WINDSOR NEA Representing Members at Administrative Meetings, Investigative Interviews and/or Disciplinary Proceedings Presentation by: Kari Estes, UniServ Director MNEA
Objectives • Learn a step-by-step approach to member representation, and • What to do when the administration won’t cooperate.
Learn the Nature of the Meeting or Investigation • You have the right to know in advance the general subject and purpose of the meeting or investigatory interview. • Questions for member to ask administrator who is calling the meeting: • What is the purpose of the meeting? • Am I being disciplined?
Try to obtain as much info as possible... But keep in mind that the administrator must reveal only the general subject matter and category of misconduct for which discipline may be imposed. Before the meeting begins, the administrator does not have to reveal his sources nor the specifics of the misconduct to be discussed.
Check your resources • Master Agreement • Employee Handbook • District Policies If an administrator is claiming that policy or procedure has been broken, where is that explicitly stated?
What if the administrator won’t tell the member the purpose? • Politely remind the administrator, that he or she, has the right to know. • Call your Windsor EA UniServ Director.
What if there’s no time? • As soon as the meeting begins, determine the purpose before the member answers any questions. • Request a short break (caucus) to meet with the member in private. If the meeting looks very serious, request more time for the MNEA UniServ Director to get there. • If request is denied, try only to take notes and ask clarifying questions. DO NOT sign anything in the meeting.
The Right to Consult Privately with Member Before the Meeting You are entitled to a reasonable amount of time before the meeting to . . . • learn the facts from the member, • advise him/her, • and prepare a defense.
It’s Your Responsibility to Ask to Consult Privately Before the Meeting • The administration is under no obligation to offer you time to consult with the member before the meeting. • You the Windsor building representative must make the request to meet in private with the member. • The administration should honor this request but does not have to provide time for you to make a full investigation.
Consult Privately with Member Before the Meeting • Ask the member to honestly tell you what he/she knows. Listen carefully not judgmentally. • Remind the member that the information he/she shares with you will be kept confidential. • Give the member a quick briefing on how to best conduct him/herself in the meeting. • If uncomfortable with the situation, call your MNEA UniServ Director.
Guidelines to establish with the member prior to the meeting • Establish non-verbal signals for use to indicate that the member should stop talking or that a caucus is needed. • Advise the member to be honest but to answer only what is asked.
More Guidelines • Caution against providing additional information or explanations. Tell the member to signal for a caucus if he/she wants to provide additional information that may be favorable to his/her case.
More Guidelines • Advise the member not to argue with the administration or you. • Provide the member with pen and paper for taking notes or writing messages to you.
One Last Guideline • Put the member at ease by assuring him/her that as the Windsor building representative, your job is to assist with a fair and transparent meeting. • You will be the scribe and will document all concerns that will be addressed and answered.
Interacting with the administration • Use the style that is comfortable for you and is best for each situation.
Control Your Emotions • Try not to get angry at what you’re being told. • Be careful of your nonverbal signals.
More Rights…. • Advise the member how to answer particular questions, NOTE: You cannot, however, tell a member to refuse to answer a question or give false information. Members can be disciplined for refusing to answer questions and providing false information. If this feels like it is over your head, call the UniServ Director immediately.
Get accurate information and a clear understanding of the problem Be Quiet • You can’t listen closely when you’re talking, interrupting, or thinking about what you’ll say next.
Getting accurate information Check your comprehension • Paraphrase key points. • Ask the speaker if your understanding is correct.
Getting accurate information Listen for main ideas • Don’t get caught up or sidetracked by examples, stories, statistics, etc.
Write It Down! • Take careful and complete notes. • Note taking keeps the meeting on a professional level by demonstrating that you take your responsibilities seriously.
Notes Are Important. . . • Administrators will be more careful about what they say and how. • Notes may be used at a later grievance or board hearing.
More Tips for Note Taking • Avoid talking when taking notes. If you must do some of the talking in the meeting, ask the member to take notes. • Use black pen in case your notes must be copied. Avoid pencil to avoid smudging. • If you are most comfortable typing notes, bring a computer. Some people feel that they can script better if they type.
Tips for Easier and Better Note Taking • Write out key questions before the meeting and leave room to write answers. • Develop your own shorthand.
More Tips for Note Taking • Ask that information/answers be repeated if necessary so it can be recorded accurately. • Get direct quotes whenever possible and indicate by using quotation marks.
More Tips for Note Taking • Review your notes yourself and with the member as soon as possible after the meeting and fill in any gaps. • After the meeting, type up or rewrite your notes so someone else can understand them. Do not throw out your original notes.
Remember: Be Professional • There is nothing wrong with politely expressing disagreement or objections. • Avoid getting angry and arguing.
Don’t turn the Meeting into a Grievance Session • This meeting is not the time nor place to argue over the merits of the administration’s actions. • Any misconduct by the administration should be noted and grieved later. • If disciplinary action is imminent, ask for the action to be delayed until you contact the MNEA office.
The meeting is over, now what? Spend some time with the member debriefing. • Make sure the member is OK. • Caution the member not to share the details of the meeting with others until the matter is resolved. • If necessary conduct investigation for further information. • Involve the UniServ Director in any further investigation.
What else should you do? Call the MNEA office at 636-933-2894 Ext. 101 • Talk to the UniServ Director, Kari Estes and give an overview of the meeting. • Ask what steps, if any, you should follow next.
And Most Important, Remember... • Your main role is to be a WNEA representative. • Maintain member confidentiality. • Obtain member consent. • Your presence benefits both the member and the administration.
Remember. . . • Be professional. • Let any break in good relations come from the administration. • After the meeting, spend time debriefing the member, investigate, and call the MNEA UniServ office. • Be vigilant that a member’s right to representation doesn’t become a hollow shell.