It is the policy of the Wilkes County Board of Education, in keeping with the ultimate goal of serving the educational welfare of children, to develop and practice reasonable and effective methods of resolving difficulties that may arise among employees. The intent is to reduce potential areas of grievances and to establish and maintain recognized channels of communications between staff and administration. The purpose of this procedure is to secure, at the lowest possible level, equitable solutions to the problems that arise from time to time that affect employees.
It is desirable for an employee and his or her immediate supervisor to resolve problems through free and informal communication. Before any formal steps are taken, the employee must tell the immediate supervisor that he wishes to discuss a problem. The supervisor is responsible for arranging a suitable time and place to discuss the problem.
In those circumstances where informal procedures fail or are inappropriate or where the employee requests formal procedures, a grievance will be processed pursuant to the steps set forth below.
Days: the working days, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, vacation days, or holidays, as set forth in the aggrieved employee's employment calendar. In counting days, the first day will be the first full working day following receipt of the grievance. When a grievance is submitted on or after May 1, time limits will consist of all weekdays (Monday-Friday) so that the matter may be resolved before the close of the school term or as soon thereafter as possible.
Grievance: a formal written claim by an employee against another employee or the school district that:
- there has been a violation, misapplication, or misinterpretation of state or federal law or regulation, school Board of Education policy, or administrative procedure;
- an employee has been subject to discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability; or
- there exists a physical condition that jeopardizes an employee's health or safety or which interferes with an employee's ability to discharge his or her responsibilities properly and effectively.
The term "grievance" will not apply to any matter for which the method of review is prescribed by law, for which there is a more specific Board of Education policy providing a process for addressing the concern, or the Board of Education is without authority to act.
Grievant: the employee(s) making the claim.
Official: the person hearing and responding to the grievant.
Parties in Interest: the grievant and the person against whom the grievance is filed.
Failure by the official at any step to communicate a decision within the specified time limit will permit the grievant to appeal the grievance to the next step unless the official has notified the grievant of the delay and the reason for the delay, such as the complexity of the investigation or report. The official will make reasonable efforts to keep the grievant apprised of progress being made during any period of delay. Delays may not impermissibly interfere with the exercise of any legal rights.
Failure by the grievant at any step to appeal a grievance to the next step within the specified time limit will be considered acceptance of the decision at that step unless the grievant has notified the official of a delay and the reason for the delay, and the official has consented in writing to the delay.
Reporting a Grievance
- A grievance must be filed as soon as possible but no longer than 30 days after disclosure or discovery of the facts giving rise to the grievance. For a grievance submitted after 30 days which claims a violation, misapplication, or misinterpretation of state or federal law, including discrimination, the superintendent or designee will determine whether the grievance will be investigated after considering factors such as the reason for the delay, the extent of the delay, the effect of the delay on the ability of the school district to investigate and respond to the complaint, and whether the investigation of the complaint is necessary to meet any legal obligations.
- All grievances will be made in writing and the written statement of grievance will remain the same throughout all steps of the grievance procedure. The written grievance will name the employee(s) against whom the grievance is filed and will set forth the facts constituting the grievance and the specific laws, regulations, policies, procedures, or physical conditions involved.
- The employee(s) will present the grievance in writing to his or her immediate supervisor or the supervisor's designee (hereinafter "official"), unless the grievance alleges unlawful discrimination in which case the grievance may be presented instead to the superintendent.
Response by Official
- The official will arrange for a grievance file number to be assigned by the personnel office.
- In the event the official determines at the outset that review by the official is inappropriate, the formal grievance will be investigated and a response given at the first stage of appeal provided below.
- A meeting will take place at a mutually agreed-upon time within five days after receipt of the grievance.
- The official will conduct any investigation of the facts necessary before rendering a decision.
- The immediate supervisor or his or her designee will arrange for a formal discussion of the allegation and will provide the aggrieved employee(s) with a written response to the grievance within ten days after the meeting.
Response by Superintendent
- If the grievant is dissatisfied with the official’s response, the grievant may appeal in writing the decision to the superintendent for review by the superintendent or designee within five days of receipt of the official’s response.
- The superintendent or designee will arrange for a meeting with the employee(s) to take place within five days of the receipt of the appeal. Either party may call witnesses to help resolve the matter.
- The superintendent or designee will conduct any investigation necessary before arriving at a decision. The superintendent or designee will provide the aggrieved employee(s) with a written decision within ten days after the meeting.
Response by the Board
- If the grievant is not satisfied with the superintendent’s response, the grievant may appeal in writing the decision to the Board of Education within five days of receiving the superintendent’s response.
- A hearing will be conducted pursuant to Board of Education policy 2500, Hearings before the Board of Education.
- Resolution of the matter will be made in executive session at the regular meeting.
- The Board of Education will provide a final written decision within 30 days of receiving the appeal unless further investigation is necessary or the hearing necessitates that more time be taken to respond.
All records will be maintained in accordance with state and federal law.
Legal Reference: G.S. 115C-45(c); 126-16
Cross Reference: Hearings Before the Board of Education (policy 2500), Responding to Complaints (1742/5060)
Adopted: January 9, 2006
Revised: January 31, 2011; January 10, 2022