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Jefferson Parish


Please register to keep in touch with your colleagues


No doubt you are tired of filling out forms, but please take the time to click this link and complete an online form:


http://leadernet.aft.org/formmaker/take/survey.cfm?id=a2f20577-cb8f-8b37-7564-ad15b772d5a8


LFT is putting together a list of all our displaced members. Right now, we need this list to help your school systems get you back to work as soon as possible. We want to know where you are, and how you are doing, and what is needed to get your lives back to some semblance of normality.


In the months - and perhaps years - to come, this list will be the basis for an online community of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita survivors. We will compare experiences, give each other the support that only people who have shared a great catastrophe can give, and offer assistance as we all rebuild our lives.


Please complete the form. We care deeply about our members, and we want to keep our family together.


NEW INFORMATION POSTED WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2005 IS UNDERLINED.


 


IMPORTANT NOTICE:


 


If you are an employee of the Jefferson Parish School Board, you were required to report to work on Wednesday, September 21, 2005.


 


If you were unable to return, you should call your principal/immediate supervisor.


 


If you are unable to reach the principal or immediate supervisor, then call the Personnel Department at:


 


                        (504)    349-7855                               


349-7845


                                    349-7846


 


Be sure to keep a log of the dates and times that you attempted to reach each of these numbers, and the result (for example: line busy, no service because of hurricane, etc.).


 


If you are unable to reach your principal or immediate supervisor, or the Personnel Department, then call the JFT office at (504) 454-5047, or send a fax to the JFT office at (504) 454-5067 and give us:


 


1. Your name


2. Your current residence address


3. Your current contact/phone number


4. Your school


5. Your former residence address.


6. The specific reason(s) why you were unable to return on September 21, 2005. The Personnel Department will closely review each reason.


 


POST KATRINA/RITA UPDATE (October 12, 2005)


This issue of the JEFFERSON TEACHER is another of a series in our efforts to provide teachers and school employees with factual information regarding the Jefferson Parish Public School System and the Jefferson Federation of Teachers.


Qs &As



Q. It was reported to me that the Personnel Department was processing medical sabbatical leaves. However, I was denied. Why?


A. The Personnel Department is only processing emergency medical leave sabbatical requests at this time. You were probably denied because of a lack of medical documentation or you requested a medical sabbatical leave for the incorrect reason(s). For example, under state law, the school system can only grant a medical sabbatical leave for the reasons stated in the law, not due to unforeseen family situations that do not pertain to the health of the teacher.


Q. I am a participant in the Section 457 Supplementary Retirement Program sponsored by ING. Can I withdraw some of my contributions for unforeseen circumstances due to the Hurricane Katrina and or Rita catastrophes?


A. Yes. In working with Mark Tusa, Regional Manager for ING, as well as the Section 457 Committee, a streamlined paperless process for withdrawal of participants’ funds has been established. Due to the catastrophes, this has been classified as an unforeseeable emergency and the 10% penalty for withdrawal of participants’ funds will not occur. In order to withdraw your funds due to an unforeseeable emergency, telephone ING customer representatives at 1-800-525-4225. Be sure to have your information regarding your ING account readily available prior to making the call.


Q. I’m confused about retiring and returning to work and whether or not I kept my seniority. Please explain.


A. Effective July 1, 2002, the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana implemented LSA-R.S. 11:710 that repealed all previous retiree return to work laws. This law provided that an eligible employee could retire and return to work without having to stay out of the classroom for twelve (12) consecutive months. On December 4, 2002, the JFT and then Superintendent Elton Lagasse negotiated a change to the collective bargaining Agreement as follows: "Effective with the 2002-03 school year, teachers that meet the requirements of LSA R.S. 11:710 and continue employment with the school system shall not have their continuous service record broken for purposes of seniority." This memorandum has been included into the current Agreement, Definitions, Article 8, Section C. 2. b. Teachers who want to exercise this contractual right under the Agreement can continue to do so. The Personnel Department is continuing to process these requests.


JFT FYI’S



The annual JFT Building Representative Workshop that was to be held on September 16, 2005, at the Airport Hilton Hotel was cancelled and will not be rescheduled this year.



The Louisiana Federation of Teachers Convention that was to be hosted by the JFT this November has been cancelled.



The annual JFT Retiree Luncheon will be postponed until next year and combined with this year’s retirees.



The annual JFT Night at the New Orleans Hornets has been cancelled.



The annual JFT Building Representative Workshop that was to be held on September 16, 2005, at the Airport Hilton Hotel was cancelled and will not be rescheduled this year.



The Louisiana Federation of Teachers Convention that was to be hosted by the JFT this November has been cancelled.



The annual JFT Retiree Luncheon will be postponed until next year and combined with this year’s retirees.


Unemployment compensation update


The JFT office has received inquiries about unemployment compensation from individuals that have since returned to work on September 21, 2005, or later. The following is information JFT has received from Peter Wright, attorney, Louisiana Department of Labor.



As of this time, the following procedure is the best way to close out debit cards:





1. Activate the card, withdraw the entire balance and deposit in checking account.



2. Send check, certified mail, return receipt requested, for the entire balance to:



Attn: UI Accounting


La. Department of Labor


P.O. Box 94094


Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9094



3. Enclosed with your check, send a cover letter including the following information:



Claimant’s name and current address


Claimant’s Social Security Number (this is essential)


Explain why the money is being returned, for example,


school system continued to pay me, I changed my


mind, I don’t want it, etc.





4. Destroy the card. (Alternatively, you may return the card to a Chase branch and formally close the account)



This is the best and most secure way to stop the claim and return the funds. The method outlined above is the one that should close out the claim quickly.


Red Cross update


The Red Cross, JFT and JPPSS have teamed together to ensure that all Jefferson Parish Public School employees have the opportunity to register for Red Cross assistance. The JFT staff is in the process of completing this task and hope to have it completed no later than Friday, October 21, 2005.


Post-Katrina update: Potts’ Points (October 3, 2005)


 


Over the last month, all of us have been through, what one teacher described to me as, “living hell.” It is hard to find someone that has not been personally affected by these creations of Mother Nature. While it will take all of us some time to pick up all the pieces, we must realize that life as we once new it, will never be the same. I believe that this holds true four our personal and professional lives. As we are all edgy, frustrated, irritable and thirsting for facts, it is JFT’s intent to provide you with up to date, factual information regarding your professional life in the Jefferson Parish Public School System in the first of many POST KATRINA/RITA UPDATE.


 


This first issue will address the most current rumors that are circulating throughout the school system and have been brought to JFT’s attention. You can access the lft-aft-.org website that has more information regarding our school district.


 


Question I was told that the collective bargaining Agreement is not in force due to the hurricane(s). Is this true?


 


Answer No, you were told incorrect information. The JFT and the school board have not agreed to waive any provisions of the Agreement due to the hurricane(s) as of this writing, September 28, 2005.


 


Question I was told that the school system is broke and we (teachers) will not have jobs. Is this true?


 


Answer No, you were told incorrect information. The school system received its MFP allocation for September, 2005. At the BESE meeting on September 27, 2005, it appears that the school system will continue to receive MFP funds through October, 2005. These allocations are based on our student enrollment figures from the October 1, 2004, student count. Future state funding at this level can only be changed by the state legislature.


 


At the end of last fiscal year, the school system had an adequate fund balance. We are awaiting reimbursement from FEMA for clean up costs. A hiring freeze of personnel has been instituted, except in critical areas. In order to cut and project future costs, the Personnel Department is determining the number of teachers and school employees that have retired, resigned or taken a leave without pay since August 29, 2005. In addition, the school board is prepared to borrow the necessary money to keep the school system operating until we begin collecting sales tax and property taxes after the first of the year.


 


Question I was told that student enrollments are down and teachers will be involuntarily transferred or lose their jobs because of this. Is this true?


 


Answer First of all, no one with any degree of credibility can predict the number of students that will ultimately show up for school. Just as schools that could not re-open on October 3rd have been housed at other facilities, transfers may occur. At this time, no decisions have been made about involuntarily transferring teachers, due to the fact that definitive numbers in regard to those students who will return as well as registration for new students is still ongoing. The same can be said about a reduction in force. For further information, see Question No. 13, below.


 


Note: In my conversations with the superintendent, it is her intent to keep the teaching staff intact as best as possible. That is one reason why she readily agreed to continue to pay teachers’ salaries and benefits through the September 30th payroll. We are awaiting the outcome of the proposed funding on the national level (Congress) and FEMA that would assist our school system with the continuing payment of teachers’ salaries.


 


Question I was told that the school system is not allowing any sabbatical leaves, extended sick leaves, etc. Is this true?


 


Answer No, you were told incorrect information. The school system will continue to process any leaves that a teacher is eligible for, with the appropriate documentation and request form. These leaves include all that are found in the collective bargaining Agreement, as well as those provided by state law. For further information, see Questions #4 and #7, below.


 


Question I was told that teachers who retired and returned to work will be the first ones to be laid off because they have no seniority. Is this true?


 


Answer No, you were told incorrect information. According to the collective bargaining Agreement, a teacher who takes advantage of this benefit keeps their original starting date. Should a reduction in force be implemented in the future, such reduction would be done by seniority. Therefore, they would be ranked by their original start date.


 


ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


(NEW INFORMATION POSTED WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12 IS UNDERLINED)


 


JFT’s office in Metairie has reopened. You may contact JFT staff at (504) 454-5047.


The JFT Health and Welfare Office has also reopened. You may contact their staff at (504) 455-7261.


 


JFT members know to rely on their union for accurate and current information. The following is a compilation of questions that we have received. Please note: each answer shows the date that it was last updated.  We recommend that you regularly check this website at www.lft-aft.org for current information, since developments are occurring very quickly. We also recommend that you check the Jefferson Parish School Board’s website at www.jppss.k12.la.us.


 


1. Did the School board direct deposit our September 15 salary into our accounts?


 


(updated 9/26) Yes. If the deposit didn’t appear by September 15, then you should call Raylyn Stevens at (504) 349-7625. The JFT has informed the school system that some new employees did not receive their money. At the School Board meeting on September 21, the administration acknowledged that some new teachers did not get paid, but now all of the information has been placed in the payroll system. Supplemental checks will be issued to these employees.


 


2. Will we receive our September 30 salary?


 


(updated 10/3) Yes. If the deposit hasn’t appeared, you should call Raylyn Stevens at (504) 349-7625.


 


3. What if I am paid with paper checks rather than direct deposit?


 


(updated 9/26) The Superintendent stated at the meeting on September 14 that paper checks will be issued whenever possible, and distributed when the school system has a valid address for the employee. The JFT has informed the school system that some new employees did not receive their checks. At the School Board meeting on September 21, the administration acknowledged that some new teachers did not get paid, but now all of the information has been placed in the payroll system. Supplemental checks will be issued to these employees.


 


4. The school board initially told us that we were supposed to report October 3, 2005. Then they pushed it up to September 21, and their website on September 14 stated that “reporting is critical for continued employment and compensation.” Does this mean that we won’t receive our September 30 check if we don’t report to work on September 21, 2005?


 


(updated 9/20) You will still receive salary through September 30, 2005.


 


5. I’ve heard a rumor that if I didn’t show up for work on September 21, I won’t have a job. Is this true?


 


(updated 10/12) It isn’t true. But both the administration and the school board are concerned that some employees have not reported, and haven’t called to state why.


 


Employees who fail to report and fail to call with good reason are at risk of employment action. The administration has compiled a list of employees who failed to report and didn’t call, and is now in the process of making employment decisions. The JFT will have input in regard to these decisions. Employees must call to explain their reason(s) for not reporting to work.


 


Employees who are unable to return to work should apply for the applicable leave of absence.


 


6. I have tried to reach my principal/immediate supervisor, and the Personnel Department, but I couldn’t get through. What should I do?


 


(updated 9/26) Be sure to keep a log of the dates and times that you attempted to reach each of these numbers, and the result (for example: line busy, no service because of hurricane, etc.).


 


If you are unable to reach your principal or immediate supervisor, or the Personnel Department, then call the JFT office at (504) 454-5047, and give us:


 


1. Your name


2. Your current residence address


3. Your current contact/phone number


4. Your former residence address.


5. Your school


6. The specific reason(s) why you are unable to return. The Personnel Department will closely review each reason.


 


7. I reached my supervisor and explained why I couldn’t report. I was told that  I would have to take sick leave…I was told that my pay would be docked…I was told that I would be fired…I was told…


 


(updated 10/12) The administration has agreed to carefully consider your particular circumstance that caused you to be unable to report on September 21. They are aware that many employees have serious transportation problems, flooding problems, etc. The Superintendent has told us that she understands – and is sympathetic – that there will be employees who could not arrange for transportation or housing before October 3. They will make a case-by-case determination. We have no reason to believe that the administration will punish employees who have legitimate situations that prevented them from returning on September 21.  However, it is imperative for you to call and to provide a reason, and if you are still unable to return, then you must apply for a leave of absence.


 


8. I couldn’t report for work on October 3.  Will I be fired for not reporting? Can I apply for a leave of absence without pay? Sabbatical leave? Sick leave? Extended sick leave?


 


(updated 10/12)  If you did not report on October 3, you must contact the Personnel Department and  advise them of your particular circumstance. You should then apply for the appropriate leave of absence that applies to your situation. The administration is compiling a list of employees who failed to report and didn’t call, and will then make employment decisions. The JFT will have input in regard to these decisions.


 


The school system will continue to process any leaves that a teacher is eligible for, with the appropriate documentation and request form. These leaves include all that are found in the collective bargaining Agreement, as well as those provided by state law.


 


The administration has told the union that there will be strict compliance with school board policies and state laws governing leaves. For example, if you apply for a medical leave, you must have proper medical substantiation.


 


If you intend to apply for a leave without pay: we have asked the administration to declare that leaves without pay which are granted because of Hurricanes Katrina/Rita should not interrupt the accumulation of active service time that is necessary to be eligible for a sabbatical leave.


 


9. I want to return but I have no housing to return to. Will the school board provide housing for me?


 


(Updated 10/12)  As of September 21, 2005, hundreds of temporary trailers were ordered for temporary housing for employees. They have not been approved or delivered because FEMA has changed the process. It is as follows:


 


            1. FEMA now requires an Individual Assistance Application to be completed by each person requesting temporary housing.


            2. A copy of this form will be given to each person who contacted the school system who requested temporary housing.


            3. Anyone who received money for living expenses as a result of Hurricane Katrina (rent/housing) is not eligible for a trailer.


            4. If given a trailer, FEMA will make monthly visits to see what progress an individual has made to secure other housing. Therefore, the trailer is to be viewed as temporary, and not a long-term solution to housing.


            5. Individuals are also required to secure their own sites for the trailers.


 As of October 3, you should be performing your usual duties and responsibilities.


 


The JFT is compiling a list of persons who need housing. Please call us at (504) 454-5047 so that we may place your name on the list.


 


10. I want to return but my children are settled in a new school district in another parish or state. What should I do?


 


(updated 9/16) We know that this is an awfully difficult decision for many of our members. However, we understand that you must necessarily do whatever is best for your family. If you are unable to return, you should contact your immediate supervisor, or Mr. Ceruti.


 


11. What will I be doing when I report?


 


(updated 10/3)  As of October 3, you should be performing your usual duties and responsibilities.


 


12. Will I be required to perform manual labor? What if I have a medical condition that prevents me from doing anything strenuous?


 


(updated 9/21) We have expressed concern to the administration that employees should not be required to anything that will place your health and safety at risk. We would hope that your physical abilities and limitations would be taken into account. If you have physical or medical limitations, you should notify your supervisor.


 


13. Are the schools really in shape to return?


 


(updated 10/3) The majority of schools are suitable.


 


14. What will happen if there aren’t enough students? Too many students? Not enough teachers? Too many teachers?


 


(updated 10/12) The JFT is involved in this process. Based upon Florida’s 2004 hurricane experience, the school system expects the number of students to increase throughout the school year. Student counts will be taken throughout the month of October, and employment decisions will be made after the end of the month. At the School Board meeting on September 21, the Superintendent stated that if it is necessary to impose a reduction in force (“RIF”) it will be on a system-wide basis. Employees without certification, and new hires, are primarily at risk – but – a reduction in force may not be necessary at all, depending on the number of students, and the number of teachers. Also, the JFT and the administration are seeking additional revenue from the deferral government, to maintain all working employees, which would make implementing a RIF a moot point.


 


There are many rumors floating around. Before believing information that you may hear, and before communicating it to others, verify that the source is either the school district or the union.


 


15. How will the lost days be made up?


 


(updated 10/12) The amended calendar previously proposed did NOT go into effect on October 10, 2005.  The school system will continue with regular school days until further notice. The extended school day did NOT begin October 10, 2005.


 


The Superintendent has asked the State Department of Education to excuse all days missed. She has also asked that the first semester end as scheduled, so that more students would be able to return to the Jefferson Parish Public School System.


 


To date, the State Department of Education has not excused any days for any school system. If you hear otherwise, it is a rumor.


 


Depending on the State Department of Education ruling, the Board will be presented with other alternative calendars.


 


In case the 23 ½ days are not excused, or fewer days are excused, the calendar committee will reconvene prior to the Board meeting to reconsider the following choices:


 


            a. reducing the number of holidays


            b. adding minutes to each school day


            c. utilizing exam days, records days, and staff and development days for student attendance.


            d. a combination of these options


 


16. If I did not return on September 21 or October 3, what happened with my benefits?


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