Burton’s comments to Dean Throop’s
memorandum to the Grievance Committee of Dec 1, 2014
The text of Dean Throop’s memorandum of Dec 1, 2014 is in italics and my Rebuttal: is in standard font with a bold header.
RE: Dr. Sabina Burton’s Grievance
(quote employee handbook or UWS 6.02 saying 20 days)
On Nov 12, 2014 Dr. Burton filed a grievance with Dr. Balachandran, the grievance commission chair. The grievance was against then-dean Throop and addressed her letter of direction, which Throop had issued to Dr. Burton on October 29, 2014. In this communication Dr. Burton wrote “I look forward to a prompt resolution as provided under UWS 6.02.” (exhibit 600)
UWS 6.02 states: “The faculty of each institution shall designate a committee or other appropriate faculty body to hear faculty grievances under rules and procedures established by the faculty of the institution in conjunction with the chancellor. The committee or faculty body shall have the power to conduct hearings and fact-finding related to the grievance and to recommend solutions to the grievance to the chancellor. If the committee or other body makes recommendations to the chancellor, the chancellor shall act on the recommendations within 30 days. The decision by the chancellor on the recommendation of the committee, or on the grievance in the absence of committee recommendation, shall be final except that the board, upon petition of a grievant or the committee or other faculty body, may grant a review on the record.”
On Nov 12, 2014 Article IX of the UW Platteville Employee Handbook stated “Section 2 Grievances: The following procedure shall be followed: A faculty member with a grievance may submit his or her grievance to the Complaints and Grievances Commission. The aggrieved faculty member is entitled to a hearing before the commission within twenty calendar days of the written submission of the grievance to the commission chair.“
University of Wisconsin Platteville Faculty Handbook 220.127.116.11 Grievances has the same wording (Faculty_Handbook_Spring2016-pg115).
The arguments in then-Dean Throop’s memo of Dec 1, 2014, (exhibit 595), were presented the day before the university’s deadline to conduct the grievance hearing.
Timing suggests that the grievance committee’s decision to miss the 20-day deadline for hearing the grievance was based on then-Dean Throop’s memo.
The university is in violation of its own policy on grievance procedures for missing this 20-day deadline.
In Dr. Burton’s grievance she wrote “On October 29, 2014 I received a letter of direction from Dean Throop, which contains untrue, unfair, unwarranted, cruel, vindictive, nonsensical, absurd, exaggerated and inaccurate statements. Her directions are not in keeping with school policy and attempt to suppress my due process rights.” Dr. Burton provided irrefutable evidence and arguments to support her claim.
At issue today is not whether the letter of direction was fair or unfair; reasonable or unreasonable; appropriate or inappropriate, but whether the letter of direction was in force after the passing of the mandatory 20 day deadline for a hearing to address it.
Dean Throop purposely influenced the grievance committee by requesting that they violate university policy. She did this so Dr. Burton would not be afforded a grievance hearing. She did this because she knew that Dr. Burton’s arguments against the letter of direction were irrefutable.
By asking the grievance committee to violate university policy Dean Throop invalidated and voided the letter of direction. Dr. Burton was damaged by the letter of direction and she was damaged again by the university’s violation of policy.
For these reasons the letter of direction must not be considered in the decision whether to dismiss Dr. Burton.
The arguments in then-Dean Throop’s memo of Dec 1, 2014 are invalid, as explained in this rebuttal.
Dr. Sabina Burton, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, has filed a grievance against me. I wish to respond to this in writing, prior to any hearing.
UWP 6.02 defines a grievance as “a personnel problem involving an employee’s expressed feeling of unfair treatment or dissatisfaction with aspects of his/her working conditions within the University which are outside his/her control.” It stands to follow, under this definition, that the subject of the grievance must be a matter that can be meaningfully remedied.
No rational, thinking, educated and fair person could arrive at the conclusion Dean Throop draws from the definition above. Dean Throop’s point is invalid, misleading and unfair. I have expressed, and now reaffirm, my feelings of unfair treatment and dissatisfaction with aspects of my working conditions within the University, which are outside my control.
In this instance, Dr. Burton has filed a grievance over a letter of direction that I gave her (“Issue #1”). A letter of direction is not “a personnel problem,” because, at this point, nothing adverse or unfair has happened to Dr. Burton. A letter of direction is similar to having a code of behavior—it does not create a personnel problem until there is a violation. Were Dr. Burton to violate the letter of direction in such a way that I would be forced to take disciplinary action she would be entitled to the full array of due process prior to any imposition of discipline.
The letter of direction is a very adverse personnel problem that sets me up like the Joker sets up Batman. The Joker ties Batman to a chair, which is connected to a gun that is pointed at Batman’s head. If Batman so much as wiggles in his chair the hairpin trigger will be pulled and Bang! No Batman. The Joker believes it would be Batman’s fault for terminating himself by wiggling in the chair. Similarly, Dean Throop has tied me to unfair directives, which are connected to her authority to fire faculty members for insubordination that is pointed at my career. If I so much as violate the smallest unfair directive Dean Throop will be “forced (as though she is an inanimate object with no freedom of choice, like a trigger) to take disciplinary action” and Bang! No Dr. Burton. Dean Throop wants you to believe that it would be my fault if I “wiggle in the chair.”
Even Judge Peterson listed the letter of direction as an adverse action in his decision to dismiss on summary judgment (Dkt 90 – page 2).
It is not Dean Throop’s place to decide whether I feel unfairly treated or dissatisfied. She is trying to circumvent due process. I perceive a problem therefore, I have a grievance. If there were no problems I would not have filed a grievance. I have been denied due process in the past and Dean Throop is attempting to do it to me again.
At this state, though, there is no remedy available to Dr. Burton so I question whether the letter of direction meets the requirement for a valid grievance.
Dean Throop’s misperception that there is no remedy available to me is not valid reason to deny me due process. Remedy is available as outlined by the requests in my grievance package.
As Dean of the College to which Dr. Burton is assigned, I have both the authority and responsibility to attempt to point out and help to correct employee behaviors that interfere with the normal course of work.
Dean Throop does not have the authority to deny due process! Let her make this point in a grievance hearing.
My letter of direction is aimed at Dr. Burton’s disruptive and erratic patterns of behavior towards colleagues in her department. What I hoped to accomplish with this letter was to change Dr. Burton’s behavior for the better so that the Criminal Justice Department can better function and carry out its mission.
Dean Throop needs to be made aware that she cannot violate law in order to “change a person’s behavior.” Let her defend her letter of direction in a grievance hearing.
Dr. Burton complains as well about the appointment of an outside search committee chair for the permanent department chair (“Issue #2”). She provides no evidence that I am “violating policy in an attempt to ensure that Dr. Dalecki becomes the next permanent chair of the CJ department” and I therefore reject this claim. Nor does this matter constitute a “personnel problem” as Dr. Burton is a member of the search committee and is not being excluded.
Dean Throop selected a personal friend of Dr. Dalecki, not just from outside CJ but from outside LA&E, to chair the search committee. This is a clear conflict of interest. She did not allow the membership of the department to approve her appointment or consider any other search chair candidates. I suggested some good candidates but she did not consider them. Dean Throop’s actions violate the faculty’s right to govern itself.
Dean Throop stifled communication within the CJ department for decisions regarding the search for a new chair. She supports and enforces a “gag-order” on me. She has a personal agenda to get Dr. Dalecki selected as the next permanent chair of the department and is willing to turn a blind eye to violations of policy and law in order to achieve her goal. I have evidence of my claims. Let me present them in a grievance hearing.
This is a “personnel problem.” If hiring decisions are not “personnel issues” I don’t know what is. Legal and policy violations, and administration’s blatant encouragement of those violations, is clearly a “problem.”
My complaint is not that I am excluded from the chair search but that Dean Throop has violated our department’s right to govern ourselves by forcing us to accept an outside chair for the search and by denying us the ability to chose that chair.
Dr. Burton alleges that there are tenured members of the CJ department, including herself, willing and able to fill the search chair position. I disagree with this statement. Dr. Fuller is able but not willing. Dr. Caywood opted to sit on the search committee for three tenure-track faculty members.
There is no legitimate reason why Dr. Caywood could not sit on the faculty search and also chair the CJ search.
I have exercised my authority to bring in an outside chair, applying my judgment that Dr. Burton would not make a reasonable and effective committee chair. In Dr. Burton’s case, the fact that she has engaged in the behaviors towards the acting chair that I described in my letter of direction render her unfit to serve as the search committee chair.
Dean Throop has misapplied her judgment and authority and done me great harm by basing her decisions on lies. The letter of direction is wrong so her reasons to consider me unfit are faulty. Let me demonstrate that in a grievance hearing. She also has denied me the opportunity to run for chair in a fair election within our department. Dean Throop is unfit to be dean.
I believe that the search committee (on which Dr. Burton sits at present) must be able to conduct its business fairly and objectively, and I have asked Dr. Burton to recuse herself from consideration of Dr. Dalecki’s candidacy because it is very apparent that she is unable to do that.
I explained to Dean Throop that I am able and willing to be completely fair and objective in a search for a new chair and she was satisfied by my answer. There is no reason for her now to say that I am unable to be fair and objective. If she felt I was unable to be fair and objective why did she ask me to be on the chair search in the first place? If she feels I am unable to be fair and objective now, why does she not remove me from the search? I believe the reason is that the chair search is just a farce. Dean Throop will do whatever it takes to keep her good friend Dr. Dalecki in the position of chair. Maybe she plans to use me as an excuse to fail the search so Dr. Dalecki will need to stay on as interim chair. Maybe she plans to “discipline” me for it. I will be happy to discuss this matter in a grievance hearing.
I was not involved in “Issue #3” and am perplexed as to why Dr. Burton is including this in a grievance against me. I did not choose the tenure-track search committee. Moreover, offers have been extended to candidates and I will not revoke those offers. There is no remedy available to Dr. Burton as a result.
Dean Throop is involved in this matter. She reprimanded me for complaining of policy violations committed by Dr. Patrick Solar. In her letter of direction Dean Throop wrote “only you believe that he(Dr. Solar) has improperly carried out his duties as committee chair.” I have not been given the opportunity to prove that I am right. Give me that opportunity in a grievance hearing. I wish to demonstrate that I was right to claim that Dr. Solar violated policy.
Dean Throop is pushing forward the hiring of three new faculty members who have been selected primarily for their loyalty to Dr. Dalecki and Dean Throop. She refuses to revoke the offers even though she knows that at least one person is willing to risk her job to prove that policy was violated in hiring them. Denying me due process to prove my claim violates employment law. My due process rights have already been violated by delays and unfair practices. It is time to start affording me fair access to due process. Let me prove my claims against Dr. Solar in a grievance hearing and in so doing prove that Dean Throop unfairly admonished me in her letter of direction.
By refusing to stop the hiring process Dean Throop opens the university to possible litigation by candidates.
I am also troubled by Dr. Burton’s demand that the hearing, if there is one, be conducted in open session. Any substantive discussion of the letter of direction will necessitate discussion of sensitive personnel matters involving other employees and, in particular, my concern with what I perceive as her bullying of junior faculty. The Open Meetings Law provides for closed session to discuss such matters and I believe a closed session would be the best course here.
I am open to discussing the closure of the meeting at the beginning of the meeting as outlined in the open meeting law. I will make my case for keeping the meeting open at that time. I did not demand that the hearing be conducted in open session. I requested that the meeting be conducted in strict adherence to the Open Meeting Law and school policy. It was clearly not a “demand” but a reasonable “request.” This is one of many examples of Dean Throop misinterpreting my words. It is not fair for her to refer to my “request” as a “demand.” She seems to be unable to say the truth.
Finally, Dr. Burton provides a number of emails and other documents as “evidence.” One additional item is purportedly a transcript and a tape of a department meeting. Because the transcript and the recording were created by Dr. Burton, there is no way to determine whether they are accurate depictions of what was said. I ask that the Grievance Commission disregard them.
Of course there are ways to determine whether the recording and transcript are accurate. Ask people who are familiar with the individual’s voices if the speakers are in fact who I claim them to be in the transcript. Verify the transcript by listening to the recording. I do not guarantee that the transcript is completely accurate or complete so you should verify it by listening to the recording. Look at the agenda items provided by Dr. Solar on Oct 16, 2014 (exhibit 562c) and compare them to the discussions on the recording. You will find that they coincide; proving that the meeting was conducted on 8/29/14.
In summary, Dr. Burton “grieves” three issues that do not amount to a personnel problem or unfair treatment. None of these matters created a problem that can be meaningfully remedied in this proceeding. I ask that the committee give consideration to recommending dismissal of the grievance without holding a hearing.
I have been treated unfairly. I request that the grievance be held as I requested and as soon as possible. Nothing that Dean Throop writes in this memorandum should have any bearing on any decision about whether or not to conduct a hearing. It is not up to Throop to decide whether I have a grievance or not. This is North America, not North Korea.