Arbitrator Found Jeffco Public Schools Violated Contract by Retaliating Against and Terminating a Whistleblower. JESPA Awaits Grievance Decision at School Board Meeting, March 5.
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – Members of the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association (JESPA) will have a close eye on Thursday’s school board meeting to see if the District accepts an arbitration finding that favors a fired school employee who sounded an alarm about stolen equipment.
Nearly a year after a “department reorganization” led to the termination of Casey Robinson, Lead Parts and Warranty Tech in Jeffco Transportation, an independent arbitrator released her findings and recommendations, Jan. 23, that Jeffco Public Schools had violated the terms of the contract agreement with JESPA when it retaliated against and terminated Robinson.
JESPA filed a grievance over the termination, charging the termination was retaliatory and discriminatory, and issued without due process and just cause. JESPA argued the department was not restructured and that Robinson’s position was not eliminated, evidenced by the fact that a new position was created that was nearly identical to Robinson’s former position.
The arbitrator stated, “The District went through an unnecessary and elaborate scheme to cause Robinson to lose his job,” and has recommended the JPS Board of Education grant JESPA’s grievance and reinstate Robinson with all back wages and benefits.
“I am grateful a neutral arbitrator has ordered my reinstatement, but that won’t happen until the Jeffco Board of Education decides to accept the arbitrator’s recommendation. I’m glad to see the complaints I have made about thousands of dollars of missing parts and equipment has come to light,” said Robinson. “Taxpayers and employees of Jefferson County need to demand better of our administrators.”
What happened to Casey, a dedicated employee who stepped forward to expose wrongdoing, shouldn’t be tolerated,” said JESPA President Lara Center. “This is an example of a systemic problem of mistreatment, unfairness, and lack of transparency. Education Support Professionals (ESPs) are an integral part of the education system and when there is a culture that tolerates mistreatment of ESPs, then it hampers the ability to hire and retain good, dedicated employees. There is no question that losing good employees, no matter your job title, is bad for students.”
The arbitrator found the District violated major provisions of the contract, including:
- Demonstrating increased hostility toward Robinson for engaging in protected activities (reporting missing/unauthorized use of District equipment under District Policy DIF, filing complaints of discrimination based on race and harassment by his supervisor and coworkers);
- Using a false pretext for wrongful retaliation against Robinson;
- Retaliating against Robinson in all the ways described in detail in the arbitrator’s report to remove him from the workplace;
- Failing to articulate a legitimate basis for its decision to terminate Robinson’s position.
“The JESPA contract ensures that district employees have rights,” said Center. “By picking and choosing which provisions to implement, and by hiring consultants to find creative ways to get rid of employees, it became obvious the District wasn’t working to save money or to follow the agreement. We look forward to hearing the Board’s decision and getting Casey back to work.”
# # #
JESPA represents nearly 4,000 Jeffco Public Schools Education Support Professionals including paraprofessionals and para educators, secretaries, food service, transportation, maintenance and trades workers, custodians, and other school-related personnel.