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E-mail use in MDCPS: Why the double standards?

I just sent this e-mail to Ms. Dawn Baglos. She is the M-DCPS official of the Labor Relations Department who signed off on the 2016 - 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement, as well as one of the officials who refuses to allow me to use school wide e-mail, thus giving rise to double standards.

Ms. Baglos,

I hope this email finds you well. It was a pleasure meeting you at Dr. Weissman's retirement party.

I am copying Mr. Karp because he told me at the last school board meeting that he would look into this matter. He also happens to be the school board member who represents the district where my school is located.

As you know, Dr. Weissman, who is now retired, referred my question to your office in the fall 2015. And, although you and I spoke about the issue over the phone back in November, it was James Haj who replied. Mr. Haj is no longer employed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and therefore, I cannot address myself to him. But, his response to my query is lacking in substance, and I am not satisfied with his blanket denial of my request. I see a more specific justification for the bar that your office, through Mr. Haj, places on my anticipated actions. I turn to you. If you are not the proper contact, then kindly forward my email to the correct official, as well as carbon copy me.

To no avail, I have addressed myself to you, as well as to the superintendent, the school board, and the school board attorney on several occasions the last which was this past spring. I have stated that there is a double standard in that employees, including entities not employees with the school system, send e-mails not related to school business. Yet, I am being told that I cannot use the school email to send emails to staff asking them to join me in attending school board meetings to address educationally related issues, including issues related to collective barraging such as wages and retirement benefits.

I have also attempted addressing these issues by way of a letter dated October 12, 2015, at various school board meetings, and of course, directly by way of email. I am ignored, ignored and ignored again. No one appreciates being ignored.

This will be my last effort attempt to address this issue through a Miami-Dade County Official. If I do not receive a cordial acknowledgement from you that you will re-evaluate Mr. Haj's refusal to allow me to use school email during non-working hours to contact colleagues to address professional issues as they relate to educational policies and/or collective bargaining issues, I will have to seek redress in another forum whereby they may be able to get a representative from Miami-Dade County Public Schools to answer my queries. By the way, I know I am not alone in that many others complain that they, too, are ignored when they address officials of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. It is really a very disturbing situation and the problem is systemic.

In any event, I would much prefer avoiding having to, say file a complaint with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC), as it would take much of my free time away. PERC, after seeing all of my sincere attempts to address this in a reasonable fashion, since the fall 2015, will surely take notice of how I was left no choice but to resort to seeking recourse through them; they may just deem that MDCPS's avoidance has led me to cause them to employ valuable taxpayer resources on a matter that did not have to even be placed before them - in the first place.

As I have in the past, I direct you and your attorneys to review the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case, Purple Communications, in light of my request. I understand what your office pointed out when Mr. Haj indicated that the NLRB does not control state or local government employees, but nonetheless, case law also clearly provides that because Chapter 447 is modeled after the National Labor Relations Act, legal arguments on analogy are accepted by PERC. That is PERC follows the NLRB for guidance. Based on my legal research, it is my strong opinion that I should be allowed to do what I am simply seeking written permission to do. The reason why I seek written permission from Miami-Dade County Public Schools is because it is my understanding that, in the past, teachers have been reprimanded for doing that which, I believe, they have a legal right to do - what I now want to do. As an attorney, I am trained to pre-empt potential problems, for it is better to be on the offensive than the defensive. Rather than have my employer reprimand me, I prefer to secure clearance first. The fact that you are ignoring me tells me that my legal assessment may be correct, and that you are hoping I will just go away and give up. I am not.

Either way, please answer me one more and last time with what the Labor Relations Department of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools opines to be the proper answer to my query. And, please do not insult me by telling me I am seeking legal advice and that your office does not provide such. I am an employee seeking an answer to the question as to whether I will be reprimanded if I email my colleagues for the above-stated purpose. If that requires MDCPS to look to the law, then that is a secondary issue which should not preclude the Office of Labor (legal matters) Relations from addressing employee concerns. That is simply called evading the issue, and very unbecoming of public officials charged with operating a public school system whose very existence is rooted in law. Also, please make sure to pinpoint to specific school board rules and/or laws to justify your response, if the response precludes me and others from sending said e-mails.

Today is Tuesday, June 28, 2016. I feel that a week to respond to this email is reasonable. If I have not heard back from you by next Tuesday, July 5, 2016, I will interpret that as an answer nonetheless; an answer telling me that you will continue to deny me from using the school email for the explicit purpose which I have already explained.

I hope to hear from you within the next week. I thank you in advance for your time and assistance.


Thais Alvarez

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