Thanks to the work of the Janesville Education Association, the Janesville School Board has voted to include a “just cause” standard in its grievance and termination procedure for employees. The new policy means the district must meet a more stringent “just cause” standard in disciplinary action, rather than the previous “good and sufficient” standard.
Prior to the vote, JEA President Dave Groth told the school board the JEA supports the “just cause” language in the district’s employee handbook and board policy.
“The JEA believes that fairness is a core American value and that ‘just cause’ is a model of fairness and due process that should be afforded all employees. The inclusion of ‘just cause’ language sends a strong message to all teachers, staff and prospective employees that they will be treated fairly in any discipline case in the School District of Janesville,” Groth said.
He said “just cause” language benefits the district by:
- Sending a strong message to all teachers and staff that they will be treated fairly.
- Creating a balance of accountability among teachers, staff and administration.
- Creating a higher standard for discipline of employees, helping to retain and attract the best employees and modeling fairness for other school districts.
- Not tolerating a culture of fear in its schools.
- Encouraging teachers and staff who are fully invested and passionate about their work — not teachers and staff who are unsure about their job security.
- Protecting teachers and staff who advocate for their students.
- Ensuring a fair process is followed in discipline cases to prevent further legal challenges.
“The JEA believes that a ‘just cause’ standard for SDJ employees in many ways is not a significant departure from the district’s practice of employee discipline,” Groth said. “However, ‘just cause’ language raises the bar to a higher standard than the current language. ‘Just cause’ language provides clarity and certainty that all employees will be treated fairly and predictably by the SDJ. Fairness and equitable treatment are core American principles, which we should always champion and model for our community and our students.”
“Just cause” is the standard that was included in contracts between the JEA and district before passage of the Act 10 anti-collective bargaining bill in 2011. After Act 10 was implemented, the district changed the standard to “good and sufficient”. This week’s vote to return to “just cause” was 5 to 3.
The JEA says it was successful with the help of union brothers and sisters from AFSCME and other labor unions.
The Janesville Education Association’s position on ‘just cause’:
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The new policy means the district must meet a more stringent “just cause” standard in disciplinary action, rather than the previous “good and sufficient” standard.