A “public transparency” necessary in the investigation of schools

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MIDDLETOWN – A coalition of school worker unions in Middletown this week reiterated its demands for modify the contract between the Education Council and an independent investigator examining complaints of alleged harassment, in particular to enable him to attend proceedings.

The Middletown Union Coalition is made up of USPEU Local 6457, AFSCME Local 466, Middletown Teachers’ Federation, AFT Local 1381 and AFT Local 3161. the Middletown Para-Educators Federation.

The union is demanding changes to “make sure our members feel comfortable coming forward”, according to a press release by Matt O’Connor, communications director for AFT Connecticut.


Education Council President Deborah Cain signed the contract between her law firm Shipman & Goodwin and Thompson Hine on December 1.

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There have been recent changes in the management of schools.

Superintendent of Schools Michael T. Conner was granted family sick leave on October 18 following a special meeting of the Board of Education held behind closed doors. Academic Director Alberto Vázquez-Matos is now Interim Director.

Cain was recently appointed as the liaison between the BOE and Thompson Hine.

Union leaders said they met with lawyers for Thompson Hine, who is responsible for investigating allegations of workplace harassment, intimidation and intimidation of school staff, on November 18.

Union leaders urge school board to make changes “to allow all stakeholders to review the investigation report; give MPS employees the right to be represented by a union in any investigation for the purposes of public support and transparency ”, among other changes.

The union said in the statement that its members should be made to “feel comfortable coming forward.”

Cain declined to comment for this story, citing personnel issues.

She offered the statement she sent to the coalition.

“We have previously informed you that the plaintiffs and defendants will receive the findings of the investigation into the allegations involving the plaintiff or the individual defendant,” he said. “The Board made no decision regarding sharing the investigation report with others who are not the Complainants or the Respondent.”

Thompson Hine will present his investigation report directly to the board, without providing the report to Shipman & Goodwin in advance, Cain added.

Shipman & Goodwin’s co-managing partner, attorney Leander A. Dolphin, declined to comment for this story.

The coalition also maintains that it would be “unacceptable” not to have union representation at the inquiry meetings. “We must be present to witness the proceedings,” the letter said.

“Thompson Hine informed us that, for various reasons, it is not his practice to allow union representatives to attend witness interviews where employees are asked to share information in connection with a process of investigating allegations about other employees, ”Cain said.

However, in this case, Cain said, attorneys for Thompson Hine are prepared to allow a union representative to accompany a witness to the interview.

The coalition also says it seeks transparency, saying the public, union members, parents and taxpayers in Middletown “have a right to know what the facts have revealed. This investigation relates to a legitimate matter of public interest.

The contract amendment “speaks volumes to the school community, showing that the BoE is committed to providing an independent, fair and impartial process that ensures due process for all parties involved,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, members of the Board of Education have an “unwavering commitment to ensuring a fair, prompt and thorough investigation,” Cain said.


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