Filing an Appeal or Grievance

Most, if not all, school districts have an Employee Grievance procedure. This procedure is located in the Personnel section of the school district's Board Policy manual. This is the procedure that your school board put into place for you to use when you believe mistreatment has occurred. 

ADVANTAGES OF FILING A GRIEVANCE: 

The grievance procedure forces the district to respond to the employee's concern, and within a certain number of days. This also ensures that the employee's complaint will not be swept under the rug or ignored by way of built in timelines.
The grievance procedure provides a professional way for the employee to alert the district about what happened. When an employee uses the grievance procedure, he or she is following appropriate protocol.
The procedure promises that there will be no retaliation towards the employee for filing a complaint.
The grievance procedure consists of a series of steps that keeps the grievance moving without unnecessary delays. The final step is before the Board; however, not all districts allow a Board review.  
HOW LONG DOES ALL OF THIS TAKE?
The deadline to file a grievance can vary between 10, 15, 25, or 30 working or calendar days from the incident or from the date the employee became aware of the incident. This varies among districts, so refer to the grievance procedure for this information. If the grievance is not filed before the deadline, you may not be able to file a complaint. Make sure you understand whether the “day” means working day or calendar day.
A common scenario occurs when an employee is recommended for formal evaluation in April but waits until after school is out or the beginning of the next school year to protest. It’s too late.
There are timelines built into the grievance procedure that drives every step in the process such as:
  • number of days the teacher has to file a grievance
  • number of days it takes to schedule a meeting - at each step of the grievance
  • number of days in which the administrator must respond, after hearing the grievance
  • number of days the teacher has to make a decision at each step – to accept or refuse the decision, withdraw the grievance, or move it forward
These deadlines are in place to make sure no one holds up the process and the grievance keeps moving forward.
CAN I HAVE A REPRESENTATIVE IN THE MEETING?
The employee may have a representative and/or witnesses at all of, some of, or NONE of these meetings. This varies among districts. Check the grievance procedure for information about representation. If you are NOT allowed to have a representative OR the representative can only be a colleague who works you, The SCEA will help prepare you and them for the meeting.
THE ROLE OF THE SCEA IN GRIEVANCES:
The SCEA is not an employee of the district. We are an outside third party; therefore, the grievance must be filed by the employee. What we can do for you:
  • The SCEA will help you identify what Board policies are applicable and help you prepare the grievance form. You will write a brief statement of your complaint and we will re-write it to present it in the best possible way. We will help you sort through your documents and evidence and organize your grievance.
  • We'll coach you on what to say and do in the meeting.
  • Some districts do not let the teacher have a Rep, friend, family member and so forth in the meeting. Many times, we are allowed in the meeting but are not allowed to participate. However, in those instances, we can communicate with you and give you guidance.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GO THROUGH ALL STEPS AND LOSE?
After the teacher has been through all steps/levels of the grievance procedure, there is usually nothing else the teacher can do. The SCEA can help you decide what to do next to bring closure to your situation. 
This is a very general overview. For more specific information, contact the Member Advocacy Center at help@thescea.org. Your call is confidential.