Negaunee Public Schools
September 15, 2008
Minutes of the Regular Meeting, of the Board of Education, Negaunee Public Schools, City of Negaunee, County of Marquette, and State of Michigan, held on September 15, 2008, at Lakeview Elementary School.
Members Present: Fae Collins, Osmond T. Kemp, Virginia Paulson, Martin Renaldi, Dave Rice, and Martin Saari
Member Absent: Dan Hintsala
James Derocher, Superintendent
Bob Bonetti, High School Principal
Dan Skewis, Middle School Principal
Joe Meyskens, Lakeview Elementary School Principal
Mary Kay Johnson, Administrative Aide for Finance
Julie Dompierre, Recording Secretary
241. The meeting was called to order by President Martin Renaldi at 7:00 p.m.
242. A quorum of the board was established.
243. Motion by F. Collins, supported by M. Saari, to approve the agenda with the following additional items: 251. New Business – L. Field Trip Request, M. Cooperative Swimming Program. Motion carried 6-0.
244. Public Comment - None
245. Motion by V. Paulson, supported by D. Rice, to approve the minutes of the
regular meeting held on August 18, 2008. Motion carried 6-0.
246. Motion by M. Saari, supported by O. Kemp, to approve the consent items as presented. Motion carried 6-0.
247. Payment of Bills and Financial Reports
A. Motion by V. Paulson, supported by O. Kemp, to approve payment of bills totaling $169,144.13. Motion carried 6-0.
B. The Financial Report was presented by the Administrative Aide for Finance, Mary Kay Johnson
248. A written report was received from the Community Education Director. Oral reports were received from Bob Bonetti, High School Principal, Dan Skewis, Middle School Principal, Joe Meyskens, Lakeview Elementary School, and Superintendent Derocher.
Superintendent Derocher received permission from the Board to solicit monetary donations in order to purchase two new wireless scoreboards for the Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium.
President Renaldi read a thank you letter from Tina Lynch, Secretary of the Negaunee High School Band Backers. Ms. Lynch thanked the Board and Superintendent for their commitment to purchase a number of new band uniforms for the Marching Miners Band.
250. Old Business:
A. Superintendent Derocher discussed sending a member of the Board to the MASB Fall Leadership Conference. No action taken.
251. New Business:
A. Don Brown, a representative from the High School Boys Baseball Committee, updated the Board on the CommitteeÕs fundraising efforts and where the team may be playing their games. No action necessary.
B. Motion by O. Kemp, supported by M. Saari, to approve the excused medical leave both paid and unpaid, for up to 8 weeks, for Coleen Allen, an Instructional Aide. This leave is considered under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Eyer Becker, an Instructional Aide, was granted an extension in her unpaid maternity leave from six weeks to 12 weeks per her request. This leave is considered under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Motion carried 6-0.
C. Upon a request from Darla Borlace, a retired employee, the Board and Superintendent Derocher discussed the retirement language contained in the MESPA contract concerning Article 17 – Retirement and Severance Pay Section 1 Item C. The Board, under the contract language, denied Ms. Borlace request for retirement severance pay.
D. Terry LaJeunesse, MEA Uni-serve Director, addressed the Board on behalf of Billie Stedman, a Middle School Special Education Teacher. Ms. Stedman has filed a grievance, sighting Article 9 – Vacancies and Promotions, because she was not transferred into a full-time Kindergarten teaching position. Mr. LaJeunesse referred to Ms. StedmanÕs previous teaching experience, which included general education where she taught 2 years of sixth grade math and her student teaching in the Kindergarten classroom. He stated that Ms. Stedman was not given a chance to interview for the position and if she had she would have discussed her previous teaching assignments along with her willingness to participate as a track coach.
Mr. LaJeunesse stated that according to Article 10 - Transfers, Seniority, Staff Reduction and Recall, this transfer would have been in the best interest of Ms. Stedman. He did not feel this change would have been disruptive to the students because the change would have taken place before the start of the school year. Mr. LaJeunesse mentioned that any external hire is a gamble no matter how many years of experience that person brings to the position. Mr. LaJeunesse said he understood both Ms. Steadman and the external candidate were both highly qualified and certified; however, Ms. SteadmanÕs positive teaching evaluations and previous experience should have qualified her for this position. He felt that in this situation the best interest of the teacher appeared to be ignored. If her best interest was taken into consideration this transfer would have been granted. Ms. Stedman is ready for a change in her work assignment. The Administration should have given her high priority and seniority in this vacancy over an external candidate.
Mr. LeJeunesse said he was informed that it would have been more difficult to fill the special education teaching position. He found this very hard to believe since Northern Michigan University has students from the area graduating and these students would like to stay in this locale.
Mr. LeJeunesse presented to the Board the following:
Ms. Stedman would be willing to drop this grievance if the Administration would promise to assign her to the next full-time teaching position in which she meet the seniority, highly qualified and certified requirements.
Superintendent Derocher addressed the Board and explained the procedures that were followed when the candidate was selected.
Superintendent Derocher meet with both the Lakeview and Middle School Principals on all of the internal transfers taking place. He said that as in the past and in this situation he did not interview internal applicants.
Superintendent Derocher said the Administration did follow the contact language by making the decision to hire an external candidate. The focus, when filling the vacancy was what was in the best interest of the school district as a whole.
Superintendent Derocher said the external candidate was chosen because she had 5 years of experience in the Kindergarten classroom. She had been a student teacher, substitute teacher, and a coach for the Negaunee Public Schools.
Superintendent Derocher was not sure why this grievance was even filed. He had spoken to Ted OÕDell, the previous MEA Union Representative, regarding this decision and Mr. OÕDell didnÕt have a problem with the Administrations recommendation of the external candidate.
Mr. LaJeunesse said he had spoken with his superior and that the union would be willing to take the grievance to the next level if the district did not accept Ms. StedmanÕs proposal.
President Renaldi asked how many times Ms. Stedman had applied for other positions.
Raeann Loy, Union President, said Ms. Stedman had applied for other positions four times.
President Renaldi then asked why does she want to transfer?
Mr. LaJeunesse said it may be in the best interest of the students if she transferred – people like to change venue.
President Renaldi asked Superintendent Derocher if he concurred with Mr. LaJeunesse statement about finding teachers for special education.
Superintendent Derocher explained that he had contacted Marquette Schools and was told the pool of candidates was slim. He also spoke with Ishpeming and they were having difficulty filling a part-time special education teaching position. Superintendent Derocher said that Ms. Stedman is an effective teacher.
Martin Saari supported the procedure followed by the Administration since the Principals from the schools were involved in the process. He supports the Administrations recommendation.
Mr. LaJeunesse said that he feels the interview process was not evenly conducted because Ms. Stedman was not given the opportunity to interview. He feels that she should be given the opportunity to transfer due to the high stress level in her job.
Dave Rice asked Mr. LaJeunesse if these proceedings would be taking place if she was granted an interview?
Mr. LaJeunesse replied that had she had an interview he may have been at the Board meeting arguing something different. However, chances would have been a lot less if she would have had more consideration.
President Renaldi asked should the teacherÕs best interest be considered over the districts?
Mr. LaJeunesse said he didnÕt believe this was a black and white issue and felt that both the teacher and the district should be considered.
Motion by M. Saari, supported by F. Collins, to deny the NEA Grievance number 2. Motion carried 6-0.
E. Mr. LeJeunesse again addressed the Board with a request to change the wording in a letter sent to Tina Prusi, who was an Instructional Aide. The letter of termination contained the word insubordination. Mr. LeJeunesse explained that this word was too harsh. He reflected on Mrs. PrusiÕs past employee evaluations, along with the investment made by the school district in additional educational training she had received. He requested that all documentation, concerning Mrs. Prusi, have the word insubordination removed.
Mr. LeJeunesse stated that he was aware that the State of Michigan had a law in place making it mandatory that all school district employees be fingerprinted by July 1, 2008, or they would no longer be employable. However, he said that Mrs. PrusiÕs termination should be rescinded under the spirit of the law. He asked that Mrs. Prusi be reinstated either in her previous position without loss of seniority, or be rehired as a new employee. He questioned if missing a deadline date was reason for the termination of employment.
Superintendent Derocher said he had been in contact with the school attorney concerning the law and employees that had not complied with the required, July 1, 2008, deadline date. The attorney then drafted the
termination letter, which Superintendent Derocher signed and sent to Mrs. Prusi.
Superintendent Derocher told the Board that he had sent various memos, which were included in all employee paychecks and numerous district e-mails, over the last 30 months, informing all employees that they must comply with the State of Michigan fingerprinting law or termination of employment would result. All employees were also made aware of the procedures to follow for reimbursement of this expense from the Negaunee Public Schools.
Superintendent Derocher said that when his secretary contacted Mrs. Prusi, on July 10th, to meet with him her response was Òoh, this is about the fingerprinting.Ó Later that day the fingerprint results were received via e-mail at the SuperintendentÕs Office.
Martin Saari asked why did the State of Michigan require fingerprinting?
Superintendent Derocher said the State wanted to eliminate the potential of child abuse by sex offenders or an individual who is a felon.
Virginia Paulson asked if the district has any options if something turns up on the fingerprint results.
Superintendent Derocher said that some items, which could show up, are not grounds for termination of employment there are guidelines to follow.
Fae Collins asked if the State of Michigan found out that a district employee did not have fingerprints on file what were the consequences to the district?
Virginia Paulson asked if Mrs. Prusi was good at her job?
Tina Prusi stated she had been employed for 7 - 8 years as an Instructional Aide and that she is hurt by this situation. She asked if anyone actually knew what it was like to work in a special education setting. She has been spit on, stabbed, head butted and even changed diapers. There came a time when she needed to get an MRI, due to an incident at school, and paid for it out of her own pocket with no expense to the school district. She said she felt that if she had yelled at a parent that would be insubordination, but to miss a deadline date that is too harsh of a word everyone has missed a deadline date. Mrs. Prusi said she has had health problems with both her and her mother. She was also planning two graduation parties for her children and she simply forgot about the fingerprinting requirement.
Mr. LeJeunesse said the call to Mrs. Prusi on July 10th, triggered her into getting the fingerprints done that day maybe she should she have been contacted on July 1st.
Mrs. Prusi said she is hurt because she had applied for her previous position and was not given an interview. She said she was a team player and had a positive attitude, which is difficult in a special education setting because of the potential to get burn out. She then asked the Board if they were aware of her letter. At this juncture the Board indicated yes either verbally or with a shake of their head.
President Renaldi stated that no one was questioning Mrs. PrusiÕs dedication. However, he did reiterate that she had 30 months to comply with this State of Michigan law.
Mrs. Prusi did state that her health problems do cause problems with memory. She admitted that she had made a mistake but thought the school district would take care of her.
President Renaldi stated the Board would need a motion to change the wording on the letter of July 23, 2008, and the Board minutes from July 21, 2008, under 223. New Business, Item K. that contain the word insubordination with regards to Mrs. Prusi.
Motion by Virginia Paulson, supported by M. Saari, to replace the word insubordination with the following: because of failure to comply with the State law. Motion carried 6-0
Mr. LeJeunesse and Mrs. Prusi then asked the Board if they would reinstate Mrs. Prusi or rehire her back into the district.
President Renaldi asked for a motion from any member of the Board to reinstatement/rehire Mrs. Prusi. No motion was made.
F. Superintendent Derocher informed the Board that Fox Negaunee has agreed to be the exclusive sponsor of the districtÕs Project Newborn and Rock-n-Read program for the 2008-09 school year. No action necessary.
G. Motion by F. Collins, supported D. Rice, to award an exclusive 5-year contract to Coca Cola to supply beverages to the school district and the Booster Club. Motion carried 6-0.
H. Superintendent Derocher and the Board discussed the districtÕs student enrollment. No action necessary.
I. V. Paulson, supported by D. Rice, authorizing the following positions to use the school districtÕs charge cards: Superintendent of Schools, Administrative Aide for Finance, Administrative Aide for Operations, Building Principals, Athletic Director, Technology Coordinator, Computer Technician, Teachers, Counselors, Maintenance person and Coaches. Motion carried 6-0.
J. Motion by M. Saari, supported by O. Kemp, to approve the following Schedule B positions:
Jodi Johnson Lakeview Student Council Advisor
Mark Churchill Middle School Detention Supervisor
Perry Wooden Assistant Hockey Coach
Motion carried 6-0.
K. Motion by D. Rice, supported by O. Kemp, to hire the following individuals:
Bobby Shiroda, Instructional Aide/Title VII Instructional Aide at the Middle School.
Lisa Marana, Instructional Aide Lakeview
Nancy Vilona, Non-Instructional Aide at Lakeview
Karen Prusi, Kitchen Worker at Lakeview
Jennifer Collins, Bus Driver
Peter Kenn, Instructional Aide at the High School
Motion carried 6-0.
L. Motion by V. Paulson, supported by D. Rice, to approve a July 2009 field trip request for a self-funded trip to Germany for the High School Orchestra students. Motion carried 6-0
M. Motion by F. Collins, supported by O. Kemp, to add Gwinn High School to the cooperative swimming program as it presently exists between Ishpeming and Negaunee High Schools. Motion carried 6-0.
Martin Saari asked how many students can try out for the swim team? Bob Bonetti replied that no cuts are made, the swimming program is handled like the track program.
Coleen Allen asked if she had received a copy of the vacancy posting for the position that Peter Kenn had been hired for?
Superintendent Derocher said no because they had discussed this vacancy in negotiations. This position would be determined by the hours this one student would be capable of attending school. This position more then likely will be a temporary assignment.
253. The Board members received a copy of a letter from our accounting firm Anderson, Tackman & Company, PLC informing them of matters relating to the scope, timing, and consideration of fraud of their audit of the school district.
254. President Renaldi adjourned the meeting at 9:35 p.m.
Martin Renaldi, President Virginia Paulson, Secretary