DGBA(LOCAL) - PERSONNEL-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS: EMPLOYEE COMPLAINTS/GRIEVANCES

Philosophy

The Board believes student success is best achieved in a well-functioning, positive, nurturing, and collaborative community. Therefore, the District shall provide an equitable process for addressing employee complaints that values employees, fosters positive resolution, and preserves relationships.

Guiding Principles

The Board encourages employees to discuss their concerns with their supervisor, principal, or other appropriate administrator who has the authority to address the concerns. Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible to allow early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level.

Informal resolution shall be encouraged but shall not extend any deadlines in this policy, except by mutual written consent.

Direct Communication with Board Members

Employees may communicate with a member of the Board regarding District operations except when communication between an employee and a Board member would be inappropriate because of a pending grievance related to the employee. If an employee communicates with a Board member regarding an issue which is the subject of a pending grievance, the Board member may be precluded from participating in any decision if the matter is presented to the Board.

Complaints

In this policy, the terms "complaint" and "grievance" shall have the same meaning.

Other Complaint Processes

Employee complaints shall be filed in accordance with this policy, except as required by the policies listed below. Some of these policies require appeals to be submitted in accordance with DGBA after the relevant complaint process:

  1. Complaints alleging discrimination, including violations of Title IX (gender), Title VII (sex, race, color, religion, national origin), ADEA (age), or Section 504 (disability), shall be submitted in accordance with DIA.
  2. Complaints alleging certain forms of harassment, including harassment by a supervisor and violation of Title VII, shall be submitted in accordance with DIA.
  3. Complaints concerning retaliation relating to discrimination and harassment shall be submitted in accordance with DIA.
  4. Complaints concerning instructional materials shall be submitted in accordance with EF.
  5. Complaints concerning a commissioned peace officer who is an employee of the District shall be submitted in accordance with CKE.
  6. Complaints concerning the proposed nonrenewal of a term contract issued under Chapter 21 of the Education Code shall be submitted in accordance with DFBB.
  7. Complaints concerning the proposed termination or suspension without pay of an employee on a probationary, term, or continuing contract issued under Chapter 21 of the Education Code during the contract term shall be submitted in accordance with DFAA, DFBA, or DFCA.

Notice to Employees

The District shall inform employees of this policy through the employee handbook, which is located on the District's website.

Formal Process

An employee may initiate the formal process described below by timely filing a written complaint form. [See DGBA(EXHIBIT)]

Even after initiating the formal complaint process, employees are encouraged to seek informal resolution of their concerns. An employee whose concerns are resolved may withdraw a formal complaint at any time.

The process described in this policy shall not be construed to create new or additional rights beyond those granted by law or Board policy, nor to require an evidentiary hearing or "mini-trial" at any level.

Freedom from Retaliation

The District prohibits unlawful retaliation against an employee for asserting a complaint under this policy.

Whistleblower Complaints

Whistleblower complaints shall be filed within the time specified by law and may be made to the Superintendent or designee beginning at Level Two. Timelines for the employee and the District set out in this policy may be shortened to allow the Board to make a final decision within 60 calendar days of the initiation of the complaint. [See DG]

Complaints against Supervisors

Complaints alleging a violation of law by a supervisor may be made to the Superintendent or designee. Complaint forms alleging a violation of law by the Superintendent may be submitted directly to the Board or designee.

General Provisions

Filing

Complaint forms and appeal notices may be filed by hand-delivery, by electronic communication, including e-mail and fax, or by U.S. Mail. Hand-delivered filings shall be timely filed if received by the human resources department by the close of business on the deadline. Filings submitted by electronic communication shall be timely filed if they are received by the close of business on the deadline, as indicated by the date/time shown on the electronic communication. Mail filings shall be timely filed if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on or before the deadline and received by the human resources department representative no more than three days after the deadline.

Scheduling Conferences

The District shall make reasonable attempts to schedule conferences at a mutually agreeable time. If the employee fails to appear at a scheduled conference, the District may hold the conference and issue a decision in the employee's absence.

Response

At Levels One and Two, "response" shall mean a written communication to the employee from the appropriate administrator. Responses may be hand-delivered, sent by electronic communication to the employee's e-mail address of record, or sent by U.S. Mail to the employee's mailing address of record. Mailed responses shall be timely if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on or before the deadline.

Days

"Days" shall mean District business days, unless otherwise noted. In calculating timelines under this policy, the day a document is filed is "day zero." The following business day is "day one."

Representative

"Representative" shall mean any person who or an organization that does not claim the right to strike and is designated by the employee to represent him or her in the complaint process.

The employee may designate a representative through written notice to the District at any level of this process. The representative may participate in person or by telephone conference call. If the employee designates a representative with fewer than three days' notice to the District before a scheduled conference or hearing, the District may reschedule the conference or hearing to a later date, if desired, in order to include the District's counsel. The District may be represented by counsel at any level of the process.

Consolidating Complaints

Complaints arising out of an event or a series of related events shall be addressed in one complaint. Employees shall not file separate or serial complaints arising from any event or series of events that have been or could have been addressed in a previous complaint.

When two or more complaints are sufficiently similar to permit their resolution through one proceeding, the District may, at its discretion, consolidate the complaints.

Untimely Filings

All time limits shall be strictly followed unless modified by mutual written consent.

If a complaint form or appeal notice is not timely filed, the complaint may be dismissed, on written notice to the employee, at any point during the complaint process. The employee may appeal the dismissal by seeking review in writing within ten days from the date of the written dismissal notice, starting at the level at which the complaint was dismissed. Such appeal shall be limited to the issue of timeliness.

Costs Incurred

Each party shall pay its own costs incurred in the course of the complaint.

Complaint and Appeal Forms

Complaints and appeals under this policy shall be submitted in writing on a form provided by the District.

Copies of any documents that support the complaint should be attached to the complaint form. If the employee does not have copies of these documents at the time the complaint form is filed, they may be presented at the Level One conference. After the Level One conference, no new documents or other evidence may be submitted by the employee unless the employee did not know the documents or other evidence existed before the Level One conference.

A complaint or appeal form that is incomplete in any material aspect may be dismissed but may be refiled with all the required information if the refiling is within the designated time for filing.

Audio Recording

As provided by law, an employee shall be permitted to make an audio recording of a conference or hearing under this policy at which the substance of the employee's complaint is discussed. The employee shall notify all attendees present that an audio recording is taking place.

Level One

Complaint forms must be filed with the director of talent experience within ten days of the date the employee first knew, or with reasonable diligence should have known, of the decision or action giving rise to the complaint or grievance.

The director of talent experience shall note the date and time the complaint form was received and immediately forward the complaint form to the administrator who will hear the complaint at Level One. If the only administrator who has authority to remedy the alleged problem is the Superintendent or designee, the complaint may begin at Level Two following the procedure, including deadlines, for filing the complaint form at Level One.

The assigned administrator shall investigate as necessary and schedule a conference with the employee within ten days after receipt of the written complaint. The Level One administrator may set reasonable time limits for the conference and may make an audio recording of the conference.

Absent extenuating circumstances, the Level One administrator shall provide the employee a written response within ten days following the conference. The written response shall set forth the basis of the decision. In reaching a decision, the Level One administrator may consider information provided at the Level One conference and any other relevant documents or information the Level One administrator believes will help resolve the complaint.

Level Two

If the employee did not receive the relief requested at Level One or if the time for a response has expired, the employee may file an appeal of the Level One decision with the director of talent experience.

The appeal notice must be filed in writing to the director of talent experience, on a form provided by the District, within ten days of the date of the written Level One response or, if no response was received, within ten days of the Level One response deadline.

After receiving notice of the appeal, the director of talent experience shall prepare and forward a record of the Level One complaint to the Level Two administrator. The employee may request a copy of the Level One record.

The Level One record shall include:

  1. The original complaint form and any attachments.
  2. All other documents submitted by the employee at Level One.
  3. The written response issued at Level One and any attachments.
  4. All other documents relied upon by the Level One administrator in reaching the Level One decision.
  5. The transcript of the Level One conference, if any.

The Level Two administrator shall schedule a conference within ten days after the appeal notice is filed. The conference shall be limited to the issues and documents considered at Level One. At the conference, the employee may provide information concerning any documents or information relied upon by the administration for the Level One decision. The Level Two administrator may set reasonable time limits for the conference and shall make an audio recording of the conference.

The Level Two administrator shall provide the employee a written response within ten days following the conference. The written response shall set forth the basis of the decision. In reaching a decision, the Level Two administrator may consider the Level One record, information provided at the Level Two conference, and any other relevant documents or information the Level Two administrator believes will help resolve the complaint.

The Level Two conferences shall be recorded. Recordings shall be maintained with the Level One and Level Two records.

Level Three

If the employee did not receive the relief requested at Level Two or if the time for a response has expired, the employee may appeal the decision to the Board, or at the Board's discretion, to a designated hearing officer who shall, in turn, make a written recommendation for disposition to the Board. [See If Hearing Officer Hears the Appeal, below]

The appeal notice must be filed in writing to the director of talent experience, on a form provided by the District, within ten days of the date of the written Level Two response or, if no response was received, within ten days of the Level Two response deadline.

Hearing officers may be District employees who were not involved in the subject matter of the grievance or the grievance process, or they may be persons not employed by the District.

If Board Hears the Appeal

The Superintendent or designee shall inform the employee of the date, time, and place of the Board meeting at which the complaint will be on the agenda for presentation to the Board.

The Superintendent or designee shall provide the Board the record of the Level Two appeal at least five days prior to the Level Three hearing. The employee may request a copy of the Level Two record.

The Level Two record shall include:

  1. The Level One record.
  2. The notice of appeal from Level One to Level Two.
  3. The transcript of the Level Two conference.
  4. The written response issued at Level Two and any attachments.
  5. All other documents relied upon by the administration in reaching the Level Two decision.

The appeal shall be limited to the issues and documents considered at Level Two, except that if at the Level Three hearing the administration or employee intends to rely on evidence not included in the Level Two record, the administration or employee shall provide the employee or administration notice of the nature of the evidence at least three days before the hearing.

The District shall determine whether the complaint will be presented in open or closed meeting in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act and other applicable law. [See BE]

The presiding officer may set reasonable time limits and guidelines for the presentation, including an opportunity for the employee and administration to each make a presentation and provide rebuttal and an opportunity for questioning by the Board. The Board shall hear the complaint and may request that the administration provide an explanation for the decisions at the preceding levels.

In addition to any other record of the Board meeting required by law, the Board shall prepare a separate record of the Level Three presentation. The Level Three presentation, including the presentation by the employee or the employee's representative, any presentation from the administration, and questions from the Board with responses, shall be recorded by audio recording, video/audio recording, or court reporter.

The Board shall then consider the complaint. It may give notice of its decision orally or in writing at any time up to and including the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. If the Board does not make a decision regarding the complaint by the end of the next regularly scheduled meeting, the lack of a response by the Board upholds the administrative decision at Level Two.

If Hearing Officer Hears the Appeal

If the Board designates a hearing officer to hear the Level Three appeal, he or she shall follow the Level Three procedures and timelines described above and at the end of the process shall prepare a written recommendation for the Board's consideration. A copy of the hearing officer's recommendation shall be provided to the employee and to the administration.

Hearing officers may be District employees who were not involved in the subject matter of the grievance or the grievance process. Hearing officers may also be impartial persons retained by the Board and not employed by the District.

Board's Review

The Board shall review the hearing officer's written recommendation at its first regular meeting following receipt of same. The employee and the administration shall be given an opportunity at the meeting to respond to the hearing officer's recommendation either orally or in writing, at the Board's election.

Any oral comments provided during a Board meeting shall follow the requirements for public comment, including those listed at BED(LOCAL) and in the Board's Operating Procedures.

Board's Decision

The Board shall then make and communicate its decision at any time up to and including the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The Board may decide to accept, reject, or modify the recommendation of the hearing officer.

Fort Bend ISD

DGBA(LOCAL)-X

LDU 2017.10

DATE ISSUED: 12/22/2017