LEVEL TWO GRIEVA}ICE RESPONSE EMPLOYEE: DIAKA

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LEVEL TWO GRIEVA}ICE RESPONSE EMPLOYEE:

DIAKA CARTER

BOARD POLICY: DGBA HUMBLE INDEPEITDENTSCHOOLDISTRICT COMPLAINT # 13O6O3DC LEVEL TWO RESPONSE I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROINID

On October 14,2013, I servedas the Superintendent'sdesigneeto hear the Level Two grievance appeal of Diaka Carter, currently employed as one of two Associate Principals at Summer CreekHigh School. At the time shefrled her Level Onecomplaint,June 3,2013, Ms. Carter was the Associate Principal at Humble Higb School, Record at Tab I- Ms. Carter complains of her reassignmentfrom Humble High School ('HHS') to Summer Creek High School("SCHS')cffcctiveJuly 1,2013.' The Level One conference was conducted by William V. Haefling, District Hearing Officer, on June 13, 2013. On July 10, 2013, Mr, Haefling submittedhis Level One Response that granted Ms. Carter's requestthat he investigate whether retaliation played arry part in her reassignment,but deniedher requestto be retunr.edto the position of AssociatePrincipal at HHS, Record at Tab 3. On July 25, 2013,Ms. CarterappealedMr. Haefling'sdecisionto Level Two, and I was designatedasthe Level Two hearing officer. II.

THE LEYEL TWO CONT'ERENCE

The Level Two conferencewas held on October 14, 2013. Ms. Carter attended representedby her attorney,Michael R. Har':ris,and was allowed onehour for presentation. Leila Feldman, General Counsel for the District, attended the hearing, but in accordancewith Board Policy DGBA did not make a presentationon behalf of the Administration. At the Level Two conference.Ms. Carter included the following documentsin the Level Two Record: 1. A SCHSCampusOrganizationalChart datedJuly 23, 20L3; 2A HumanResources"file snapshot"taken on August 14,2073,listing Ms. Carter as an "AssistantPrincipal"; and 3. A proposed SCHS Campus Argantzational Chart dated September 11, 2013 (which is attachedas Exhibit 1 to this Level Two Response). ' Ms. Carter was initially reassignedas an AssistantPrincipal at SCHS, but aftel meeting with Ms. Carter, Dr. Sconzorestoredher title asan AssociatePrincipal.

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LEVEL TWO GRIEVA}ICE RESPONSE EMPLOYEE:

DIAKA CARTER

BOARD POLICY: DGBA HUMBLE INDEPEITDENTSCHOOLDISTRICT COMPLAINT # 13O6O3DC LEVEL TWO RESPONSE I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROINID

On October 14,2013, I servedas the Superintendent'sdesigneeto hear the Level Two grievance appeal of Diaka Carter, currently employed as one of two Associate Principals at Summer CreekHigh School. At the time shefrled her Level Onecomplaint,June 3,2013, Ms. Carter was the Associate Principal at Humble Higb School, Record at Tab I- Ms. Carter complains of her reassignmentfrom Humble High School ('HHS') to Summer Creek High School("SCHS')cffcctiveJuly 1,2013.' The Level One conference was conducted by William V. Haefling, District Hearing Officer, on June 13, 2013. On July 10, 2013, Mr, Haefling submittedhis Level One Response that granted Ms. Carter's requestthat he investigate whether retaliation played arry part in her reassignment,but deniedher requestto be retunr.edto the position of AssociatePrincipal at HHS, Record at Tab 3. On July 25, 2013,Ms. CarterappealedMr. Haefling'sdecisionto Level Two, and I was designatedasthe Level Two hearing officer. II.

THE LEYEL TWO CONT'ERENCE

The Level Two conferencewas held on October 14, 2013. Ms. Carter attended representedby her attorney,Michael R. Har':ris,and was allowed onehour for presentation. Leila Feldman, General Counsel for the District, attended the hearing, but in accordancewith Board Policy DGBA did not make a presentationon behalf of the Administration. At the Level Two conference.Ms. Carter included the following documentsin the Level Two Record: 1. A SCHSCampusOrganizationalChart datedJuly 23, 20L3; 2A HumanResources"file snapshot"taken on August 14,2073,listing Ms. Carter as an "AssistantPrincipal"; and 3. A proposed SCHS Campus Argantzational Chart dated September 11, 2013 (which is attachedas Exhibit 1 to this Level Two Response). ' Ms. Carter was initially reassignedas an AssistantPrincipal at SCHS, but aftel meeting with Ms. Carter, Dr. Sconzorestoredher title asan AssociatePrincipal.

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Subsequentto the Level Two ConferenceI am including the following documentsin the Level Two Record. 1. 2.

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Ms. Carter'sAppealto Level Two BoardPolicy DGBA (Local) and (Legal)

MS. CARTER'S COMPLAINTS AT LEVEL TWO

On May 10, 2013,Ms. Carter was notified by Trey Kraemer,AssistantSuperintendent for Secondary Schools, that she was being reassignedfrom her position as the Associate Principal at HHS to an AssistantPrincipal position at SCHS. Ms.'Carter contendsthat during this meeting, Mr. Kraemerrepresentedto her that she was being reassignedbecauseof "political reasons,"not performanceconcerns.As referencedin her "Timeline of Events,"Record at Tab 2A, Ms. Carter contendsthat she was reassignedfrom HHS in retaliation for two incidentsthat involve David Sitton, a history teacherat HHS, and the brother of Board Member Robert Sitton (hereinafter referred to as "Board Member Sitton") that occurredin May of 2012. Specifically, Ms. Carter alleges that: (l) In Muy, 2012, she was provided with inforrnation indicating that David Sitton had no studentsassignedto his 5th period baseballclass, and in essencewasbeing afforded an additional off period;' and (2) In Muy, 2012, she approved an administrative recommendationthat David Sitton's teaching assignmentbe changedfrom US History to World History for 2012-2013schoolyear. Ms. Cartercontendsthat Board Member Sittonhasretaliated against her by influencing Mr. Kraemet's recommendationto reassignher from HHS to SCHS and to "demote"her to an AssistantPrincipal. Additionally, becauseof the excellent performanceevaluationsthat shehasreceivedfrom her supervisor,HHS Principal Dr- CharlesNed, Ms- Carter expressesconcernthat her race (African American) or gender (female) may have also played a part in Mr. Kraemer's recommendation. IV.

MS. CARTER'S REQUESTED RE,LIEF AT LEVEL TWO At Level Two, Ms. Cartersubmitsthe following requestsfor relief:

(1) Ms. Cartercomplainsthat Mr. Haefling did not adequatelyinvestigateor respond to her complaints of retaliation and asksthat they be additionally reviewed at Level Two; (2) Currently,Ms. Carteris serving as an AssociatePrincipal at SCHS. At the Level Two hearing, Ms. Carterrequeststo remain in this position, but be assignedjob dutiesthat are traditionally given to an AssociatePrincipal, not an AssistantPrincipal. Specifrcally,Ms. Carter complains that her current job duties include the supervision of a "Flouse of Students,"a responsibility traditionally given to an AssistantPrincipal. Ms. Carter asksthat shebe givenjob duties similar to that of the other SCHS Associate Principal, Paul Edwards, who does not supervisea Houseof Students;and ' Ms. Carterreportedthis informationto Athletic Director Troy Kite. n' L

(3) Ms. Carterrequeststhat she be compensatedfor her attorney'sfees associated with bringing this grievance as well the intangible damagesthat she has incr.uredto include "anguish,pain, suffering,and stress." V.

ADDITIONAL I TVESTIGATION AT LEVEL TWO

Board Policy DGBA providesthat the Level Two hearingofficer may considerthe Level One record, information provided at the Level Two conference, ffid any other relevant documents or inforrration that may help resolve the complaint. After hearing Ms. Carter's specific complaints with the Level One decision, I met with Mr. HaeflinB, Dr. Ned, Mr. Kraemer, Dr- Price, Dr. Sconzo,and Board Member Sitton to discussthern. \rI.

IMARING OFFICER'S FIITDINGS Basedon my review at Level Two, I submit the following findings:

1. Board Member Sitton becamea member of the Humble ISD Board of Trustees ("the Board,") itr May of 2011. He is a previousgraduateof HHS, as his brotherDavid Sitton, who is a current teacher/coachat FIHS. Board Member Sifion acknowledgesthat when he initially came on the Board he was very concemedabout the administrativeleadershipat HHS. He believed that many HHS teacherswere unhappy and were intending to leave.' Dr. Sconzo confirms ttrat Board Member Sitton had discussedthese issueswith him on several.occasions prior to the incidentsthat Ms. Carter complainsof that occurred in May 2012;a 2. At the time that Board Member Sitton came on the Board,Dr. CharlesNed was Principal at HHS and Ms. Carterwas the AssociatePrincipal. As an AssociatePrincipal, Ms. Carter has always receivedexcellentperformanceevaluationsfrom Dr. Ned, Record at Tab 2 T-X, Dr. Ned confirms that he has always been pleasedwith Ms. Carter'sperfiormanceand believesthat sheis an excellentadministrator; 3. In May of 2012, Ms. Carter was provided information indicating that David Sitton, A US History/baseballcoachat HHS, had no studentsassignedto his 5th period baseball class and that he was not in football, baseball,or on campus dwing that period, or at least he could not be located. Ms. Carterreportedthis information to the District'sAthletic Director Troy Kite. My investigationrevealsthat Board Member Sitton did not discussthis incident with Dr. Ned, I\4r. Kraemer, Dr. Price, Dr. Sconzo?or alryone involved in Ms. Carter's reassignment decision;s

' Board Member Sitton representsthat HHS has incurred a 30 percent attrition in teachersfor approximatelythree consecutiveyears. He believedthat teachermoralewas poor at HHS and felt that the HHS administrativeleadership was responsible. 4 In fact, Dr. Sconzo recalls that Board Member Sitton had communicatedhis concernswith the leadershipat HHS evenprior to coming on the Board. ' Board Member Sitton statesthat he was unawareof this incident until after Ms. Cafter filed her Level One Complaint. ?

4. Later in May, 2012, David Sitton, was advised that for the 2012-2013 school year his teaching assignmentwould be changed from US History to World History. David Sitton had taught US History for many years and was upset by the change. At this sametime, severalother HHS teachers were advised that their teaching assignments would be changed. David Sitton spoke with Ms. Carter about the change and Ms. Carter expla"inedthat the teaehing ehangewas initiated by Assistant Principal Monk and the Department Chair, Ms. Kansas;o 5. Board Member Sitton states that he was in California when the teaching assignment changes were announced, and represents that he received telephone calls from approximately seven HHS teachers complaining of their changes. He states that he immediately telephoned Dr. Sconzo to advise him of the teachers' complaints- He states that after he contacted Dr. Sconzo, he received a telephone call from David Sitton advising that his teaching assignment had also been changed. Dr. Sconzo recalls that Board Member Sitton did call him from California about the teaching assignment changes at HHS- He confirms that Board Member Sitton's comments were not directed toward David Sitton, but were made "globally" as to all HHS teachers affected;7 6. Board Member Sitton states that on the Saturday following his receipt of the complaints concerning teacher assignments, he attended the HHS graduation ceremony- The stage was set where all Board Members had a placard designating where they were to sit. Unfortunately, there was no placard for Board Member Sitton. Board Member Sittonunderstood that Ms- Carter and Assistant Principal Monk were in charge of the graduation ceremony, and advised Dr. Sconzo ofthe incident: 7. Board Member Sitton states that with Dr- Sconzo's approval he rnet with Dr- Ned the following week to discuss the reasons for the teaching assignment changes and to determine why he was not designated a place to sit at the HHS graduation ceremony. Additionally, Board Member Sitton informed Dr. Ned that many HHS teachers were complaining of Ms- Carter's strong personalify and felt that she was "pulling all the strings" at HHS, not Dr. Ned.o Dr. Sconzo confirms that he was aware that Board Member Sitton wanted to personaliy rneet with Dr. Ned to discuss his concernsand that had no objection to him doing so; 8. Mr. Kraemer and Dr. Price were placed into their current administrative positions in June 2012- Board Member Sitton states that he met with them soon thereafter and inforrned them of the numerous complaints he received at HHS regarding the teaching assignrnentchanges and informed them of what he believed to be a lack of leadership by the current HHS

o Ms. Carter contendsthat during this meeting,David Sitton brought up the fact that his brotherwas on the Board, Record at Tab 2A, paragraph3. ' Dr. Sconzo statesthat when Board Member Sitton called, he knew nothing about the HHS teachingassignment changes,and he asked his Deputy Superintendent,Ms. Hawkins, to look into them- Dr. Sconzostatesthat Ms. Hawkins discussedthe changeswith Dr. Ned and reportedback to him that the changeswere necessary. 8 Board Mernber Sitton statesthat Dr. Ned respondedthat he was aware of and approvedall of the teaching assignmentchanges. .l

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administrativeteam.eBoard MemberSiuon also mentionedthat therewas a perceptionat HHS that Ms. Carter,not Dr. Ned, wasrunningthe campus; 9. At somepoint during the 2012-2013school year,Mr. Kraemerrnet with Dr. Ned and discussedconcernsthat had beenraised,primmily by HHS teachers,relating to Ms. Carter. Mr. Kraemerspecificallymentionedcomplaintsconcerning(1) theway that she dressed;(2) her tattoo, and (3) her strongpersonality.Mr. Kraemertold Dr. Ned thatit was his own observation, as well as th.e^ perceptionof others,that Ms. Carter appearedto be "runningthe show at HHS,U not Dr. Ned;'u 10. At somepoint during the 2012-2013school year, otherpoard Membersmet with Mr. Kraemer and discussedtheir concerns about the lack of academic progress at HHS, especially concemsrelated to the strength of the IB Program (lnternationalBaccalaureate)and the strength of the campusleadership; 11. At somepoint during the 2012-2013school year, Mr. Kraemertold Dr. Ned that there was a perception in the HHS communlty that he was hiring primarily African American teachers. Dr. Ned respondedthat his teacherhires representedthe demographicsof the campus, and that he hiredthe bestqualified applicantfrom the "pool" of applicantsfor eachposition; 12. At somepoint during the 2012-2013school year, Mr. Kraemerinformed Dr. Ned that there was a nrmor *rat Ms. Carter was having an "affair" with one of the Assistant Principals. VIr. Kraemer was advised of this by Dr. Price who had received this information through a complaint submittedon the District's "anonymous tip line." Mr. Kraemer statesthat he mentioned this to Dr- Ned, only becausehe believes that it is a part of his job to advisethe principals who he supervisesof any information that has the potential to disrupt their campus. Mr. Kraemerdeniesthat he relayedthis information to others;" 13. At somepoint dwing the 2012-2013school year,Mr. Kraemer,Dr. Price, andDr. Sconzo,discussedmaking changesin the administrativeteamsfor the 201,3-2A14school yearat all.school levels. Dr. Price explainsthat the pu{pose of the administrativeteam changeswas to strengthen the administrative teams and to provide administrators an opporfunity to gain experience and leadershipby working on other campusesand with other teams. Dr. Price representsthat noneof the ten high school administratorswho wereultimately reassignedfor the 208-2AM schoolyear were reassignedbecauseof performanceconcerns; 14. Board Member Sitton statesthat in March 2013, he met with Mr. Kraemer and Dr. Price following a breakfast at Kingwood Park and informed them that he was still hearing complaints from HHS teachersabout the leadershipof the HHS administrativeteam. He asked them "what the plan was" for HHS for the next school year. Board Member Sitton did not referenceany particular administrator. Mr. Kraemer informed BoardMember Sitton that he was e Board Member Sitton statesthat his primary concern at I{HS was that the teacherswere unhappy with the leadership and manner of communicationof the administrative team and wererapidly leaving. He believedthat changesin the HHS administrativeteam were necessaryto improve teachermoraleandretention. toMr. Kraemer mentionedthat Ms. Carterdid not interactor communicateweli FIHSteachers. tt Ms. Carter accusesMr. Kraemerof repeatingthe rumorto a former HHS AssistantPrincipalEric Lathan. J

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was not being reassignedfor performancereasonsand that her "skill set" was better suitedfor SCHS; 25. Mr. Kraemer verifies that his recommendationto reassignMs. Carter was not retaliatoryor basedon raceor gender,but insteadwas basedon what he believedto be the best interestof FIHS, SCHS,andthe District; was 26. Dr. Sconzoverifiesthat his authorizationof Mr. Kraemer'srecommendation not retaliatory or basedon race or gender,but instead was basedon what he believed to be the bestinterestof HHS, SCHS,andtheDistrict; 27. Ms. Carter met with Dr. Sconzo on May 17,2013 and complainedthat her reassignmentwas retaliator)r,and that she was unfairly demotedfrom Associate Principal to an AssistantPrincipal position despitereceiving outstandingperformanceevaluationsfrom Dr. Ned. Ms. Carteraskedto be returnedto her position as the AssociatePrincipal at HHS. AlthoughDr. Sconzo did not return Ms. Carterto HHS, he did direct that she uretainher title and associated termsand conditions(includingpay) asa High SchoolAssociatePrincipal," Record at Tab 2J; 28. Ms- Carterreportedto SCHS as an AssociatePrincipal. At this time, therewas alreadyan AssociatePrincipalat SCHS,Paul Edwards. Although Ms. Carterretainedthe title of an Associate Principal, she was assigned_^theresponsibility of a "House of Students," naditionally the role of an AssistantPrincipal.t' Mr. Edwardsdoesnot have the responsibilityof a House of Students:and 29. Subsequently,administrativediscussionshavetakenplaceto removeMs. Carter's to more closely mirror the "House" responsibilitiesat SCHSand to redefine her responsibilitiestraditional assignmentsof an AssociatePrincipal, Record at Tab 2P."" \rIL

LE\rEL TWO DECISION

Based on my review and the findings submitted, it is my decision that Ms. Carter's requestedrelief be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, specifically: (1) Ms. Carter's requestthat there be additional investigation and responseto her claims of retaliation is GRANTED. The additional investigationthat I conductedand the f,rndingsfrom my investigationareprovided in paragraphsV. andVI. above; (2) Ms. Carter's requestto remain as an AssociatePrincipal at SCHS and to be assigneddutiestraditionally assignedto an AssociatePrincipal is GRANTED. Although thereis no direct evidencethat Ms. Carter'sreassignmentwas retaliatory(or the result of raceor gender), I believe that fundamentalfairnessrequiresthat she be allowedto remain, as she has requested, at SCHS as an Associate Principal. Becausethere were no performanceissuesleading to her ln Ms. Carterwas given the "House"responsibilityfor 9th and 10th gradestudents(N-Z)20Attached 11, as Exhibit l, is a revisedorganizational chartproposedby SCtiS Principal,Mr. Hurst,on September 2Al3 e

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reassignment,I find that she should be assignedjob duties that are traditionally assignedto an AssociatePrincipal,and specifically that shenot be assignedthe responsibilityfor a "Houseof Students." The record reflects that Principal Hurst has alreadyprepareda "draft" organizational chart intendedto more equally divide job responsibilitiesbetweenMs. Carterand Mr. Edwards, Exhibit 1. I suggestthat Dr. Sconzoand/orhis designeecontinueto work with Mr. Hurst to finalize it; and (3) for her attorney'sfeesis DEI\[ED. Board Ms. Carter'srequestto be compensated Policy DGBA expresslyprovides that "eachparty shall pay its own costsincurredin the course of the complaint." Additionally, Ms. Carter'srequest for the recovery of intangible damages (anguish, pain, suffering, and stress) is also DEMED, as damagesof this nature are not recoverablein an administrative grievanceproceeding Any otherrelief requestedthat is not specificallygrantedhereinis DENIED. Respectfully Submitted, ,/) //

--PLr)l J./' ovl,ft
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