January 31 2012 FEA Pacific Update

JANUARY 31, 2012
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Update
Reading Street Unit Tests
Transfer Program 2012-13
Europe School Closings
Staffing Documents and Excess
NEA Representative Assembly
Do you know the Negotiated Agreement? Article 2. Section 3 - Representation
Read Across America
Legal Eagle Corner
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits

Area Director Update: Astonishment is one word to describe my feelings when I realized that this is my first update for 2012! You might suspect that this has something to do with the level of activity that we are all experiencing. At every level within the Association leaders are alert to significant changes in our work environment. I am already seeing positive changes in labor relations across the Pacific. Steven Bloom is the Acting Director of DODEA Pacific. The Labor Relations Branch is now fully staffed after a personnel deficit within the Branch that took five months to change. Most of our local leaders are engaging in open dialogue with school administration. There are some significant exceptions, but we and DODDS management, it seems, are ready to try new tactics to improve these situations as well. The following is an overview of my activity representing our members:

Area Director Activities:
January 7 FEA Board of Directors Teleconference (9 PM, JST)
January 21 NEATA [Japan] Board Meeting
January 21 FEA Board of Directors Teleconference (9 PM, JST)
February 7-10 Special Education Area Team Visit in Yokota Complex
February 23 AEAO [Okinawa] Representative Council Meeting
February 24 Kubasaki High School Visit
February 25-26 Pacific Area Leadership Council [PAL] Meetings, Okinawa
February 27 DODEA Pacific Area consultations [JCC]
February 27-29 Okinawa School Visits
March 12-15 FEA Board of Directors Meeting, Washington D.C.
March 16-27 Transfer Program Round, DoDEA HQ, Arlington, VA

K-3 BAS (Basic Skills Assessment) FEA SURVEY for K-3 and Specialists: Teachers, you have an opportunity to provide FEA your feedback on the BAS. Please go to The suspense date is February 6. FEA would like to hear from K-3 teachers, K-3 Special Education Teachers and all reading specialists who serve K-3. This is important!

Reading Streets Unit Tests: Last year's Memorandum Of Understanding dealing with the administration of reading/language arts unit tests is still in effect. The number of tests required has not changed. We are currently in the bargaining stage right now with the Pacific Area Office over possible changes.

Transfer Program 2012-2013: We have a new Transfer Program, which was recently announced. Now is the time to consider your possible location changes for next school year. Please read the Transfer Program carefully and especially the eligibility qualifications on pages 4-5. Our own TP guru, Connie Shanaghan, will soon be posting Transfer Tips on the FEA's website, As always, you can send your questions to your FRS, District President and to me.

Not-to-exceed (NTE)/Local Hire: Each year I am asked by locally hired teachers whether and when they can apply for the transfer program. A transfer confers overseas entitlements. So, it is can be one of the most important questions asked in a teacher's career within DODDS. Your Standard Form 50 can assist you greatly in understanding your appointment. It is important to note that local hires typically receive "term" appointments lasting two years. Once your term appointment has been converted to a "permanent" one after the expiration of two years you are eligible to apply for a transfer during your third year of employment.

Europe School Closures: Something else for you to consider when applying for a transfer is the status of each school. Some are closing soon. This is what I know right now:

Mannheim ES Closure in summer 2012
Geilenkirchen ES Closure in summer 2012
Patrick Henry ES Closure in summer 2013
Heidelberg MS Closure in summer 2013
Heidelberg HS Closure in summer 2013

ENA and VERA: The Early Notice Award (ENA) and Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) announcements have been released and suspense dates are coming up very soon. February 1 is the suspense date for VERA and February 11 for ENA.

Staffing Documents: DODEA Pacific Area Office has notified me that staffing document will be released in the Pacific on February 7. Your FRS will be working closely with the school Administration on next year's staffing to include what will happen with teachers declared excess. Understaffing will create vacancies for the Transfer Program.

NEA Representative Assembly (RA) and FEA Annual Membership Meeting: It is time to consider running for a RA Delegate position from your district. This year's FEA membership meeting and NEA RA will be held in Washington, D.C. The FEA membership meeting dates are June 29-30 followed by the RA, July 1-5. The RA is always an exciting time, but it ramps up even more during the Presidential election year. Please contact your FRS for election details in your district.

Do you know the Negotiated Agreement? -- Article 2 . Section 3 -- Representation
Article 2, Section 3 describes the Association's right as the exclusive representative of employees covered in the Negotiated Agreement. As a bargaining member, you have the right to representation anytime there is an examination by a representative of the agency in connection with an investigation if you reasonably believe the examination may result in disciplinary action and you request representation.

NEA Read Across America: NEA's Read Across America will be here before you know it!
NEA's Read Across America page (Subscription to the e-newsletter is at the bottom of the web page.)

To receive updates for the March 2, 2012 Read Across America event please subscribe to the e-newsletter. Our free e-newsletter provides the latest news in reading from Read Across America and partner organizations. You'll find links to grant information, classroom and parent materials, and more.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner:

2012 is the Year of the Dragon according to Chinese Astrology and it will arrive on February 4, 2012. Let us hope that it will bring us good fortune and prosperity.

1. RAT - DODEA has confirmed that an educator who has been excessed from one school midway between a two year tour of duty school location to another school location with a two year tour of duty can stack up the previous service time with the current service time and earn RAT after one year at the new school location. That sounds like legalistic manure! Another way of saying it is that two years of continuous service can earn Renewal Agreement Travel. This service does not have to be at the same school location. Is that better?

2. Compassionate Reassignment -- Area Director Debra Degalis and DODEA Pacific Director Diana Ohman signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year regarding the processing of compassionate reassignment requests. When a request arrives at the Pacific Area Office an appointed committee meets to discuss the request[s]. The Association is represented on this committee by the District President of Okinawa. Most requests involve health. For example, an educator might have cancer, which cannot be effectively treated at a remote location either by the military or the host nation medical community. A move to a major military community would furnish adequate treatment opportunities. Another example might be a former spouse who is harassing a teacher to the extent that no military protective order can help separate the two. There are many possible scenarios, but the important point is that the Association has a representative on the compassionate committee, whose vote is counted equally.

3. Discipline and Adverse Actions -- There are times when the distinction between misconduct and performance is blurred. This distinction exists at the very bottom of the intensity scale. This is how DoDEA Regulation 5751.9 defines counseling and letters of caution:
3. Counseling. The communication between an employee and supervisor concerning deficiencies in conduct, attitude, or performance. Counseling shall encompass any form of communication, written or oral, which is not made a record in the employee's Official Personnel Folder (OPF). The notation on an Employee Record Card, or a memorandum for the record, documents a counseling event, and is not a disciplinary action.

10. Letter of Caution or Warning. A written warning by an appropriate official that puts the employee on clear notice that continued improper conduct may lead to formal disciplinary action.
A letter of caution or warning is not a formal disciplinary action. (A warning may be issued to inform the employee of a decline in performance.)

4. Pay Inquiry -- Stephanie Trotter is UNISERV Assistant who works with General Counsel Mike Bauernfeind in Marin County, California. She would like to restate the FEA Pacific policy regarding pay record problems. And sooner or later everyone will encounter a problem pay. If you receive a notice of debt collection from Defense Finance and Accounting Service [DFAS] you should immediately send a copy to her at She will help you get through the maze of regulations and mystery audits that accompany the debt notice.

For all other pay problems you should ask your school secretary for a copy of the fillable Pay Inquiry Form used by your Customer Service Representatives. It is electronic. Scan with it as much documentation as you have regarding the problem. Once filed wait two pay periods for acknowledgement that the matter is being worked. Many times your pay record can be fixed within that amount of time. If the problem is not fixed and you are tired of waiting, then file a pay grievance. Our policy is to file the Pay Inquiry first. It does not hurt to copy our UNISERV office when you send in the Pay Inquiry.

By the way, do you have Leave and Earnings Statements covering your entire career? Why not? The Federal Government has no time limit on debt collection against your current or even your retirement pay.

Mark Your Calendars

February 1-28 American Heart Month
February 1-28 Black History Month
February 1-28 Library Lovers' Month
February 2 Ground Hog Day
February 6-10 National School Counseling Week
February 7 200th Birthday of Charles Dickens
February 12 Abraham Lincoln's Birthday
February 13-19 Random Acts of Kindness Week
February 14 Valentine's Day
February 20 President's Day
February 22 George Washington's Birthday
March 1-31 Music in our Schools Month
March 1-31 National Nutrition Month
March 1-31 National Women's Month
March 2 NEA Read Across America


Thanks to Brian Chance, NEA Director for FEA, for sharing the next 2 professional development opportunities.

2012 Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes

The Library of Congress is now accepting applications for its 2012 Teaching with Primary Sources Teacher Institutes in Washington, D.C. The free, five-day institute will provide educators with the tools and resources to effectively integrate primary sources into classroom teaching.
Institutes will take place on the following dates:
May 21-25, 2012
June 11-15, 2012
July 9-13, 2012 (World Cultures Focus)
July 16-20, 2012 (Civil War Focus)
August 6-10, 2012
There is no charge for the program or materials but participants must cover costs for travel to Washington, DC and lodging and meals while in Washington. Participants may earn three graduate credits from George Mason University for completing all Summer Teacher Institute requirements (fee). Application Deadline: February 17, 2011

National Endowment of the Humanities: Visit the NEH Web site

I have participated in several NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) summer seminars/institutes.
These are wonderful opportunities for professional development. Please note the suspense date: The application deadline is March 1, 2012 (postmark). Plan ahead to complete the application on time.

These seminars and institutes are offered by NEH -- not DoDEA.

Stay Informed: FEA and NEA provide a wealth of information to you. Remember to have your membership ID ready in order to access information for members only. You will find your ID number on your membership card. Instructions for new members to gain access to are at

NEA Websites you can use:

NEA Website
NEA Academy
NEA Member Benefits
NEA Health Information Network
NEA Read Across America

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this page

Until the next update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director