Gilbert Public Schools is Holding Employees Hostage

When Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said she was brought into Gilbert Public Schools to stop the exodus of employees, who would have thought she would fix the problem by holding those employees hostage?

That’s exactly what happened when Christina “7-0” Kishimoto recommended the GPS Governing Board adopt new, very one-sided contracts that she dreamed up. Board members Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin refused to go along with these charades, but they were outnumbered.  Sigh.

As Superintendent Kishimoto testified in court: “I was brought in to mitigate the very tense situation that led to the largest exodus of staff members ever … in Gilbert’s history.”  That statement may have been just as truthful as so many of her other prevarications were,  but we’re not going to be deterred from the subject of how Gilbert Public Schools is now holding employees hostage.

Obviously, another mass exodus must be made impossible on Christina Kishimoto’s watch. Can’t let anyone get away until we say so, they think. Christina Kishimoto set up the most incredibly one-sided contracts that you could have imagined, and she had the whole package tied up with a bow when she presented her deal to the Governing Board for their approval. Of course, we all know that’s just window dressing since the bought-and-paid for board members will approve anything this superintendent wants. Their only demand, it seems, is that they get to bask in applause from the very teachers and other employees whose necks will be cut by the contracts the board just approved. <What do you think are the odds of that *spontaneous* applause happening now? Snort.>

The hostage situation is this: any employee who leaves GPS after signing a contract for 2015-2016 will pay $2,500 as liquidated damages…unless they quit before they sign a new contract with minimal time to consider said draconian contract. The other alternative is if the Governing Board waives the liquidated damages.  Don’t hold your breath for that, even though Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz said he wasn’t thrilled with the hostage clause, but he sat down and shut up and voted for it anyway. If you employees don’t pay up, GPS will come after you with their lawyers paid by The Trust to collect fees, attorney fees, court costs or *other reasonable expenses* incurred by the District to collect that $2,500.00. Yep, your agreement to pay *liquidated damages* is in the contract itself. Knowing what we know about those lawyers who are paid by The Trust, those *reasonable expenses* can become astronomical, as if $2,500.00 isn’t already astronomical to the loyal employees whose salaries have been frozen for years and years.

That ransom amount, $2,500.00, is the same for support staff members, teachers, administrators and the top dogs who make six-figure incomes. For Christina Kishimoto’s hand-picked inner circle of educrats marauding as assistant superintendents and executive directors and such, that’s pocket change. Of course, for a support staffer or a young teacher (or the loyal teachers who stayed around waiting for salary equity that will never happen), $2,500.00 can be an impossible burden. That’s the whole point.

If Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had her way, we expect she would bring back debtor prisons. We feel for those of you employees who won’t have $2,500.00 in cash laying around any time in the next twenty years because you’re paid less than the idiots that work for Walmart, according to board member Jill Humpherys. Many support staffers work for wages that are below poverty level, but your superintendent believes you should be punished if you DARE try to leave without her dispensation. Heaven only knows what it would take for Her Newness to agree to let you leave the district. Worse, we all know from experience that this Governing Board will approve whatever this superintendent puts in front of their faces, just like they approved these contracts with the hostage provisions. You have to wonder, who are the real idiots in this situation?

Teachers, your contracts will be issued on April 15, 2015 and you will have 15 business days to decide if you are willing to accept this one-sided contract. Yes, we heard that some principals have been saying that teachers must return contracts in shorter periods. The 15 business days is in the contract itself, but we figure that like most everything else in that one-sided contract, if your principal doesn’t want you to have the contractual amount of time, that’s too bad for you. Of course, the top dogs *contractually* have a whole lot more time to consider their proffered contracts and try to get new jobs in other districts if they can. That’s the way this group rolls. <Disgusting, isn’t it?>

We know that in the past, GPS issued teacher contracts in May;  those signed contracts were due to Human Resources before the last day of the school year. That’s not good enough for Superintendent Christina “7-0” Kishimoto. No sireee, she is bound and determined to force you to choose between a possible teaching job in another district BEFORE those other districts start interviews. It’s also before GPS releases vacancy announcements so you can consider applying for a different position internally (don’t hold your breath for those announcements this year). It’s also before GPS announces news of Reductions in Force, layoffs, pink slips and all that jazz. It’s also before GPS tells individual teachers that they will be placed in a new assignment whether they like it or not. By the time the top dogs share any news, it’s too late for everyone else. You either didn’t sign your contract or you did. Either way, if you weren’t at the table during those budget discussions, you’re on the menu, as board member Daryl Colvin cogently explained to the public.

Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith also voted against across-the-board raises Superintendent Christina Kishimoto proposed that benefit the top dogs disproportionately (but those are not as much as the automatic annual pay hike that she negotiated for herself):

Administrative: $145,362
Certified: $1,779,205
Support: $541,288
Total: $2,465,855

This new group of top dogs has super-secret plans, but you aren’t going to be told what’s in store for you and your career until they get darn well ready to tell you what you are going to do, where you are going to do it and reveal all those other pesky details that might disrupt your life. You don’t get any choices about anything after you sign that contract. Your contracted amount of base pay can be reduced on a whim. Should you have the effrontery to try to resign when you discover that your new working conditions will be intolerable, you’d better be ready to pony up $2,500.00 in cold, hard cash. Immediately. That’s a month’s pay (at least) for most teachers.

Did you notice that GPS reserves the right to furlough all you employees for up to ten days? You won’t be allowed to use your personal time off, vacation days, sick leave or whatever you have on the books. GPS can do this without warning, and with the reputation these top dogs have earned, you know they’ll do it. They can furlough individual employees, classes of employees, or the whole gang … except, we’re sure they’ll NEVER furlough those extremely valuable six-figure income folks for ten days.

Gilbert Education Association obviously thinks this hostage contract is just fine for the chain gang of loyal GPS employees. Lookie here at what GEA helped get approved:

Administrator Contract 2015-2016
Cabinet Level Admin Contract 2015-2016
Support Services Contract 2015-2016

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