Letter to Support Personnel
April 2, 2020
Muskogee Public Schools Support Employees,
I am writing today to update you on a couple of questions that I know are weighing heavily on all of your minds: First, will support staff be paid for the remainder of the year? and second, If I have not yet, when will I be able to come back into work?
Yesterday, Mr. John Little, Mr. Eric Wells, and I met with MESPA leadership to discuss these issues, get their input, and make them aware of the processes required to make all support salaries whole according to 2019-2020 contracts.
Hopefully, you are all aware that all support staff will receive their full April checks. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began it would have been illegal in Oklahoma to pay hourly employees during an event like this for work not performed. However, our State Department of Education and our school attorneys are working with us to help provide a legal way to get support staff all of their additional monthly checks.
This afternoon the MPS School Board held a Special Meeting. Dr. Mendenhall and Mr. Little both addressed the district’s desire to provide the additional checks by adding new policy in the case of an event like the Coronavirus.
Our attorneys are drafting a policy that we will be able to present to the Board during our regular meeting on Tuesday, April 21st. Language for the proposed new policy should be available by the evening of Friday, April 17th when the agenda is posted. That Regular Board Meeting, like today’s, will be shown live on Channel 15 and our YouTube Channel, RougherTV.
I absolutely cannot speak for our Board, but I know they want to do what is right for our employees and protect our district by operating under Oklahoma Law. This new policy should allow us to do that.
Oklahoma already had laws in place to pay certified school employees in an event like this, so new policy is not required for those staff members to be paid. I would encourage you to contact our local legislators in a positive way and encourage them to add support staff members to the existing law. Doing so would remove that burden from local school boards and provide even more protection for support employees.
The second question, for those of you who have not been asked to return to your regular, hourly assignments, is a much tougher one to answer. Simply, at this point, we do not know. We are trying to bring on-site as few employees as we can and still provide essential services. We ABSOLUTELY KNOW that you would come in at the moment you get a call. We appreciate how much you care about our students, staff, and district very much. Thank you!
However, the fewer people that we can have onsite and working is the safest practice for everyone. There may be times over the next few weeks when certain groups of support staff are asked to come in and work. When we do that, we will follow CDC and Oklahoma guidelines for numbers in buildings and we will provide gloves and masks for those working.
As Dr. Mendenhall asked in his live broadcast on Tuesday, please have grace for all of us as we work through these unchartered waters. As a district, administrators, employees, parents, friends, and co-workers, we are all going through this very difficult time together, and it is everyone’s first experience with an event of this scope and seriousness.
Mistakes will be made. Please try to have a spirit of forgiveness when mistakes are made, and truly believe that we are all working to what is best and safest for students, staff, families, and community.
Chief Administrative Officer
Muskogee Public Schools