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February 8, 2011 FEA Pacific Update

FEBRUARY 8, 2011
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

· Area Director Update
· Staffing Document/Vacancies
· Transfer Program
· VERA/Early Separation Award
· February Celebrations
· NEA's ‘Read Across America'
· Separating or Retiring Educator Reminder
· Did You Know?
· Legal Eagle Corner
· Mark Your Calendars
· Other Tidbits


Area Director Update
Second semester is here, February is in full swing, Super Bowl XLV is now history and the Transfer Program is on the horizon. When writing the Update, I review my calendar and log to let you know what has taken place since the previous Update. Catching up on correspondence is a luxury I seldom get with all of my commitments for travel. This past couple of weeks I have spent mostly in my office. I did attend the Saturday NEATA Board meeting on 22 January. Listening to how FRS's resolve issues is important. We all learn by sharing in this fashion. My circle of communication includes DODDS, the FEA National Office, all three District Presidents, the FEA Pacific attorney, local leaders and our members. If you have contacted me and I have not yet responded, please send me a reminder.

Upcoming AD Activities
· February 22-25 Okinawa School Visits and Area JCC
· February 26-28 PAL Council Meeting in Okinawa
· March 14-25 FEA Board of Directors Meeting/Transfer Program, D.C.

Staffing Documents/Vacancies
Principals have received the staffing documents and should be working with your FRS on next year's staffing and educational program. These documents will help determine the number of teachers a school needs as well as possible excess and vacancies. The success of the Transfer Program depends on the vacancies that you and your FRS report. The FRS should notify the District President so that any discrepancies and be worked out with the Superintendent. I will also see that any ambiguities are taken care of at the Area level.

Transfer Program
The 2011-12 Transfer Program Announcement and members are reading the TP MOU and starting their applications. The Transfer Program announcement can be found at http://feaonline.org/media/transfers/SY_2011-12_Transfer_Progam_Announcement.PDF. Here is the link for the application.

This next link leads you to information about every DoDEA school. Thanks, to Alex Veto, Europe AD, for sharing.

Look for ‘Tips for Transfer' on the FEA website. It will updated soon. Remember to have your membership login ID.

The deadline for submitting transfer applications to your building principals is February 25, 2011. The first round of the Transfer Program will begin March 14, 2011. Attached is DDESS information.

VERA/Early Separation Award
FEA has asked that the deadline for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and the Early Separation Award be extended. We would like to see a robust Transfer Program, please contact your principal immediately if you are interested in either of these. The deadline for VERA and Early Retirement/Separation Award is February 23rd.

February Celebrations
For Black History Month, NEA has a selection of lesson plans for multiple grade levels: http://www.nea.org/tools/black-history-with-maps.html. February is also Library Lover's month: http://www.librarysupport.net/librarylovers/. Next week is Random Acts of Kindness.

NEA's "Read Across America"
Read Across America is a little less than a month. Gear up and be ready for this fun day. For ideas on how your school can take part, go to http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm

Separating or Retiring Educators
If you are planning to separate or retire at the end of this year, it is strongly recommended that you revert back from 26 to 21 pay periods in April/May.

Did you Know?
Involuntary Reassignment-Article 10 of the Negotiated Agreement covers involuntary reassignment.

The need to effect a reassignment is a right retained by the Employer. While involuntary reassignments shall be kept to a minimum, pursuant to the Employer's education mission, it may become necessary to involuntarily reassign a unit employee either from one school location to another school location or from one assignment in one grade/subject area to another grade/subject area with different qualification standards from the grade/subject area currently being taught. Whenever possible, and if time permits, the Employer shall accomplish such reassignments through the use of qualified volunteers. Whenever qualified volunteers are not available, an individual may be selected for involuntary reassignment with as much advance notice as circumstances warrant. The written notice for involuntary reassignment will contain the following as a minimum:
A. reason(s) for the reassignment;
B. why the unit employee was selected;
C. an opportunity for the individual to give reasons why he/she should not be reassigned. In this statement the individual should include any extenuating circumstances of a personal nature which she/he feels should be taken into consideration.

Pacific Legal Eagle Corner

1. The best advice of the week is for those educators facing a notification of debt to the Government - Do NOT file a hearing and stay request directly with your Customer Service Representative. Send all documentation to the UNISERV General Counsel Office first. This will ensure that your circumstances will be tailored to the remedies available to us from the law. However, filing a Pay Inquiry with the CSR is always a good idea to begin with, especially if you are missing documentation like an LES or Standard Form 1190. The CSR can help you obtain the documentation that you will need to send to the UNISERV Office.

2. Does Workers Compensation really exist? Having worked in this area of the law for many years, I can verify that it does exist. Does it actually provide a quick and effective benefit to members? In my estimation, I would say no. Consider that only work related injuries while you are at the work site are compensable. The Going and Coming Rule, excludes from coverage any accidents or injuries commuting on the way to school. After you arrive at school and are injured you have a right to apply for benefits. You medical treatment has to be approved by the Department of Labor. As soon as you mention to your own FEHB carrier that you have had an injury at work, the insurance company will refuse to pay anything. If you had a traumatic injury DODDS will pay your full salary for 45 days.

If you are suffering from an "industrial illness", you will receive two thirds of your base pay if you are single until released by the appointed physician. An industrial illness is typically related to some environmental problem at school. In the past, I have represented members who became ill because of exposure to Gobi Dust, fresh paint at school, fumes from newly laid flooring, inadequate heating and cooling and mold. You body's reaction to all of these environmental stressors constitutes an industrial illness.

If you initially used educator leave before filing a claim based on industrial illness, it can take DFAS as much as a year to adjust your leave account. In fairness, the program was designed to be better than it actually is. Benefits come slowly and the bureaucracy is maddening.

No one can be forced to file for workers compensation. Normally, the school nurse will verify that you have been seen for the injury, but it is the principal who certifies a claim as work related. The interface between the Rehabilitation Act , Disability Retirement and Workers Compensation is complex. Let' save that discuss for another issue of the Update.

Mark Your Calendars:
Black History Month - February
Children's Dental Health Month -February
Random Acts of Kindness Week -February 6-12
Valentine's Day - February 14
Presidents' Day - February 21
Read Across America http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm - March 2

Worth Repeating:

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.

Annuity Estimates for Retirement - DLA has the following web site those who want an annuity estimate: http://www.hr.dla.mil/resources/benefits/retire.html Print a copy of the submission for your record.

You can also go into EBIS for an annuity estimate. If all federal service was with DoDDS and with no breaks in service with DoDDS, the estimate in EBIS will be the same they would receive from DLA. There will be no difference.

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