October 1, 2012, FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Michael Priser, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: October 1, 2012

WORKED IN DODDS BUT NOW IN DDESS? READ ON -- If you worked at a DoDDS school before working in DDESS, you may qualify for backpay and interest under terms of a recent FEA legal victory. An arbitrator sided with FEA's argument that DoDDS has not been granting adequate credit to many on the MA+15 and MA+30 pay lanes. If you were on those pay lanes while in DoDDS but now teach in DDESS (or if you are now retired) you should read FEA's legal update on the issue to find out if you qualify for backpay and, if so, how to proceed. That update is available here

NEW MOU FOR HS TEACHERS SIGNED -- DoDEA recently decided to replace the Element K program with Cengage and purchased the new materials last July. FEA requested bargaining immediately to ensure no gap in services for students. The new MOUs (separate ones each for DDESS and DoDDS), which provides for training on this program, are posted on the FEA website.

POSTAGE REIMBURSEMENTS STILL A PROBLEM -- Despite lengthy efforts by FEA to resolve the situation and a memorandum last June issued directly from DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald to clarify the matter, many DoDDS employees are still being denied reimbursement of postage costs for the up to 100 pounds of excess baggage (for themselves and per each family member) they are allowed to send between their duty station and their home of record during RAT travel. DFAS erroneously continues to claim that approval from the Travel Management Office (TMO) is required before a shipment is eligible for reimbursement. See FEA's legal update on this matter for background and a copy of Ms. Fitzgerald's memo. FEA's Washington office has alerted Ms. Fitzgerald to the fact the DFAS is continuing to deny reimbursement for shipping of these goods and she is looking into the matter.

HATCH ACT -- A reminder to all FEA members during the current election season: the Hatch Act forbids you from engaging in political activity while on duty, while on government property or while using government equipment. FEA urges its members to review the DoDEA Office of Special Counsel's information on the Hatch Act, including examples of both prohibited and permitted activities, available from the DoDEA General Counsel's Web site. Please remember that the Hatch Act is a very strict law with severe penalties for even first-time violations.

BULLYING PREVENTION MONTH -- October is designated at National Bullying Prevention Month. The issue of bullying, both in and out of school, has rightfully been receiving a lot of attention recently. You can find information and materials you can use to help overcome bullying not only this month but all year long at NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me site.

CYBER SECURITY AWARENESS MONTH -- It's a sign of how entrenched technology is in all of our lives that October is also designated as Cyber Security Awareness Month and National Cyber Safety Awareness Month. You can find tools for adults to help kids connect safely online at the NEA Health Information Network's site. You can find further lessons and resources at the Stay Safe Online site.

THANK YOU -- I have been on the road almost continually since mid August, visiting schools and/or attending trainings throughout Stateside, Europe and the Pacific. As I head back to FEA's Washington DC office for awhile, I am amazed (as always!) by the incredible hard work, dedication and professionalism of FEA members in each and every school I visit. Your concern for the students in your charge and your desire to see them reach their full potential, both as students and as people, is admirable and so inspiring. Thank you for all you do everyday and a special thank you to everyone who has helped me with travel arrangements, attending meetings, sharing opinions/concerns with me, or just saying "hello" over the past six weeks. The deep sense of pride and humility I have in representing such outstanding education professionals is continuously renewed each time I get the chance to see all of you in action. Thanks to you all!

I hope you have a great week and a great October.