ATPE members win appeal in RIF case Four ATPE members were on the winning side in one of the first commissioner’s decisions handed down after the spring 2011 reductions in force (RIFs). Commissioner of Education Robert Scott issued a ruling July 5 stating that Killeen ISD’s decision not to renew the four employees’ contracts due to a RIF was “arbitrary and capricious.” The district was ordered to reinstate the employees and pay them any back pay as well as employment benefits from the time their contracts were nonrenewed or, alternatively, pay the employees one year of salary from the date they would have been rehired. State law establishes these two alternatives after a successful appeal.
No local unit but still want to volunteer? No problem! If you’re interested in serving as an ATPE volunteer but work in a school district without an active chartered local unit, then the ATPE Ambassador program is for you.
Arnett also says he was reassured by the commissioner’s adherence to long-standing principles protecting teachers’ rights during RIFs. ATPE and its counsel have defended a number of RIF actions since spring 2011.
Ambassadors become a voice for ATPE in districts that currently do not have local units. You can volunteer for ATPE in the capacities that suit your level of comfort, whether that’s setting up an ATPE table at a district event or simply distributing membership materials. The ATPE state office will provide you with the training and tools you need to succeed as an ATPE Ambassador.
“As far as we know, the Killeen cases are the first to be appealed to the commissioner,” Arnett says. “Under the current political climate, we believe there may be more situations next spring in which districts decide they need to reduce staff. In this environment, we felt it was critically important to establish that districts would not be permitted to ignore logic, law and fundamental fairness in the process.”
Sign up for the program at www. atpe.org/AboutUs/ambassadorSignUp. aspx. Please contact ATPE Local Unit Coordinator Jessica McKay at jmckay@ atpe.org or (800) 777-ATPE if you have questions.
The four ATPE members were represented by attorney Rick Arnett, who says the district’s board violated its RIF policy by allowing principals to select “less favored or disfavored employees for termination and to avoid any duty to place them in open positions” for which they were qualified.
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How do you find out if there’s an ATPE local unit in your school district? Visit www.atpe.org/AboutUs/ATPEIn YourArea.asp, and select your school district from the menu under Contact Your Local Unit Representative.
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