session unless a decision was made before the next meeting.
Committee Vice Chairperson Minn added that it would be wise to allow the union representative to attend executive session and speak her thoughts as well.
B. Briefing on classes of work with greatest number of vacancies and strategies and incentives to address vacancies
Krieg highlighted positions with large amounts of vacancies including Educational Assistant III, Speech Pathologist IV, School Psychologist, Data Processing User Support Tech II, and Occupational Therapist IV. Krieg stated that the Department takes all applications online and has a centralized screening process for minimum qualifications. The Office of Human Resources screens the applicants to ensure equal opportunity for all, and then a list is given to offices and schools with vacancies to interview and select applicants. Vacancy rates are affected by a number of factors, including a larger amount of applicants for permanent full-time positions, market conditions in Hawaii, geographic location, retention challenges, process barriers, and availability of skills in the local market. The Department is using strategies, such as posting positions on the Department website, social media ads, media advertising, a streamlined random applicant list of ten people to schools, targeted outreach, compensation reviews, and recruitment above the minimum, to fill positions. There are 484 Educational Assistant positions vacant in Hawaii. Alternate minimum qualifications are accepted to fill the position. The Department continues to recruit and reach out to schools as well. There is a compensation review for the position in process.
Committee Vice Chairperson Minn asked if it was hard for mainland teachers to fill the positions. Krieg replied no, but when entering the program, the pay is low compared to the cost of living and mainland teachers may not be aware of this before they relocate.
Committee Chairperson De Lima suggested contracting for positions and having each school determine how it fulfills its Individualized Educational Plan needs based on the availability of resources. Committee Chairperson De Lima discussed using salary savings for inclusion, and stated the Board needs to understand the resources available to make inclusion a success. If the Department cannot fill vacancies, services cannot be provided. Krieg stated that the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Support have been working very closely to make progress.
Committee Member Jim Williams suggested working with the University of Hawaii system to offer programs to Educational Assistants. Krieg replied that similar programs exist, and the Department is increasing recruitment from colleges.
Committee Member Halagao stated that a 40% vacancy rate for psychologists is concerning and asked if one is provided to every school. Krieg responded no, and clarified that Hawaii does not have a program within the state to graduate school psychologists.
Committee Vice Chairperson Minn suggested using university students or retirees as 89-day hires to fill positions. Krieg replied that they could be 89-day hires, but not full-time hires.
ACTION: Motion to move into executive session to consult with Board attorney on the items on the agenda (Horner/Minn). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
The meeting recessed at 10:53 a.m. and reconvened at 11:05 a.m.
Committee Chairperson De Lima adjourned the meeting at 11:05 a.m.