School Leader Rebuffs Critics Of Proposed Policy Change

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Payson Unified School District Superintendent, Herb Weissenfels, has issued a rebuttal to the Payson Education Association's written opposition to proposed changes in the district's grievance policy.

The PEA contended proposed revisions in the policy are "unnecessary and counter-productive."

Parts of the PEA's opposition statement were profiled in the Oct. 29 Roundup.

At the time the story appeared, Weissenfels said he could not respond because he had not seen a copy of the PEA statement.

"I received the letter a day after it was delivered to the newspaper," he said.

In Weissenfels' rebuttal, he addressed most all concerns the PEA expressed in last week's letter of opposition. The PEA compiled the letter with the help of Arizona Education Association Organizational Consultant, Tom Kennedy.

Weissenfels countered the PEA stand that "administrators currently have the authority to deal with grievances that are false or frivolous."

"That is not true," Weissenfels wrote. "A supervisor may declare a grievance non-grievable, but a grievant can appeal that decision. The employee is fully protected and an administrator must address the issue under any circumstances."

Weissenfels denied that the language in the proposed changes is flawed by writing, and said some of the PEA's concerns are stretches of the imagination and misreadings.

In one of Weissenfels' answers, he wrote "you are stretching to the absurd."

The superintendent did agree with the PEA's contention that the new policy is vague in a section that reads "An employee shall not file a false or bad faith grievance that interrupts the education process."

PEA members questioned whether an employee can file a false grievance if it doesn't interrupt the education process.

"I can understand your confusion over this phrase," he said "I will recommend this read ‘an employee shall not file a false or bad faith grievance.'"

The superintendent said he doesn't believe the policy will hinder an employee's right to file a grievance when ethically and professional done.

"In fact, it further assures the grievant's rights and protections," he said.

Board member Viki Holmes, who attended the Arizona School Board Association law conference where Weissenfels said the proposed changes were compiled, declined to comment on the controversy.

Holmes predicted, however, the proposed changes will be a hot topic at the Nov. 8 board meeting.

"I'm sure there will be much discussion," she said.

Kennedy and PEA president Gibbar have said other members will attend to express their opposition to the changes.

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