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Board hears O’Connor’s grievance

In a 45-minute hearing, South Central Junior-Senior High School teacher David O’Connor had his say last Tuesday in front of five of seven members of the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees.
O’Connor filed a grievance June 14 with the South Harrison Community School Corp., saying the master contract was not followed last month when he was voted down as varsity boys’ basketball coach at South Central.
Michelle L. Cooper of Bose-McKinney-Evans LLC in Indianapolis served as moderator for the hearing. She told O’Connor that he had to give specific violations of the master contract and couldn’t just simply allege ‘anything.’
O’Connor referenced what he considered to be multiple violations of the master contract.
He said the formation of a committee could not be done because there’s no language in the teaching contract that says using a committee is the policy of the board, nor is there any type of provision about a committee. The only times committees have been used in the past were in cases when there were no internal candidates, O’Connor said.
Another violation, O’Connor noted, was that the closing date for job applicants was May 21, which was 11 days before the board gave its approval for the contract.
Prior to being ratified by the board, there was a clause that in the case of extracurricular positions, persons inside the school corporation would be hired according to tenure.
‘We’re not here about a teaching position. We’re here about (an extracurricular position),’ O’Connor said. ‘If you want to have a committee, there has to be a written policy for it. The board can have any qualifications it wants when it comes to hiring a coach, but it has to be in writing.
‘This law was created to avoid personal issues or personal desires of any individual board member or group of members coming into play. There has to be set policies in writing to do things. I don’t think our board wants to work outside of the law.’
O’Connor also pointed out that the contract says teachers shall have the right to have an association representative present in all conferences with the administration when employment is being discussed.
‘We discussed my employment with the corporation. Then, the board members, the three community members, the principal and the assistant principal went on and talked for about three hours ‘ according to those who were on the committee that I’ve spoken with ‘ about my employment after that,’ O’Connor said.
Cooper asked O’Connor if he had asked for an association representative to be present or if he was denied representation.
‘No. I wasn’t given any indication that would have been acceptable,’ O’Connor said. ‘After the fact, I realized that I should have had someone there with me at the time. I didn’t even realize that was a possibility at that time. That could just be my fault.’
Finally, O’Connor said his job qualifications weren’t taken into consideration, contrary to a requirement in the contract that the board is to consider what qualifications should be used.
‘Those on the committee have indicated to me that my qualifications weren’t considered, either. (Qualifications) weren’t brought up. They were told by the board members that I would not be approved,’ O’Connor said. ‘When they voted, the vote was not based upon my qualifications either time.
‘I was told I was the choice of the community members, but Jeff Brown said he would make sure I’m not approved.’
Trustees not present at the meeting were Brown and Dr. John Gonzaba. Brown and Ray (Radar) Lillpop served on the committee to search for a new basketball coach. Keith Marshall and Karen Fleck, South Central’s principal and vice principal, respectively, also served on the committee. Three members of the South Central community were also on the committee.
Board members present at the hearing will rule on the matter at the Aug. 3 monthly meeting.