Adult school job program remains in distress
COMPTON—The Compton Unified School District Personnel Commission heard complaints about the working conditions for one employee during its Thursday, July 24, meeting.
Office Specialist Ebony Hamilton said she performs two jobs at the
Chester Adult Center, 1104 E. 148th St.
“Hamilton was classified as an instructional assistant and paired with
Lauren Corralez, a teacher on special assignment in the program,” interim Personnel Director Dr.
Matthew Spencer said. “The two worked in an administrator and administrative system.”
Corralez retired in August 2011, and the district planned on shutting down the adult school program.
“There was a change of heart, and the district brought the program and
Hamilton back,” Spencer said. “She received additional responsibilities when she returned.”
The adult school is an extremely vital program, he said, and Hamilton ended up doing the administrator and support positions.
“I began a lot of discussion about what her job is and should be,” Spencer said. “The commission reclassified her as an office specialist in January 2012.”
A line exists between the administrator and administrative job functions, he said, and she should not cross the line.
“Chester Adult Center Principal Melanie Prince is the supervisor of the program and does not know about the adult school,” Spencer said. “They relied upon Hamilton because she understands the program.”
Someone else must fill the administrator position.
“Hamilton did the work because the adult school would be placed in danger if she did not respond,” Spencer said.
The union feels Hamilton deserves extra money for her efforts.
“The district did not assign the administrative functions to someone else,” Spencer said. “They failed.”
The program’s future is muddled, he said, but it can move forward in two directions.
“The Workforce Investment Act funds this adult school,” he said. “The only way the grant continues next year is by assigning someone to the administrative position and keeping Hamilton, or by creating a new position that does both jobs.”
Promoting Hamilton without competition would be a merit system violation, and she can only move up through a gradual accretion of job responsibilities over two years.
“She became an office specialist by growing into the position,” he said. “This is a reorganization which eliminates a promotion possibility.”
A new position, under merit law, requires open and fair competition for the job.
“Hamilton can apply for a newly created position,” Spencer said. “They can also transfer her out, but she still remains an office specialist.”
The commission cannot approve a raise, but can make a suggestion to the district.
“The district must recognize that Hamilton does a yeoman’s job and deserves more money,” Spencer said. “Ms. Prince must make the request to human resources.”
CUSD employee Derek Heflin spoke on behalf of Hamilton, and said Prince must act on the issue.
“She has to send her data to the Personnel Commission,” he said. “Prince became the program manager and gets paid even though she does not know the job.”
Hamilton filed a level three grievance with Assistant Superintendent Alex Flores, Heflin said, and he remains in the dark about any possible solutions.
“I never discussed the issue with Flores,” Spencer said.
Hamilton said the program in its current form is an elaborate show that deceives the district.
“Three teachers get two hours of extra duty each day as my supervisor, and they never come in,” she said. “None of them knows the program.”
The commission should protect Hamilton, Spencer said, and tell the district that she must work within her classification.
“Working out of class is wrong, and the union and commissioners must issue a cease-and-desist order in this matter,” Spencer said.
Commissioner Tara Bonner said Prince should speak with the commissioners.
“She cancelled,” Heflin said. “Look at the emails.”
Interim Superintendent Carmella Franco said Prince adheres to the Workforce Invest Act requirements for the grant.
“The job responsibilities for Hamilton are mostly clerical in nature,” she said. “Information about the El Civics objectives is being done by another teacher.”
Franco said Hamilton is responsible for pre- and post-testing for adult students, scanning and scoring student achievement tests, completing entry and update records for each student in every class, determining the proper placement based on assessment test scores, and disseminating the core performance follow-up survey each quarter to students who exit the program.
Spencer said he would turn the discussion into a report, and send it to Prince and the appropriate district officials.
The next Personnel Commission meeting is on Thursday, Aug. 16.