School District Employee May File Lawsuit if Dismissed

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The Berkeley Unified School District may be sued if officials vote tomorrow to terminate the position of a National Guard officer who is away on duty.

Paul Monroe took leave from his job as the district's Instructional Technology Supervisor to serve as police captain in the National Guard and has been stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash. for the past four months.

His position is one of about 200 Berkeley school jobs the Board of Education may cut because of a projected $6 million shortfall for next year's budget, said spokesperson Marian Magid.

When his duty is over, Monroe will return to his job for a six-month transition period, after which he will be released. He will, however, be allowed to apply for other jobs within the district during that period.

His father, Major General Paul Monroe, the top guardsman in the California National Guard, said he may sue the district if his son does not get a similar position to the one he currently holds.

Monroe has served as a Berkeley school administrator since 1992. His middle-management position will be eliminated to "streamline the administration," Magid said.

"Other solutions to the budget deficit included closing schools, layoff situations and notices of possible layoffs," she said. "The bottom line is that (Monroe's) position (will) no longer exist."

Gen. Monroe said the school

district's layoff of his son violates the federal law of the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act of 1942, as well as part of the California Military Code.

The laws ensure protection of an active-duty serviceman's job, and the district may be compelled to offer Monroe a similar job, Gen. Monroe said.

School boardmember John Selawsky said he does not agree that Monroe is being singled out because of his leave of absence to serve in the National Guard.

"There are other people in the same position and I don't think that we are treating Paul Monroe any differently."

Gen. Monroe addressed his concerns at the school board meeting last Wednesday and referred his son's case to National Guard officials.

"(As a father) I don't feel good about it at all," he said. "Not only as a father but as a leader of the National Guard. If they can fire my son, then it compromises my credibility with the rest of the soldiers as general of the National Guard."

Selawsky denies Monroe is being dismissed and said the school district will undergo major reorganization to accommodate the budget cuts, which includes many job layoffs.

Prior to his leave, Monroe applied for a new position, director of information services, created as part of the district reorganization. The director would be responsible for instructional and network systems, as well as administration, business and attendance systems.

According to Gen. Monroe, his son was twice deemed qualified for the position and was recommended to the superintendent but was declined interviews both times.

"He would basically supervise the same employees if they gave him that new job," Gen. Monroe said.

Magid confirmed that Monroe was a first-round finalist for the new position but said it was common to re-list jobs and widen the pool of applicants.

She declined to comment on whether or not the position will be filled before Monroe returns from duty, but said he would be a candidate for an interview when he returns.

Even if all 200 layoffs are approved at the school board meeting Wednesday, the layoffs will only alleviate $3 million of the district's budget deficit. Further layoffs and budget cuts will be discussed in upcoming meetings.


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