Could Jack get his job back?


New developments in the saga of Jack Daley – Gilroy High School’s former athletic director who was “reassigned” in light of an April 7, 2011 incident when first-year GHS track coach Alvin Harrison was arrested for a DUI on Daley’s watch – have re-opened a can of worms that caused a painful rift between the district, teachers and the public nearly a year ago.

Since last week, the Gilroy Teachers Association is again publicly calling for Daley’s reinstatement. The district staffer of 20 years is currently employed full-time as supervisor of the On Campus Suspension Program at GHS.

“In order to avoid further legal expenses, we ask that the district reconsider its position and reinstate Jack Daley as Athletic Director,” said GTA President Michelle Nelson, who addressed the Board of Education Thursday night. “We realize that you could appeal this decision, but in these difficult budget times, GTA feels that such a course of action would be fiscally irresponsible.”

Nelson’s statement came on the heels of a ruling made Thursday morning in San Jose by California Superior Court Judge Mark Pierce. After GTA sued the district in January 2012 for “refusing” to address the Daley grievance through joint arbitration, the district is now legally compelled to enter into arbitration with the GTA.

This means the district and GTA will pick a neutral arbitrator, who will hear the case and make a binding decision between both parties. The cost of settling the grievance through arbitration comes from the district’s general fund according to Dale Morejon, California Teacher’s Association chapter services consultant.

Coach’s DUI yields consequences for Daley

It all began in April 2011, when GHS track and field Coach Alvin Harrison was driving a rented van on a field trip to a track meet in Southern California. Harrison hit another vehicle from behind on state Highway 73, causing it to overturn and sending two people to the hospital.

No GHS students were in the van during the accident, which occurred at 8:59 p.m. on April 7, 2011.

Harrison – a two-time Olympic gold medalist sprinter whose second medal was stripped after he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs – was terminated immediately and in June 2011 pleaded guilty to felony DUI charges inside the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

After the accident, it was discovered Harrison did not have a valid driver’s license. This set into motion an internal GUSD investigation that ultimately cost Daley – once named the Central Coast Section’s Athletic Director of the Year in 2007 – his position of 11 years. While the district’s investigation revealed Daley rented the vehicle for Harrison to use, Daley reiterated to the Dispatch that he had no knowledge of Harrison’s invalid license. Neither GUSD nor Daley’s attorney would release details of the investigation to the Dispatch at the time.

The Board of Education’s decision to remove Daley on May 11, 2011 from his longtime post hit a major nerve in the community, which packed board meetings, waved signs from street curbs at passing cars, donned “Bring Back Jack T-shirts” and flooded the Dispatch with letters of support for Daley.

The school board speaks up

In response to Nelson’s statement to the board Thursday night, Board President Tom Bundros issued a statement Friday. He requested it be printed with this story in its entirety. As the board does not regularly comment on personnel or pending litigation, this is the only statement from the Board regarding the Daley situation.

“Last Spring, a Gilroy High School Athletic Coach was involved in an automobile accident that injured three adults and resulted in considerable property damage, while driving intoxicated and with a suspended drivers’ license. Even though no one but that coach is to blame for his inexplicably reckless actions, we took the time to engage in self-reflection and a careful examination of the District’s operations relating to student athletic activities, from hiring protocols to transportation procedures. To maximize the District’s ability to move away from old practices and implement new procedures that will enhance safety, we made a staff change in one of the key positions that impact student athletics. Instead of supporting the District’s efforts, GTA filed a grievance, demanded arbitration and initiated litigation. We agree that resources should not have been wasted challenging the District’s efforts to find ways to enhance student safety.”

GUSD vs. GTA: Differing views

The school board’s statement does not sit well with Nelson or GTA Vice President Paul Winslow.

They contend the GTA is rightfully fighting for the “unequivocally violated” contractual rights of Daley, an “employee with countless years of service to Gilroy students and its community at large.”

Interpreting the GTA’s defense of Daley as a challenge to GUSD’s “efforts to find ways to enhance student safety” is not only “absurd, but shameful,” said Winslow.

The GTA’s argument boils down to two elements:

Firstly, the district cannot transfer or reassign an employee as a form of discipline, according to article 17.1 of the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the GTA.

An official GUSD document dated May 11, 2011 notifying Daley that he is relieved of his athletic director duties, however, is titled “Re: Notice of Reassignment.”

This is where the GTA and district are divided.

GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores maintains that “the position of an athletic director is not a regular teaching position.”

Rather, the athletic director is considered an extra duty job which “may be terminated at any time” and is therefore not subject to the rules of reassignment, Flores said.

GTA argues that when Daley was an athletic director, he was being paid as a full-time employee who received an extra duty stipend on top of his regular, annual salary.

“If the stipend were sufficient to perform the duties of the athletic director, then the district would not have a full-time position for it,” Nelson pointed out.

When the GTA requested the district go to arbitration over the grievance, GUSD alleged the collective bargaining agreement in question between the district and GTA had expired June 30, 2010, according to the GTA. This would have erased any grounds for the GTA to go to arbitration on behalf of Daley, Nelson explained.

Judge Pierce’s ruling Thursday, however, validates the GTA’s claim that the bargaining agreement had actually been extended through June 30, 2011, Nelson said. Daley’s “reassignment” occurred when the bargaining agreement was still in effect.

“GTA’s lawsuit against the district… was not against the specific contract violations against Jack,” Winslow explained.

Rather, the GTA challenged the district’s “interpretation that no contract existed at all; therefore, no contractual rights of arbitration were guaranteed to Jack.”

What happens now?

Nelson said the district and GTA will pick up where they left off with the grievance; entering arbitration sometime between May and September.

In June 2011, the district promoted nine-year employee Julie Berggren to Daley’s former athletic director position.

Daley remarked in June that his current full-time position as the On Campus Suspension Program supervisor at GHS was “something that I can live with for a year,” but it’s not what he wants to do for the long haul.

Daley was contacted for comment for this story but did not respond as of press time.

Two other claims have also been filed against GUSD since the April 7, 2011 DUI injury/accident.

One is on behalf of Calvin Harrison, twin brother of Alvin Harrison. The other claim has been filed on behalf of injured driver Eriberto Garcia.

Calls placed to the attorneys of Harrison and Garcia regarding the status of the claims were not returned as of press time.

The GTA is hoping that “the district wastes no more time, energy, and additional thousands of dollars in public funds for private attorneys, and settles the grievance as soon as possible,” according to a district-wide email sent Thursday by Nelson.

“GTA will always defend the contractual rights of its members, and more importantly fight for the safety, well-being and development of the students and families of Gilroy,” said Winslow. “GTA feels that Jack Daley as Athletic Director, without doubt, embodies those objectives.”

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