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Power To Your Voice

Education Desk: Dec. 10, 2014

The new Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees gets sworn in at 4 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2014, just before a two-hour closed session, where two of the agenda items have to do with lawsuits. One of them was filed against the District last week in the name of Trustee Christopher Stampolis’ child.

In addition to electing new officers and making subcommittee appointments, the Board will also consider:

  • Allocating $500,000 for elementary school music education.
  • A petition from what is currently Magnolia Charter School to reorganize as a new district -based (rather than county-based) charter school, Silicon Valley STEM Academy.
  • A resolution barring Stampolis from any official role participating in SCUSD programs, attending events, or entering campuses; except under the same conditions as any other member of the public. The board censured Stampolis in November, allowing district employees to refuse contact with him after a middle school principal received a one-year restraining order against him.

Court Rules Fairchild Was Victim of Retaliation, Awards Position With Back-Pay
One legal matter before the board is the Public Employee Relations Board’s (PERB) decision in favor of Vickie Fairchild’s complaint that an employment offer made to her was rescinded in retaliation for her political activism since 2012.

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In finding that SCUSD violated California’s Educational Employment Relations Act, the court ruled that the district must offer Fairchild “full instatement” to the psychologist position she was offered – or its equivalent – and pay Fairchild what she would have earned from Aug. 20, 2013.

Fairchild formerly worked for SCUSD as a psychologist until 2012. When a part-time psychologist left at the start of the 2013-14 school year, Fairchild was offered the part-time position. An offer letter was drafted, but waited for signature by Human Resources Director Brad Syth; who testified at Fairchild’s hearing that it wasn’t unusual for certificated staff to begin work before getting a formal offer. Fairchild met with the school’s principal, was given keys to an office, and her hiring was announced to the district’s school psychologists.

During her first morning at work, the principal asked Fairchild to leave immediately, saying that Syth had been directed by SCUSD Superintendent Stan Rose “to send her [Fairchild] home.” Rose subsequently wrote Fairchild that she wasn’t employed because the job wasn’t posted and she hadn’t submitted an application.

The PERB heard the case last June, and ruled on it last month. The decision was delayed by discovering that the district hadn’t produced all the email evidence requested by Fairchild’s attorney.

Administrative Law Judge Shawn Cloughesy found that the facts of the case were that the district was hiring for the position, and Fairchild had proper credentials, despite the district’s contention that Fairchild wasn’t a valid job candidate.

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