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December 13, 2013 FEA Pacific Update

DECEMBER 13, 2013

Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Report
Upcoming Events Deadline for FEA Pacific Area Director Nominations
Vacancy Announcements
Excess Placement Program
VERA/VISA
EQIP
Got Pay Problems?
Technology challenges
Reality Check
Happy Holidays
Administration List
Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement?
Legal Eagle Corner-
Other Tidbits

Area Director Report: The whirlwind continues. The FEA Board of Directors met the week of 17-22 November. In addition to the board discussions, we heard a number of presenters from NEA and met with Acting DoDEA Director, Mr. Talley and some of his staff. There were many issues that we are working. I would love to report to you that all of them have been resolved. But, that is not the case. Regardless, please know that FEA is working hard on every level and will continue the good fight. I cannot say it enough. Our DoDDS teachers face challenges on many fronts that teachers stateside do not experience. Federal government employee regulations, military regulations, host country laws and culture and DoDEA expectations are just some of them. FEA is there for our members 24/7 and no other Association can say that. Our members were not furloughed or included in the Government shutdown in large part because of FEA and NEA action. DODDS teachers did not lose days of pay like other Federal employees. Member dues supported these victories for all DODDS teachers including non-members.

Past and Upcoming Events:
November 14 Area Advisory Council Meeting (VTC)
November 17-22 FEA Board of Directors Meeting
December 19 Pacific Area Joint Consultations

Deadline for FEA Pacific Area Director Nominations: December 19, 2013 is the deadline for postmarking nomination forms. Please check with your FRS for the election timelines and procedures.

Vacancy Announcements: Working with DODEA Area Directors, FEA was able to open up vacancy announcements worldwide. A DODDS educator can apply for any vacancy in Europe or the Pacific. Many thanks to Nancy Bresell and Linda Curtis for opening up the application process to everyone. Due to the excess placement program, current vacancies have to be filled before the end of the first semester and also the reason for short suspense dates.

Excess Placement Program: FEA and DoDEA signed off on the procedures for the 2014-15 Excess Placement Program. The program is similar to last year's program. FEA was able to negotiate expanding the conditions for reconsideration. The placement program is scheduled to be held in March. The schools that will be closing at the end of SY 13-14include: Schweinfurt E/MS, Schweinfurt HS, Bamberg ES, Bamberg M/HS and Byrd ES. After staffing documents are received, the principal will work with the FRS on following the excess procedures. As always FEA will help members affected by the excess. We will continue to work with DoDEA HQ to offer as much movement for our teachers as possible and especially for the hardship areas.

The link to the MOU on the FEA Web site.

VERA/VSIP: The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) will be offered first to the teachers in the closing schools. This has already begun. VSIP/VERA will then be offered to the educators declared excess from DoDDS school not closing and non-excessed DoDDS educators whose acceptance of VERA or VSIP could be filled by an excess teacher. The second round will run from mid-December to mid-January.

EQIP: In September, a number of our educators received notices from Area Human Resources that they were required to submit information for a security check and a résumé. Teachers were not told that they could request leave under Article 22, Section 1 of the Negotiated Agreement in order to complete the security check. I have been informed that all of the affected teachers have completed the process. If you receive a notice, please contact your FRS so we can ensure appropriate procedures are followed.

Got Pay Problems?: Too many of us have experienced some type of pay problem in the past. Frustration and anger are the results. FEA members in the Pacific will now have available another expert to assist them with debt problems. Bill Freeman concentrates solely on pay issues for FEA Europe. He is one of three attorney UniServ Directors in Europe. Let's welcome Bill to the Japanese Yen and the Korean Won! Please read carefully the Legal Eagle corner section for guidance from Michael Bauernfeind and Bill Freeman. We know that initially there may be some questions and some confusion. Your FRS, District President, Michael, Stephanie and I will make sure your pay issue is addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible and with the appropriate person. I am attaching Bill's pay package for you to save and use. There is a fillable or printed form to meet your particular preference.

Technology and program challenges: The Pacific Area Office has a new IT Chief, Mr. Hidaka-Gordon. He has been very responsive and wants to work together to resolve and improve technology in our schools. Please report issues to your FRS so they can be elevated if necessary.

Reality Check: As our wagons continue to fill, I am not always convinced that DODEA leadership recognizes the tremendous dedication of our teachers. DODDS and DDESS teachers perform miracles. Our students score at the top on NAEP; a test that cannot be ‘coached'. Our students' Terra Nova scores are above average. We have a high percentage of students going on to post-secondary schools or training. Graduating seniors go to the best ranked universities and earn numerous scholarships. And, each time I attend an Area Advisory Council there is at least one parent that heaps praises on our teachers. Despite your successes, there continue to be too many top-down initiatives that do not reflect the needs of our students and educators. The reality is that our teachers are the ones who carry out the mission. You are the experts and you know the needs of your students and for your program. It is time for DODEA leadership to listen to the educators doing the work.

Administration List: The updated administration list is attached thanks to the Pacific Area Office.

Do You Know your Negotiated Agreement? The policy regarding leave is contained within Articles 21 -- 24. This is a good time of the year for review. Article 21 details the basics of teacher leave. Article 22 explains excused absences while Article 23 is about leave without pay (LWOP). Finally Article 24 clarifies leave for witnesses at legal proceedings.

Happy Holidays: Winter recess and the Christmas, Kwanza, and New Year's holidays will be upon us before we can click our heels three times. At least that is how I feel. You have completed a successful first quarter in spite of the government shutdown, budget woes, etc. The second quarter/first semester end will be here soon and all its busyness. May your travels be safe and please make sure that someone can reach you in case of an emergency. I wish for you and your loved ones, a wonderful break. Take time for yourself and stop to smell and savor your favorite holiday flower and/or food.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: There will be some changes in the way that we handled pay related problems. If you have been talking with colleagues you know that pay problems seem to be on the rise. Most of these problems relate to debt collections. Three years ago DFAS began a slash and burn campaign aimed at uncovering unreported debts within DODEA. The result has been that hundreds of current and separated DODDS teachers have received debt notices. We have found that many of the claims are erroneous and that statutory and regulatory safeguards have been ignored. The FEA Board of Directors has taken action to redistribute the legal workload among the lawyers working for FEA.

As a consequence, the FEA is reorganizing the way in which legal services are delivered. In order to equalize workloads and to provide for more uniformity in the way in which pay cases are handled, FEA Europe General Counsel Bill Freeman will be assigned all debt collection cases and pay grievances.

As is the current practice, all member questions about debt collection and pay matters will be sent to FEA Pacific General Counsel Mike Bauernfeind's office for intake and transfer to Bill Freeman.

We hope that this reorganization will take place without any extraordinary bumps. The intent is to redistribute workloads and to benefit from Bill Freeman's 15 years of successful experience in litigating pay issues for FEA Europe.

We have attached a Pay Problem Package. The package contains a fillable version and a print version just in case there are problems for anyone. We will repeat information in the months ahead and will stress the importance of using the Pay Problem Package. The Package has all of the instructions and forms that you will need for any pay problem. Using the package will standardize the way in which we attack pay problems and it will make all of our jobs easier if you follow the instructions. We recommend that you keep it handy maybe in your OUTLOOK 'inbox' in case you ever need it. Most debts are currently on 'hold.' At some point, DoDDS will reinitiate collections. When they do, follow the steps in the Package.

Other Tidbits

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to https://webapps.dodea.edu/lqarates/lqarates.cfm

NEH Summer Programs in the Humanities for School and College Educators: via Brian Chance, NEA Director for FEA: I have participated in several of the NEH Summer Seminars. It is a great PD opportunity with the added bonus of some funding to cover the expenses! NEH Summer Programs in the Humanities for School and College Educators Each year, NEH offers tuition-free opportunities for school, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. Stipends of $1,200-$3,900 help cover expenses for these one- to five-week programs. For more information and application instructions, please visit the websites for individual programs. Links are provided here.

The Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year Award for 2014: thanks to MeSharn Joseph, FRS and Counselor, HCES and her friend in Cuba. The Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year Award for 2014 is designated for Middle and High School US History and Govt. Teachers (grades 7-12). The National History Teacher of the Year Award is an annual prize, recognizing outstanding American History Teachers. Winners are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, and US Territories and receive a $1,000 award and an archive of books and historical resources presented to their school library. From these 53 winners, one is recognized as the National History Teacher of the Year. The award is co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, HISTORY®, and Preserve America. To nominate a teacher, go to this page and fill out the form online.

DoDDS Reunion- Check it out DoDDS teachers. The annual DoDDS reunion will be held in Richmond, Virginia, 17-20 July. For registration information: www.doddsworldreunion.com . Registration prices rise after December 31.

Happy Holidays and until the next Update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director