December 15 2010 FEA Pacific ReportDECEMBER 15, 2010
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director
· Area Director Update
· Ready to Travel
· DoDEA Teacher of the Year
· NEA Representative Assembly
· Debt Letters
· Legal Eagle Corner
· Mark Your Calendars
· Other Tidbits
Area Director Update
Since returning from the Thanksgiving break, December has proved busy as we all suspected. To keep me focused, there are a number of tasks listed on my office board as well as a separate daily task section. Unlike last school year, I have had better success checking off an accomplished task. My top priority and number one charge continues to be ensuring that our teachers' rights are protected and that you have the best working conditions possible. Thus, your concerns will always be at the top of my task list. Resolving your concerns will ensure that you can do what you came here to do; teach the children.
Holiday wishes to all! The winter holidays and recess is here whether we are ready or not. I do hope that each are you enjoying your last week of the 2010 year with your students and preparing for a fabulous 2011. Personally, the last 6 months of this year have been much more pleasant as the FEA Pacific Area Director. I want to thank our District Officers, FRSs, Pacific UniServ and Assistant, FEA leadership, and you for all for your support. Our members work very hard at educating DODDS students. This is the genesis of our success as an Association.
Upcoming AD Activities
· January 6-7 Yokosuka Complex School Visits
· January 8 Yokosuka Complex Leadership Training (Ikego ES)
· January 10-14 Korea School Visits
· January 22 NEATA Board Meeting
Ready to Travel
Do you have your flight tickets, itineraries and passports out as you begin your packing this week? Making copies of your passports and other important documents and keeping them in a separate place with you is a smart back up plan in case anything gets lost. Is your contact information up-to-date and in your wallet or purse in case of an accident? Do you all have your travel plans and contact numbers in case of an emergency? If so, you are ready!
DoDEA Teacher of the Year
Last week DoDEA feted some its outstanding teachers. DoDEA Teacher of the Year, Angelica L. Jordan, was honored as well as our very own Pacific Teachers of the Year, Michelle K. Foust (Japan), Lori Diane Lundy (Korea) and Ronald Michael Geist. Michelle, Lori and Ron are all Pacific members of the Association. A hearty congratulations to all of these outstanding educators. Below are sites reporting on DODEA Teachers of the Year.
NEA Representative Assembly
It is never too early to begin thinking about the NEA RA. Windy Chicago will be hosting the June 29 -- July 5, 2011 event. The FEA Members' Annual Board meeting and the RA delegates will be housed in the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel. Consider running in your district as a RA delegate or at least attending the FEA Annual meeting held June 29-30. For more information on the Representative Assembly go the www.nea.org/ra
Increasingly, members communicate with me about workplace harassment and bullying. Workplace harassment can come from supervisors or from colleagues. Bullying can involve misconduct by students or it can come from parents who are disgruntled about a teacher's performance. The spectrum is broad. All of these actions can be destructive. The Association recognizes the causes and has developed remedial action to combat harassment and bullying.
If you are personally experiencing bullying or harassment, please contact your FRS. Several years ago I attended an excellent training on ‘Difficult People' and the trainer shared his PowerPoint. If you are interested in this PowerPoint, please contact your FRS and we will see that you have access to this quality presentation. NEA is a great source for information about student bullying. Check out the two sites below.
Receiving season's greetings from DFAS is definitely not on my wish list. Members continue to receive debt notices. If you receive a debt letter, please notify your FRS. If necessary, Michael Bauernfeind and Stephanie Trotter are ready to assist you.
December 17 is the deadline to nominate yourself or another member for the Area Director positions. Pleases
Pacific Legal Eagle Corner
1. DEBT TSUNAMI -- We all are painfully aware of the DFAS debt notices being sent out to the membership in the Pacific. We are not alone. Europe shares in this onslaught. To give you some sense of the immensity of the problem, we are being told that about 2,000 current and former members from around the world will be receiving collection notices. Since August we have worked over 150 debt cases. The aggregate amount of money that DFAS is claiming from these alleged debts is right at $750,000 as of two weeks ago. The flow of cases is steady. While working each case individually we are preparing for three system-wide actions that will challenge the way in which this entire collection process is being implemented.
2. POST ALLOWANCE -- Do locally hired educators receive a Post Allowance? For the purposes of the law it does not matter whether the educator is a tourist hire or an educator eligible for the Family Member Preference Program. Full time employees receive Post Allowance, even if they are not entitled personally to Living Quarters Allowance and a Transportation Agreement. The Department of State describes Post Allowance as follows:
Part-time, intermittent, and U.S. family member winter/summer hire employees are not eligible for post allowance. The post allowance is paid to eligible full-time employees even though they may not be eligible for LQA, post differential or other allowances. Post allowance is non taxable income.
3. PROBATIONARY vs. PROVISIONAL -- There is sometimes confusion over these two terms. They overlap but are different. Every DODDS educator must serve a two year trial period, when hired. This means that the teacher is probationary. If all goes well and performance is acceptable a probationary teacher can expect to pass the formal probation period after two full calendar years. Once probation is completed full due process rights regarding job tenure are conferred. The probationary status is the equivalent of "at will" employment.
For performance appraisal purposes the new probationary educator is evaluated at the provisional level. Non-probationary teachers are evaluated at the professional level. Observation and scrutiny are different for each level. In actuality there are three levels. The provisional teacher gets the most supervisor attention with formal observations that are announced and unannounced. The professional teacher participates in a Professional Growth Plan for two years with minimal observation and scrutiny. In the third year of the evaluation cycle for professional teachers, formal observations return. Then the three year cycle begins again.
4. TRIAL PERIOD -- Determining when you actually have completed your probation or trial period, as it is sometimes called, can be a bit complicated. Some qualified veterans are exempt from the 2 calendar year requirement. They need only serve a one calendar year probation. Below are modified excerpts from DODEA Regulation 1400.13. Congress changed the trial period from one to two years circa 1991.
4.4.2. Trial Period. Each educator, upon grant of a non-temporary appointment with DODDS, is required to serve a trial period of 2 calendar years beginning with the date of said appointment, except that:
188.8.131.52. An educator transferred, reassigned or reemployed without a break in service of more than 30 days, while serving a trial period with DODDS may complete the trial period in the new position.
184.108.40.206. An educator converted, or reappointed without a break in service of more than 30 days, to a non-temporary appointment shall have all such previous temporary part or full time service not interrupted by a break in service of more than 30 days credited toward completion of the trial period.
220.127.116.11. An educator who has previously completed a trial period with DODDS, and who has not had a break in service with DODDS of more than 3 calendar years since completion of the trial period, will not be required to complete a new trial period.
5. EMAIL MONITORING - What we know is that the Government asserts its right to access all communication coming through its servers. The case law in the private sector supports the right of a company to review all communication thru computers provided by the company. The same seems to be true for government entities.
What we suspect is that local managers in DODDS schools can access your email traffic without much justification. There are certainly filters on the traffic to screen for certain subjects. This is part of security. The agreement that every user must sign contains the following paragraph:
I understand that I have no expectation of privacy when using DoDEA IT resources and that all individuals using DoDEA IT resources are subject to having their activities on the system monitored and recorded. I expressly consent to such monitoring. I am aware that, if such monitoring reveals possible evidence of criminal activity or activity in violation of the Appropriate Use of DoDEA Information Technology Resources - Terms and Conditions for Employees. Contractors, and Volunteers (attachment 1), the evidence of such activity may be provided to law enforcement officials and/or to DoDEA officials for use in possible adverse personnel actions or criminal proceedings. I understand that all files stored on DoDEA IT resources are the property of DoDEA and can be made available to DoDEA employees as necessary.
Some principals might monitor key personnel. But, with all of the duties assigned to administration there is probably very little time to review much of what goes through.
Our policy should be to refrain from communication that would be embarrassing or compromising when using the DODDS servers. Denigrating a colleague or the administration over DODDS servers is just not smart. If you must vent do it privately on your own home computer.
Mark Your Calendars:
Winter Break December 18 -- January 2
Deadline to mail nominations for Area Directors December 17
School Resumes January 3
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 17
Read Across America March 2
Winter Themes - The NEA sponsors a website containing lesson plans for all ages and subjects connected with this winter season. http://www.nea.org/tools/winter-themed-classroom-resources.html. Thanks to Chuck McCarter, Europe Area Director, for sharing this site.
NEA Diversity Toolkit - http://www.nea.org/tools/18834.htm
National Endowment of the Humanities - http://www.neh.gov/projects/si-school.html
I have participated in several NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) summer seminars/institutes.
These are wonderful opportunities for professional development. ( Brian Chance) Please note the suspense date: The application deadline is March 1, 2011 (postmark). Plan ahead to complete the application on time. These seminars and institutes are offered by NEH -- not DoDEA.
NEA Health Information Network - Did you know there are a number of vaccines recommended for adults? Did you know that the viral disease known as shingles is increasing for older adults? Did you know that even though tetanus is rare in the U.S. adults over the age of 50 accounts for 70 percent of tetanus infections? To learn more visit www.neahin.org
Computer Safety Website - NEA supports the organization "bNetS@vvy". It is an organization offering trusted one-shop stop for information, tools and links to high-quality resources helping young teens stay safe online. www.bnetsavvy.org
Federal Retirement Website - FEA Europe Area Director Chuck McCarter shared the following website with me. I checked it out and subscribed for their newsletters. http://www.myfederalretirement.com/public/709.cfm
Yen and Won Rates - To check the rates go to https://webapps.dodea.edu/lqarates/lqarates.cfm
Until the next update,
Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director