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AEA attorney representing local employee in grievance

By By Lori Dann and John Wallace
Staff Writers
An Alabama Education Association attorney was brought in last week to represent an Escambia County School System employee in a grievance hearing.
However, after nine hours of testimony Wednesday and Thursday, school board members were unable to reach a decision concerning the 11 grievances filed by Debbie White, a central office employee.
At the conclusion of a five-hour meeting Thursday, board member Jimmy Dukes, who chaired the hearing, asked that it again be continued. He suggested that school board attorney Susan Reaves and AEA attorney Charles Norton set a date for the hearing to resume and then get back to the board.
The grievance hearing began Wednesday at 4 p.m., with the closed session starting at 4:30 and lasting until after 10 p.m. The board then held its regular meeting Thursday, which lasted from 4:30 until 6:47 p.m. The hearing resumed at 7 p.m. and lasted until 9:45.
A meeting is not expected to be called this week due to the spring break holiday.
Details of the grievances have not been disclosed, but they are related to the general working environment.
Though such matters are usually decided at the local level, without the intervention of attorneys, local UniServe representative Vivian Jones said this case was an exception.
Norton attended both meetings last week.
During the 30-minute open session Wednesday, board member Danny Benja-min announced that he would be leaving at 6 p.m. to attend church but asked that he still be allowed to vote on the grievance. He said he would read the transcripts of the proceedings he missed.
No decision was made at the table as to whether Benjamin would be allowed to vote. During the last grievance hearing, board members who missed any portion of the hearing were not able to vote.