The grievance procedure is designed to be a positive process through which relationships and communications between employees may be improved. The primary purpose of the grievance procedure is to provide a means for orderly and equitable resolution of disputes that arise during employment with GCS. Grievance hearings are intended to open discussion about concerns and to resolve them. They are not intended to punish any employee or to alter employment relationships. During all grievance conferences and communications the focus shall be on finding solutions and resolutions rather than on describing or elaborating on the problem itself. No retaliation, coercion, discrimination or reprisal shall be taken against any employee who makes use of the grievance process. In accordance with North Carolina law, the grievance process may not be used as a means of collective bargaining.
A. Grievance --
- A formal written claim by a current employee of the Guilford County Schools that alleges one of the following: that there has been a violation, misapplication or misinterpretation of State or federal law or regulation, school board policy, or administrative procedure.
- The term grievance does not apply to any matter for which the method of review is prescribed by law, for which there is a more specific remedy in law or board policy, or for which the Board of Education is without authority to act.
- Grievances are not available to address personnel actions, including but not limited to evaluations, personnel file performance documentation, assignment, termination or not being re-employed.
B. Grievant -- The current employee who is filing the grievance.
C. Interested Parties -- The employees involved in the grievance, including the Grievant, the Administrative Supervisor, and the other employees who may be required to take certain actions or refrain from taking action in response to the grievance.
D. Third Party Representative -- Each interested party is entitled to bring to any hearing on the grievance one representative to be present and support the Grievant or any interested party who may be directly affected by the outcome of the grievance.
E. Day -- Calendar day. In computing any period of time by which an act must be done, the last day of the period is to be included unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or school calendar holiday. In that event, the first day following that is not a Saturday, Sunday or school calendar holiday shall be the final day.
F. Administrative Supervisor -- In the event that the Grievant is a teacher, teacher assistant, or other certified personnel at a site, the principal as site administrator is the Administrative Supervisor to whom a grievance should be directed. If the Grievant is a bus driver, the Administrative Supervisor shall be the Zone Transportation Supervisor for the Grievant's zone. If the Grievant is an administrator, the Administrative Supervisor shall be the immediate supervisor of the administrator. If the Grievant is any other classified employee, the Administrative Supervisor is that person's direct report.
G. Mediator -- The Guilford County Schools has designated staff members who have received training in mediating differences. Occasionally, trained Mediators who are not employed by GCS may also be designated to attempt to resolve employee differences. The Chief Human Resources Officer will designate a Mediator for each matter. The Mediator will study the issues and attempt to find common ground upon which the Interested Parties can agree and resolve their differences. The purpose of mediation is not to find fault; the purpose of mediation is to establish a dialog and to assist the Interested Parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. The Mediator is not a judge or arbitrator and has no power to impose a resolution on the Interested Parties, or to recommend a resolution to any person not involved in the mediation process. Communications with the Mediator will be confidential, unless otherwise required by law.
III. Right to Representation
Both the Grievant and the other Interested Parties have a right to representation by a third party whose role and type of participation shall be determined by the parties to the grievance. Third party representatives are expected to follow the rules established for grievances and to act with courtesy and decorum befitting a hearing process. No party shall have more than one representative present at a hearing. Parties intending to bring representation to the hearing shall notify all other Interested Parties at least two days before the hearing of the name and position (attorney, pastor, association representative, etc.) that they are bringing a third party; however, attorneys may not be used until the grievance has progressed to Step 3.
Grievances should be raised and settled in a timely and efficient manner. All Interested Parties are encouraged to make reasonable efforts to resolve grievances informally and at the most immediate administrative level. All hearings and conferences under the grievance procedure will be private and confidential unless otherwise provided by law or unless otherwise mutually agreed to by all Interested Parties. To the extent possible, all hearings and meetings will take place so as not to interrupt the regular duties and responsibilities of the Interested Parties.
Informal Concern: An employee may initially submit any concern which is potentially grievable to his/her Administrative Supervisor within seven days of the event or condition giving rise to the concern. A meeting between the Supervisor and employee shall be held promptly. If the Supervisor is unable to satisfactorily resolve the matter then the employee may chose to formally grieve the matter as follows.
An employee must submit a written grievance using form GAE-P (Parts A & B) Employee Formal Grievance Submission Form, and Employee Formal Grievance Data Form (forms in pdf), together with any supporting documentation, to his/her Administrative Supervisor within 15 days of the event or condition that is the basis for the grievance. The Administrative Supervisor then has up to seven days to set up a meeting with the Grievant; however, if the Grievant has already had a meeting with the Supervisor using the Informal Concern path, the Grievant may waive the formal grievance meeting and await the formal written decision (to be issued within seven days) of the Supervisor using the submitted form, any submitted documentation and the informal meeting. At the formal grievance meeting, if any, the Administrative Supervisor will attempt to resolve the grievance; however, if the parties cannot agree to a resolution, the Administrative Supervisor shall issue a written decision not later than seven days following the meeting with the Grievant unless mutually agreed with the Grievant for an extension of time. In no event shall the written decision be written more than 15 days from the date of the meeting. The Administrative Supervisor's written decision shall be forwarded to the Grievant and to the Superintendent's designee for grievance appeals, the Chief Human Resources Officer.
Not Site Based:
If the employee believes the issue which gave rise to the potential grievance is not based at his/her site, the written grievance should be delivered to the Chief Human Resources Officer who will assign the grievance to an appropriate district administrator. The same timelines as found in the site based process are to be observed.
If the Grievant is dissatisfied with the response at Step One, the Grievant may, within five (5) days of receipt of the Step One decision, submit a Request for Mediation in writing to the Chief Human Resources Officer using form GAE-P (Part A) and a copy of the previously used form GAE-P (Part B). Failure to submit a Request for Mediation within five days of receipt of the decision at Step One constitutes abandonment of the grievance. The Chief Human Resources Officer, upon review of the grievance , may remove it directly to Step Three if it is clear in his judgment that mediation will not assist in the resolution of the concern due to the nature of the grievance. Copies of all written materials submitted by the Grievant at Step One shall be attached to the
Request for Mediation Form in order to provide the Mediator with background information. Additionally, the Mediator may ask the Interested Parties to provide such additional background information as would facilitate the mediation in the judgment of the Mediator. The content of the negotiations and discussion may not be offered at any subsequent level.
If the Mediator declares an impasse at Step Two, the Grievant may, within five (5) days of the conclusion of the mediation at Step Two, submit an appeal in writing using the GCS Grievance Submission Form GAE-P (Part A) along with a copy of GAE-P (Part B) to the Chief Human Resources Officer unless otherwise designated. Failure to submit an appeal within five days of the declaration of an impasse (which is assumed to be the last day of mediation unless the mediator determines otherwise) at Step Two constitutes abandonment of any right to appeal. If mediation has been waived by the Chief Human Resources Officer, the step three grievance must be submitted five (5) days from the official notification that mediation has been waived. Copies of all written materials submitted by the Grievant at Step Two shall be attached to the Grievance Form for consideration by the Chief Human Resources Officer. Interested Parties shall submit to the Chief Human Resources Officer copies of all documents and materials considered at Step Two within three days of receipt of notice that the Grievant has appealed the decision. The Chief Human Resources Officer may consider materials outside the record of Step Two only upon a finding of the discovery of new evidence that could not have been produced at Step Two and only if manifest injustice will result from failure to consider the new material. The Chief Human Resources Officer shall convene the hearing within seven days of receipt of all materials and issue a written decision not later than seven days following the meeting with the Grievant unless mutually agreed with the Grievant for an extension of time. In no event shall the written decision be written more than 15 days from the date of the meeting. The Chief Human Resources Officer's written decision shall be forwarded to the Grievant.
If the Grievant is not satisfied with the written decision of the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Grievant may, within five (5) days of receipt of the written opinion at Step Three, submit an appeal in writing on the GCS Grievance Submission Form (GAE-P (Part A) along with a copy of the GAE-P (Part B) to the Superintendent directed to the Chair of the Guilford County Board of Education (hereinafter "the Board"). Failure to submit an appeal within five days of receipt of the decision at Step Three constitutes abandonment of any right to appeal. Copies of all written materials submitted by the Grievant at Step Three shall be attached to the Grievance Form by the Grievant for consideration by the Board of Education. Interested Parties shall submit to the Board of Education designee, copies of all documents and materials considered at Step Two within three days of receipt of notice that the Grievant has appealed the decision. The Board of Education may consider materials outside the record of Step Three only upon a finding of the discovery of new evidence that could not have been produced at Step Three and only if manifest injustice will result from failure to consider the new material.
Within 30 days of receipt of the Grievance Appeal and the documents of the Interested Parties, a designated panel of the Board of Education consisting of no less than three members (Hereinafter referred to as "the Panel") will review the materials submitted by the parties. The Panel will schedule a hearing and give all Interested Parties at least two days' notice prior to the date of the hearing. The Grievant may be represented by a third party representative; however, no more than one third party representative may attend the hearing for each party with a right or interest that could be affected by the outcome of the hearing. The hearing will be recorded either by tape recording or by written minutes of the hearing. The Grievant and any interested party can make an opening statement of no more than 5 minutes in length. The Grievant, who has the burden of proof, will go first. Each side will then have no more than 15 minutes to state his or her position and to make reference to any of the evidence. No live testimony will be received unless the Panel finds that manifest injustice will result in the omission of live testimony. Following presentation of positions each side will have no more than 5 minutes for a closing statement.
Following the hearing the Panel will deliberate and submit written findings and a decision. The decision will be delivered to all Interested Parties within 7 days of the hearing. The decision of the Panel shall be the final decision of the Board of Education.