• From: Judy Gafa <gafaj@gpschools.com>
    Date: May 21, 2016 at 1:31:21 PM EDT
    To: School Board <SchoolBoard@gpschools.org>
    Cc: "Fenton, Christian" <Christian.Fenton@gpschools.org>, "Dean, Jon" <Michael.Dean@gpschools.org>, "Fannon, Rebecca" <Rebecca.Fannon@gpschools.org>, Lois Valente <valentl@gpschools.com>, "summerb@gpschools.com" <summerb@gpschools.com>, "Niehaus, Gary" <Gary.Niehaus@gpschools.org>, "roesked@gpschools.com" <roesked@gpschools.com>, "weertzm@gpschools.com" <weertzm@gpschools.com>, "pangboc@gpschools.com" <pangboc@gpschools.com>
    Subject: Re: FW: Walsh Email re: School System Not Following Provisions of Staff Contracts

    Ahmed I am answering you.  I spoke with you previously and asked politely that you do notCC the whole board when responding to emails. I encouraged you to answer without creating a quorum of Board members.
    I reached out to Debbie Starr and Kaycee Kefgen at MASB. Both instructed me that board members should not be CCing the entire board when replying to community members.
    I am not sure with all of your MASB training why you persist in doing this. 
    I will also say this o one accused you of not following policy.  I did however suggest you preview your three resolutions to allow the community time for input. This is the norm for action agenda items
    Third   I stand behind  administration and this board on how the budget has been developed, including options after the audit was reviewed with the board.   
    Thank you
    Judy Gafa

    On Saturday, May 21, 2016, School Board <SchoolBoard@gpschools.org> wrote:

    From: Ismail, Ahmed (GPPSS)
    Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2016 10:57:25 AM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
    To: Brendan Walsh
    Cc: School Board
    Subject: Walsh Email re: School System Not Following Provisions of Staff Contracts


    This email is in personal response to your email below regarding your analysis of the school system's 2014-15 audit and your feelings that the school system is not following certain provisions of the contract to the detriment of the community.

    As you well know, I cannot comment on this issue on behalf of the board; that is the role of our Board President, Mrs. Gafa.  I am sure (if you haven't already) you will receive a response from her directly.

    I can tell you that the reason I requested that clarity be brought to the school system's position on fulfilling their responsibility to the community by living by the terms and conditions of the "modified formula" contract was very much a time sensitive one for me.  This time sensitivity is the reason I asked Mrs. Gafa to make this an action agenda item.

    The reason I felt (and feel) it is so time sensitive is that, as you know, we have to vote on a budget on June 30th.  This means that any impact on income or expense has to be projected by Mr. Fenton's office and provided to the board for consideration prior to that date.  Since no other budget discussions have been planned as of this date, I felt it only fair to Mr. Fenton and the 389 team that a formal Board decision be rendered on what appears to have been already decided administratively.

    As you know, if no decision is made and memorialized in the form of some kind of contract addendum, the issue lingers out there under the terms of the contract.  I don't think this is fair to the community or the staff, which is the reason I requested that my resolution (labeled as Action Agenda Item M--see attached) be included in the action agenda.  Whatever the board decision is on this item, at least a formal and properly documented decision will made in an open meeting and we can move forward without further angst and concern.

    With regards to the references in your letter to my being accused of not being transparent, no one has had the courtesy of presenting this concern to me directly, so I can't comment on it other than to say that after all the years of meetings (and many times battles we have had), the only thing I have even been accused of in that regard is trying to make things overly transparent.

    With regards to your comment that I have been accused of breaking some policy, I am addressing that under separate cover to Policy Committee Chair Roeske, as I have not been notified of any policy breach.  Had I been advised of a legitimate policy breach, I would have rectified it immediately.

    Thank you for taking the time to write us and for spending the time to do the analysis work you do and share it with us.


    Ahmed Ismail, Trustee
    Grosse Pointe Public School System
    Phone: 313-343-9060 (The Portrait Place - 10am-5pm)
    Email: ismaila@gpschools.com<mailto:ismaila@gpschools.com>

    Notice to Recipient:  The views expressed in this transmittal and its attachments (if any) are those of its author individually and are not necessarily shared by the other members of the Grosse Pointe Public School System's Board of Trustees and/or its administration.  If you would like the official school board position on an issue or would like to communicate to all of the members of the school board at once, please send your email to schoolboard@gpschools.org<mailto:schoolboard@gpschools.org>.  Thank you.

    From: Brendan Walsh
    Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 3:28:35 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
    To: School Board; Niehaus, Gary; Dean, Jon; Fenton, Christian
    Subject: Pots, kettles and transparency

    School Board and Administration,

    I am forwarding a copy of the original e-mail I sent to you over two months ago (on March 12th) that brought to the full Board's attention that the bargaining unit agreements needed analysis relative to the 2014-15 district financial audit that was received in October and approved by the Board on November 23, 2015 - almost exactly six months ago. Message: Lots of time has passed and the Board - in any official way - has done nothing.

    By doing so, you've manufactured another crisis.

    But for the agenda item added yesterday for Monday's meeting, there has not been, nor do we have any reason to believe there would be, a FULL BOARD and LEGAL discussion on the implications of the audit results relative to the district's largest investment - the collective bargaining agreements.

    Even as I write this I am dismayed. Why would the Board need to vote on whether or not the collective bargaining agreements should be followed? When did enforcement of publicly ratified collective bargaining agreements become optional?

    The Board and Administration should have known about this issue at least in November if not sooner. If you didn't know, this in itself is a huge problem falling somewhere between incompetence and neglect.  If you did know and chose to ignore the contract, that's worse than incompetence. It's willful irresponsibility. If a minority of Board members knew and those who did know discussed it with the administration and decided on behalf of the Board (and taxpayers) to disregard the clause, then that is illegal.

    Which one is it?

    My hunch is that it's the last one. If so, there should be repercussions.

    Trustee Ismail (with whom I have a long and very public history of disagreement) is doing the right thing by bringing the issue to the full Board in OPEN SESSION.  Regardless of how anyone may vote, bringing this to full Board discussion is right thing to do particularly if the Board treats transparency as anything more than lip service or has any interest in gaining credibility with the community. All those bond forums will now prove to be a complete waste of time.

    Now Trustee Ismail is being maligned for lack of transparency (for failing to comply with a policy that does not exist) when the odds are very good - and future investigations may very well prove - that some Board members knew what was happening months ago and did nothing. One of those choices is unpopular. The other one is illegal.

    For those on the Board who feel more compelled to serve the needs of the employees than the taxpayers, I say that is totally your decision. You have every right to vote to forego monies that are due taxpayers for their $10 million investment and are equally free to enact revenue generating policies that divide the community. However, you do not have the right to make any decision out of sight of the public. You do not have the right to selectively enforce the collective bargaining agreements made by you on behalf of the taxpaying public. It's incredible this even needs a vote and I suspect the VAST majority of district taxpayers will agree with that.

    For those of you who want to claim that fund equity is on the rise and therefore we should ignore our CBA's, note that on Monday you will revise down AGAIN your fund equity projections in GAA#3.

    Checks and balances have failed miserably here. The Board and Administration owe the institution you serve and the public a full investigation of how this situation got so poorly and perhaps illegally handled and to take measures to correct them from happening again. If you won't, someone else will.

    When you find yourself there on the stage on Monday night before that crowded and angry room of people, before you charge others with lack of transparency, take a good hard look at your selfie camera, smile and say cheese.

    Brendan Walsh