I will admit, I have not been involved with our Board Of Education for a very long time. I have not witnessed or followed their policy decisions. When the transportation fiasco began, I felt strongly that something needed to happen to prevent the BOE from making such a mistake as to letting go of our drivers and re-appointing Pam Nicholais as our Transportation Director.
When Mrs. Radulic decided to reduce the transportation force, Rich Alexander voted to re-appoint Pam Nicholais as the Transportation Director with a salary increase. How can we let go of 11 drivers, but give the Director a raise? That just didn’t sit well with me. I will add, Carol Scheneck did not vote to re-appoint Pam Nicholais - this is one of the few decisions Carol made that I agreed with.
Many community members, Union representatives and drivers expressed their concerns with the decisions to create a new job description of Permanent Substitute Driver. And in the same meeting to hire 6 drivers back into this position. What was not shared, and certainly never made clear to the public until I asked Mrs. Radulic at a September Board meeting was these drivers would not receive sick or vacation time any more and they were not considered Union members. Was this an attempt at Union busting??
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Just recently, our Board recalled 3 drivers who were let go during the reduction in force, they also approved a Memorandum to Agreement between the Roxbury Board of Education and the Teamsters Local 97 of New Jersey. This Memorandum of Agreement states several interesting items, in my opinion, the first being:
“The Association shall immediately, with the signing of the Memorandum, withdraw the Class Action Grievances filed in relation to the above referenced matter”
Also this -
“The parties agree as follows:
All six (6) current permanent substitute drivers (“Drivers” shall be reinstated as bus drivers, and shall receive all rights afforded to them under the Agreement retroactively to September 1, 2016. For the 2016-17 school year, the Drivers will be assigned their base routes by the Transportation Director. The Drivers will be eligible for the pool from which weekly/daily trips are selected.”
Now, many people who witnessed these decisions voiced concern that the members voting in support of these actions were opening the door to litigation. We were proven to be correct. Rich Alexander and Carol Scheneck both voted Yes to the new position and to the hiring of the drivers in these positions. Those who voted yes, cost our district over $3,000 just for attorney fees related to the Memorandum.
And then there was this, Mrs. Radulic’s explanation as to why the drivers were brought back as full time drivers. See, at the last meeting on 10/17/16, she explained the reason for this was “due to illness and retirements”. Seems according to the Memorandum to Agreement, this statement is not completely accurate. Remember, as I mentioned above - the Union agreed to withdraw the Class Action Grievances they had filed upon approval of the Memorandum to Agreement.
We don’t know yet how much money in total has been wasted on dealing with all the Grievances that were filed. And remember, it isn’t just the money our tax dollars paid to the attorney for their work on this, it’s also the district employees who are having to work on this rather than focus on more important issues that would truly benefit our schools and students.
Sadly, Dan Masi is a casualty in this. For me, his decision to run with Carol Scheneck and Rich Alexander shows poor judgment and I cannot trust that will be the only decision I will not agree with.
I am curious to know how many other bad decisions were made and how much it has cost our district. We need to have members on the board who are willing to look at the entire picture and vote on what is right, what is really going to benefit our community and most of all our children. We also need open communication at meetings and not be met with dead stares when questions are asked.