FILE:  GAE

 

COMPLAINTS AND GRIEVANCES

 

 

Any employee, parent, or student shall have the right to appeal the application of policies and administrative decisions affecting him/her.  A person making a grievance shall be assured freedom from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal in presenting his/her appeal with respect to a personal grievance.

 

PURPOSE

 

To provide an orderly process at the lowest possible level for the resolution of complaints and concerns.

 

DEFINITIONS

 

  1. A grievance is a claim by an employee, parent, or student, or group that has suffered harm or injury by the interpretation, application, or violation of a contract, a School Board policy, a law or constitutionally guaranteed rights.  The term grievance does not include matters for which the method of review is prescribed by law or where the School Board is without authority to act.

  2. Employees covered by this procedure shall mean permanent employees of the Board.

  3. Immediate supervisor is that employee possessing administrative authority to direct the activities of the grievant.

  4. The grievant is the employee, parent, student, or group claiming harm or injury.

  5. Working day is a day in which the grievant is scheduled to work.

  6. A party in interest is a person who might be required to take action or against whom action might be taken in order to resolve a grievance.

 

PROCEDURES

 

All grievances shall be handled expeditiously and according to the policy of the Plaquemines Parish School Board.  The number of days indicated at each level is a maximum.

 

The grievant may withdraw his/her grievance at any level.

 

No reprisals of any kind will be taken or tolerated against any employee, parent, or student because he or she has filed or advanced a grievance under this policy.

 

Preliminary Action:

 

The aggrieved person(s) shall discuss the problem with the school employee who is the focus of the dispute.  A meeting with the party in interest must be arranged through the appropriate administrator.  The nature of the complaint is to be given to the party in interest prior to the meeting.  Though this meeting precedes the actual filing of a grievance, it is necessary to complete before going to Level 1.

 

No formal grievance is filed prior to this preliminary action in the hopes of an agreeable settlement.

 

Preliminary action must be initiated within ten (10) working days of the incident causing the grievance.

 

Level 1:

 

If the grievant is not satisfied with the preliminary action, within five (5) working days of the preliminary action, the grievant may submit a completed Plaquemines Parish School System Grievance Form PPSSGr-01 to the appropriate school official.  The written grievance shall state the nature of the grievance and the harm or injury caused that initiated the grievance.  The grievant must state what law, policy, or procedure is involved and has been violated and how the complaint can be resolved.

 

The school official will hold a conference within five (5) working days of the receipt of the written grievance.  The grievant and the school official shall attempt to resolve the grievance.  The school official will make a decision within five (5) working days of the meeting.  If the grievant is not satisfied with the decision, he or she may appeal, within five (5) working days, in writing, to the next administrative officer of higher rank.  If the grievance is not advanced to Level 2 within the allotted five (5) days, the matter shall be considered resolved, and the grievant shall have no further right with respect to the grievance.

 

Level 2:

 

In the event the grievant wishes to appeal the decision at Level 1, the written appeal shall contain a statement of the grievance and specific references to the action taken causing the grievance.  The appropriate administrative officer shall conduct a conference as promptly as reasonably possible to attempt to resolve the grievance.  Notice of the conference shall be given to all parties involved in an alleged grievance.  The administrative officer shall issue a written decision to the grievant within five (5) working days after the conference.  If the grievant is not satisfied with the Level 2 decision, he or she may appeal, in writing, to the Superintendent.  The appeal must be submitted within five (5) working days of the decision.  If no appeal is made, the grievance shall be deemed settled and the grievant shall have no further right with respect to said grievance.

 

Level 3:

 

The written appeal shall be submitted along with the Level 1 and Level 2 decisions to the Superintendent.  Upon receipt of such a written appeal, the Superintendent or his/her designee shall conduct a full hearing within ten (10) working days and maintain a transcript of the proceedings.  Within ten (10) working days of the full hearing, the Superintendent shall issue a written decision to the grievant.  If the grievant is not satisfied with the Superintendent’s decision, he or she may appeal the decision to the School Board within five (5) working days of the date on the Superintendent’s written response.  The grievant shall submit a written request for a Board hearing to the President of the Board, with a copy sent to the Superintendent.  If the grievance is not appealed to the School Board within five (5) days of the date of the Superintendent’s written response, the matter shall be considered resolved, and the grievant shall have no further right with respect to said grievance.

 

Level 4:

 

Upon receipt of an appeal, the School Board may agree by majority vote to review the grievance.  If the Board decides to review the grievance, its decision shall be final.  If the Board declines to review the grievance, the decision made at Level 3 shall be final.

 

GUIDELINES FOR THE GRIEVANCE PROCESS

 

  1. Grievance forms should be completed concisely with a specific explanation of the complaint given, including what law, policy, or procedure is involved and has been violated, and how the complaint can be resolved.  This phase of the grievance is most important.  If a grievant cannot demonstrate that there has been a violation, the grievance shall be eliminated from further consideration.  Administrative officials, in their decisions, should address the issue and its application to the law, policy, or procedures which may be violated, and provide reasons for their decisions.

  2. All grievance hearings shall be held in private unless both parties agree to a public hearing.

  3. Appeals of grievance decisions will be limited to the specific issues raised in the original grievance.  No additional charges may be added to the original complaint.

  4. Failure by a grievant to meet the timelines and requirements of this procedure shall result in dismissal of the grievance.  Failure by the administrative person rendering the decision to meet timelines and requirements of this procedure shall allow the grievant, at his/her option, to proceed to the next level of appeal.

  5. Decisions rendered at any administrative level shall be binding until and unless an appeal is made.

  6. Copies of all written decisions of grievances shall be sent to all parties involved.

  7. All documents, communications, or records dealing with a grievance shall be made part of the grievant’s files and shall be destroyed only in accordance with Board policy.

  8. An employee who has charges filed against him/her by the employer shall not file a grievance against the employer until the original charge has been resolved.

  9. If the employee leaves the employment of the Board during the pendency, at any level, of a complaint or grievance, then the employee loses the right to continue the complaint process.

  10. At Levels 2, 3, and 4:

 

    1. Any documentation to be presented at a hearing must be made available to all parties at least two (2) days prior to the hearing.  Failure to comply will eliminate such documentation from being presented at the hearing.

    2. Representation for either or both parties shall be allowed in a grievance hearing at Levels 2, 3, and 4.  Names of representatives and/or witnesses shall be submitted in writing to the appropriate administrative officer at least two (2) days prior to the hearing.  Failure to notify within this time frame will prevent representatives and/or witnesses from appearing on behalf of that party.

    3. Testimony of witnesses for either party shall address the issue of the filed grievance only; furthermore, such testimony shall be limited at the hearing officer’s discretion.  All hearings shall be limited to one hour, or as may be extended by the hearing officer.

 

  1. During a full hearing, recording devices may be used, with proper notification.

 

Adopted:  November 1, 2010

 

 

Ref:     La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §17:100.4

Pickering v. Board of Education, 88 S. Ct. 1731 (1968)

Board minutes, 9-10-01

 

Plaquemines Parish School Board