Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 22, 2014

Troup ISD trustees votes on grievance

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

TROUP — Local school board members unanimously supported the decision of a Level II grievance issued earlier in the school year by Troup Superintendent Stuart Bird, voting on the issue after a noon Tuesday executive session.

The grievance was filed by the parent of a Troup High School student against an employee in what Bird classified as a personnel issue.

Citing confidentiality laws that are part of school district policy, the superintendent said the information he is allowed to reveal is restricted.

“I'm not avoiding the question by any stretch of the imagination, but because it was a personnel issue, I'm real, real limited as to what I can say,” he said. “I can tell you this involved a parent and an employee … with a conflict in the fall.”

Prior to the board's vote, attorney John Hardy, a Tyler lawyer who consults with area school districts, told the parent “the board has considered very carefully your issue and your request,” and concluded that because “none of us were participants in that conversation you had that day on the telephone,” they would stand with Bird's Level II decision.

“When I say something to you, it doesn't make a difference how I felt it was or what I thought I said, it belongs to you. The person who hears that, receives it,” Hardy said, reminding the parent that “we have a policy here at Troup ISD that will apply to these types of situation.

“They want you to know there is concern, (but) that the policies do not allow the district to share with whatever action may or may not have been taken against certain personnel. Under state law, the district is not allowed to share those sorts of things. But the district is aware of those situations and will see that the policies will be followed,” he explained.

According to district policy regarding public public complaints, Troup ISD “encourages the public to discuss concerns and complaints through informal conferences with the appropriate administrator.”

Handled quickly and efficiently as possible, this protocol allows “early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level,” policy states.

“Probably 99 percent” of issues are resolved at the primary level, he said, adding “this was the first time ever for this particular kind of incident.”

The grievance, filed by the parent of a TISD student, was strictly between parent and employee –  “the student was never really involved,” Bird said.