Monday, February 22, 2010

CTA Honcho Checks in With Maximum Froideur and Condescension

Council of Trent Gathers to Declare Nick, Hillsborough County Executive Director of CTA, a Horse's Patootie in the Diplomacy Department

Let me get this straight, Nick: you maintain that you sit on your CTA executive director perquisites and don't scan ROSSAC's heavens for things extant or looming that affect teachers?

What do you do with your time: lob spitballs into your trash can?

One issue that cries out for union attention is board denial of the 669 bullying law's protection TO teachers.

Attorney Gonzalez HAS INSISTED ON teacher exclusion FROM HB 669'S BULLYING LAW'S PROTECTION. HE SAID SO from the podium. His job is to twist law to coincide with board's and administration's weird ideas of managing the schools.

Your supine Acquiescence bespeaks lamentable absence of CTA director curiosity and vigilance.

I thought Ms. Clements was bad; but you promise to be worse. Not only do you not bestir yourself to anticipate and fend off evils for teachers; you AS WELL wax arrogant and condescending when one brings a problem to you as teacher Bart Birdsall did.

Teachers pay your salary, Nick, FROM THEIR MEAGRE SALARIES. That fact should ensure basic courtesy from your office TO A TEACHER such as Bart Birdsall.

A leader thinks, then acts. He does not lapse into pondering as seems your mode.

Since you tout your academic bona fides, pray allow comment: "Bachelor's Degree" is lower-cased in Standard English. Don't add "from a Bachelor's Degree [sic] program." Teachers and even NASCAR fans know that laudes come in undergraduate degrees only.

What's more, a fellow with a "full and effective" command of the English language" would show punctilio about subjunctive mood in the construction "if there is [sic] information."

As a summa marvel, your EGO VIGILANCE should care about style and clarity as well.

Bad, bloated sentence:

"Since the issue he wanted clarified involved the interpretation of two pieces of information that he claimed to possess, it did not appear that it would be necessary to request information from any source other than

the member."

This 49-word monster is not so much sentence as bolus. Two "it's" make your readers cross their eyes. A savvy writer with or without summa cum laude puffery and with or without an "I Are Smart" designer sweat shirt from Wisconsin or Saskatchewan Agricultural University and Beauty School would write better.

Edit: "The member had the needed information. I inferred he required no more."

See me in my office after class, Nick. Bring your grammar primer.

Pax vobiscum,

lee drury decesare

former CTA president, language maven, and supreme producer of pots and pots chicken and dumplings, reflecting a skill for which all us Southern girls have summa cum laudes

From: William Birdsall []
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 9:22 AM
To: lee de cesare
Subject: Fwd: Bullying Law

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Bart Birdsall" <>

Date: February 22, 2010 9:19:47 AM EST


Subject: Fwd: FW: Bullying Law

W. Bart Birdsall, Media Specialist

Monroe Middle School

4716 W. Montgomery Avenue

Tampa, FL 33616

(813) 272-3020 x243

fax (813) 272-3027

Route 1

----- Original Message -----


A CTA member named Bart Birdsall indicates that he has been discussing Florida’s anti-bullying statute with you. Mr. Birdsall indicates that you and FEA’s legal counsel agree with his interpretation of the law . . . that it applies equally to employees and students.

Attached below is a legal explanation/interpretation from the attorney that represents the Hillsborough School District, Tom Gonzalez. I hope that you will ask FEA legal counsel to review what Mr. Gonzalez has written and to verify that a difference in legal interpretation actually exists. Any assistance you could provide in obtaining the legal review would be greatly appreciated.


Nick Whitman

From: Tom Gonzalez []

Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:24 AM

To: Whitman, Nick

Cc:; Doretha Edgecomb;; Jack Lamb; Candy Olson; Jennifer Faliero; April Griffin

Subject: FW: Bullying Law

Nick, I have been given a copy of Mr. Birdsall’s email to the School Board in which he writes of your desire to “figure out why there is a discrepancy in FEA’s opinion” and mine regarding the Florida bullying law. Here’s my explanation.

As Mr. Birdsall notes, at a School Board meeting a Board member asked me whether the bullying law, Fla. Stat. §1006.147, included employees in the definition of bullying. I replied that it does not. That law is entitled the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act.” It prohibits bullying, which expressly is defined in §1006.147(3)(a) in this way: “Bullying means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students . . . .” The law provides 10 specific examples of behavior which can constitute bullying. Of course, bullying is a concept that is well known and widely used in the context of education and in reference to students. It is a different concept than “harassment,” which also has an established and widely used definition, primarily in the context of employment but also in connection with the protection of civil rights (as in Titles VI and IX). Section 1006.147 treats harassment. It is defined for purposes of the statute, in §1006.147(3)(b), as “threatening, insulting or demeaning, or dehumanizing gestures . . . directed against a student or school employee.” Thus the law does in fact include employees in its protection but uses the term harassment, not bullying. “Bullying” is defined in the law only with reference to students. Section 1006.147(3)(d) includes in the definitions of “‘bullying’ and ‘harassment’” the perpetuation of conduct listed in the cited definitions of bullying and harassment when the conduct is motivated by a certain intent, but that last cited part of the law does not change the definition of bullying as applying to students or the definition of harassment as applying to students and employees. I therefore stand by my legal opinion about the law. That opinion was reflected in my letter written to Ms. DeCesare, to which Mr. Birdsall refers, which responded to an issue she raised with Senator Storms regarding the statute. The law protects students against bullying and harassment. It protects employees against harassment.

The State DOE, pursuant to the statute’s mandate, promulgated a model rule which all school boards were required to adopt. The DOE’s website, in the section produced by the Office of Safe Schools, defines “Bullying/Harassment” as behavior which “causes discomfort or unreasonably [interferes] with the individual’s school performance or participation.” The use of the highlighted words is consistent with a law which focuses on the issue of students. But the DOE’s model policy does not comport with that definition. Instead, it rewrites the definition of bullying by adding the words “or employees” to the statutory definition from which I quote above. And it prohibits that conduct by any “adult or student.” It is my legal opinion that this modification is inconsistent with the law and will cause confusion. But it is also my opinion that the DOE has the legal authority to require the use of that definition. The School Board therefore has adopted the DOE policy and enforces it. The Board policy includes employees within the protection of bullying even though the statute does not. The contention that the Board has excluded employees from protection against bullying is simply wrong. The statute did. And the Board’s policies prohibited harassment of employees long before the law or the DOE required that protection.

I hope this clears up the misunderstanding. If you need additional information, please call me. If the FEA counsel believes the statutory definitions are not written as I have described above please let me know.

In closing let me note that as the DOE/Board policy has been adopted, it applies to conduct committed by members of the public and even by Board employees when speaking or acting in their off-duty capacity. Much of what is contained in certain blogs and directed against School Board employees includes “insults” and “teasing” and in some cases a clear intent to “publicly humiliate.” In fact, the statement to which Mr. Birdsall refers as having been my motivation for not responding to his communications went far beyond calling another person “ugly.” Had it been directed against a Board employee after the effective date of the Board’s policy (as opposed to the statute), it would have constituted bullying, as do any number of references currently made about the Board’s employees in these blogs and other public fora.

From: Jennifer Faliero []

Sent: Saturday, February 20, 2010 12:30 AM

To: Tom Gonzalez

Subject: Fw: Bullying Law

Since this email is about you I thought you might want to read it.

Jennifer Faliero

Hillsborough County Public Schools

School Board Member, District 4

901 E. Kennedy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33602

813-272-4052(district office)

813-571-2705 (office/fax)

From: William Birdsall <>

Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2010 22:17:16 -0500

To: <>; Susan Valdes<>; Doretha Edgecomb<>; Jennifer Faliero<>; April Griffin<>; Carol Kurdell<>; Jack Lamb<>; Candy Olson<>

Cc: lee de cesare<>; Thomas Marshall<>; Nick Whitman<>

Subject: Bullying Law

Dear School Board Members:

Lee has had a back and forth with Tom Gonzalez about the bullying law. She has posted the law to her blog where it includes employees throughout the law. Gonzalez said it does not cover employees at a school board meeting. He has also written a letter to Lee saying it does not cover employees in Hillsborough.

I asked Andy Ford (FEA President) about the bullying law. He spoke with FEA counsel, and FEA counsel told him it does indeed cover employees. He also told me I should talk to HCTA about this. So I contacted Nick Whitman, and he would like to figure out why there is a discrepancy in FEA's opinion and Tom Gonzalez's opinion. He asked me for a copy of the letter Tom Gonzalez wrote to Lee. I have emailed Lee to ask her to fax it to Nick Whitman, and I have also emailed Tom Gonzalez asking him to send the letter to Nick Whitman, but I may be on block sender. Ever since I referred to a friend of his as an ugly person (she slammed the door in my face for having the nerve to run for school board), he had a tantrum and refused to respond to any email after that. That was years ago, and I could care less if he responds, since I have a low opinion of him and his abilities as a lawyer, but he should at least send this letter to Nick Whitman. Will you make sure Tom Gonzalez provides Nick Whitman with a copy of this letter, since Lee's computer gets messed up so often?

It is important to clear up any misunderstandings about this matter. If Lee, FEA, and I are wrong, we need to know. If Tom Gonzalez is wrong, he needs to know. If by some strange hocus pocus both FEA and Tom Gonzalez's differing views on the bullying law fit together, we need to know that also.

Please ask Tom Gonzalez to fax a copy of his letter (that he sent to Lee) to Nick Whitman of HCTA.


Bart Birdsall

-----Original Message-----
From: William Birdsall []
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 9:15 AM
To: Whitman, Nick
Cc: lee de cesare;;;;;;;; Thomas Marshall; Clements, Jean
Subject: Re: Bullying Law

On Feb 22, 2010, at 8:54 AM, Whitman, Nick wrote:

> For the record, to this date, that is the only request for

> information that I have made on behalf of myself or HCTA.

The way I read your email is that you are acting like my desire to get you the information that you requested from me faster (rather than later) is a bad thing. I believe in open government and open everything. Since I have had trouble with Tom Gonzalez giving me things I ask for and waiting for 2 years to get things I ask him for, and since Lee sometimes can not get her computer to work, the one piece of information you asked for might not have gotten to you quickly, so I asked everyone to get Tom Gonzalez to get it to you. What's wrong with that? What is the problem here? I don't understand.



Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice how Tom Gonzales addresses The CTA head as "Nick".

Sounds like they are good friends.

Lee,the sad fact is that Nick and Jean and Mary Ellen and Tom ARE good buds and the poor stupid CTA members are being had.

I am sure you got the not so subtle threat by Mr. Gonzales that certain blogs might be guilty of harassment.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Faliero was trying to get Bart in trouble!