May 7 2012 FEA Pacific Update

MAY 07, 2012
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Update
Teacher Appreciation Week and National Teacher Day
Upcoming Spring Training and Visitors
2011-12 District Elections
Belated Thanks
K-3 BAS testing decision
NEA Representative Assembly and FEA Annual Membership Meeting
Principal Assignments
Going to Europe?
Do you know the Negotiated Agreement? Article 27 -- Extra Curricular Activities
Legal Eagle Corner
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits

Area Director Update: Can you believe that we have only five weeks left to the school year? Since the last Update, I visited schools in Okinawa, met with Dr. Bloom for consultations, conducted the second PAL Council meeting of the year, attended the FEA Board of Directors meeting in D.C. and participated in Transfer Program Round. After Spring Break I closed my eyes for a minute and now it is May! For those of you, who were not able to catch me during this hectic time, please accept an apology. I try to be available to all members when there is a need for guidance or information. I know that you are all busy right now bringing the school year to a close. This can be exciting but also stressful. Please take time to share with your colleagues all of the successes for this academic year. We all need to celebrate what we have accomplished and the challenges that we have overcome. Now is the perfect time for me to thank you all for the miracles that you work every day with our students. My hat goes off to all of you.

The following is an overview of my calendar:
Area Director Activities:
April 30 True Colors Training at ZAHS
May 2 DCO test with Pacific ISS
May 8 Teleconference Area Office
May 10 Teleconference Area Office
May 10 Yongsan School Visit
May 11 TEAK FRS Spring Training
May 12 TEAK Board Meeting
May 14-15 Okinawa Visit
May 15 AEAO Retirement Celebration
May 16 AEAO FRS Spring Training
May 18 NEATA FRS Spring Training
May 19 NEATA Board Meeting
May 19-21 PAL Council Meeting

Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-12: This is the week to thank a teacher and take action to ensure public school educators are recognized, valued, and respected. Visit the National Teacher Day web page to learn more. May 8 is specifically designated as National Teacher Day. It is a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only. NEA and its affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week of May. In May of 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress that created a national day of teacher recognition on the Tuesday of the first full week of May.

Upcoming Spring Training and Visitors: 11 May kicks off our first FRS Spring training in Yongsan, then 16 May in Okinawa and finally 18 May at the New Sanno in Tokyo. FEA President, Michael Priser; FEA General Counsel, HT Nguyen, FEA Secretary/Treasurer, Anita Lang, will visit during this time. This spring we will have the special honor of hosting NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel. He will be addressing the leadership at the FRS training. He has also been invited to address the Japan Teachers Union. We are very fortunate to have Dennis visit with us during his busy schedule.

2011-2012 Pacific FEA Leaders: First, I want to thank each and every FRS and District Officer for your dedication and hard work. Many of you will continue to serve next school year while others may be taking off the mantle of responsibility for some well deserved rest and or new adventures.

Belated Recognition for a Great HCRC Training: Hard work by the District Human and Civil Rights Coordinators has paid off. The March Juggling Elephants training by Tamara Hamilton, former DoDDS teacher and recently retired from the NEA, was a smashing success. A number of participants in the three districts sent their accolades and appreciation for the training. Tamara related to FEA HQ and me how much she cherished and appreciated the messages!

K-3 BAS Testing Decision: In spite of your input, Ms. Fitzgerald decided to go through with spring BAS testing. As you know, FEA declared impasse and has a scheduled meeting with Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services. I have been in contact with the Pacific Area Office and they confirmed the plan to go ahead with testing and will honor the Fall BAS MOU, specifically as it relates to the printing of tests, substitute coverage and inputting of data. FEA asks you to follow directives and notify the District President if the MOU is not followed.

NEA Representative Assembly/FEA Annual Membership Meeting: The RA in Washington, D.C., will be upon us before we know it. The FEA delegation will be staying at the Fairmont Hotel, which will also be the site of the FEA annual meeting. All FEA members are welcome to attend the annual meeting on 29 & 30 June. The NEA Representative Assembly is held July 1-5. To find out more, contact your District President. Each district has an elected delegate to represent you at the RA and annual meeting. Let the delegates know your concerns.

Principal Assignments: We have asked the Pacific Area Office to release assignments for principal next school year. When received we will publish for the membership.

Going to Europe?: FEA Europe Area Director Lisa Ali has shared with us the new UK visa procedures. Look for an article that I will pass to your FRS by former Area Director Chuck McCarter about driving in France.

Do you know the Negotiated Agreement? Article 27 covers Extra Curricular Activities. Section 1 details how extracurricular positions should be filled. Section 2 explains that a written agreement with duties, rate of pay and length of activity outside of the duty day is required. Section 3 addresses how to add a new activity. If there is a conflict, Section 4 directs you to DoDDS Regulation 5590.9 for resolution.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: Allow me to mention a smattering of personnel issues and legal actions that have arisen this past quarter.
1. Good Bye Grievances - Sayonara Grievances in Japan and Ahn Nyeung Grievances in Korea. They translate into the same protection for you if you are departing DODDS. We have found that separation from DODDS does not protect you from persistent review of your pay record by DFAS. Here in the Pacific we are proceeding to arbitration in August to challenge debt collection procedures against retired members. We are hoping to win and have the alleged debts against 16 former FEA members thrown out. Europe General Counsel Bill Freeman has been attacking DFAS for over a decade. Recently, he obtained a totally successful arbitration decision that confirmed the right of members to use Good Bye grievances to challenge putative debt claims by DFAS. The best advice at this point is for you to file before you separate from DODDS or from the bargaining unit. In other words, when you receive a transfer to the Med, where the Overseas Federation of Teachers is the exclusive union, you should file an FEA Good Bye grievance as well. We need all of the protection we can get against DFAS.

2. Postponed Retirement: Normally, you are not eligible to continue your Federal medical insurance after you separate from DODDS, unless you receive an immediate annuity thereafter. Normal retirement means that the Government continues to contribute about 65% of your FEBH premium for the remainder of your life. You continue to kick in 35%. However, if you meet the minimum retirement age in FERS you can ask for a postponed retirement. People do this because they do not want their retirement penalized by as much as 5% a year for every year between the Minimum Retirement Age and age of 62. So they postpone receiving an annuity until reaching age 62. Until that time a teacher might want to return to the States to care for a declining parent, or the teacher might just want to take a break from teaching altogether. The beauty is this. With the postponed retirement, as soon as you reach age 62 and begin receiving an annuity, you qualify to pick up medical coverage under the same terms and conditions you had while still working for DODDS. If you were to quit DODDS and not meet the Minimum Retirement Age you would not be able to pick up the FEHB coverage at all. This can be a tremendous loss if you are not careful. Here is how Office of Personnel Management puts it:
If you are covered by FERS and eligible for an immediate retirement at separation from government service, you may postpone receiving your annuity to avoid the age reduction. You are eligible to reenroll for health benefits and life insurance coverage when you begin to receive your postponed annuity, if you were eligible to continue the coverage in retirement.

3. Extended LQA: According to DODEA Headquarters and the State Department, a teacher who is being removed who cannot get a pack-out date within the time before removal, can apply for up to a 14 day extension of LQA, without being in a pay status. This is an important detail to keep in mind especially knowing that DODDS Pacific has fired eight teachers since Christmas.

4. Brutal Statistics: In the Pacific there are currently a total of 147 educators who are joined 12 separate association grievances awaiting arbitration. Of 129 new pay cases since the beginning of this school year, 75 have been closed, either because the debts were determined to be valid or because Assistant UNISERV Stephanie Trotter was able to have the debt canceled. This leaves 54 open pay cases being worked continuously on through the end of this school year. The total number of pay cases in our inventory for the school year is 276. This means that approximately 18% of the Pacific membership is currently being affected by a pay or debt problem. It pays to be a member!

Mark Your Calendars (for more information go to

May 1-31 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 1-31 Better Hearing and Speech Month
May 1-7 National Physical Education and Sport Week
May 1-7 National Teacher Appreciation Week
May 8 National Teacher Day
May 9 National School Nurse Day
May 9 Completion of Transcontinental Railroad in 1869
May 13 Mother's Day
May 17 Anniversary of School Desegregation Ruling
May 19 National Kids to Park Day
May 20-21 Lindbergh Flight Anniversary
May 22 International Day for Biological Diversity
May 29 Memorial Day


Thanks to Brian Chance, NEA Director for FEA, for sharing the professional development opportunity.

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

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:

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

Until the next update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director