BETRAYED by Gilbert Education
Association President Diane Drazinski
On October 5 and October
7, 2011, Gilbert Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield "opened his
books" to Sarah, Thomas and Denise, who had
public records request to review the documents from attorney Denise
Until then, Sarah had been
unaware of the collusion between Gilbert Public Schools Associate
Superintendent Nikki Blanchard, Principal of Meridian Elementary
School Vicki Hester,
President of the Gilbert Education Association Diane Drazinski and
attorney Denise Lowell-Britt.
Denise Lowell-Britt of
the law firm
Udall, Shumway & Lyons, had been appointed as an
"independent investigator" by Associate Superintendent Nikki
Blanchard and Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord on March 24,
Lowell-Britt allowed Gilbert Education Association President
Diane Drazinski to review information provided by other witnesses
interviewed as part of the "independent investigation." That would
appear to be a breach
of the integrity of any workplace investigation into wrongdoing.
It gets worse: Notes in the
investigation file showed Gilbert Education Association President Diane Drazinski advocated
for Associate Superintendent Nikki Blanchard to give Sarah a letter of direction
from the very beginning of this saga. Denise Lowell-Britt's notes of
the interview with Diane Drazinski show that the GEA president took
an overwhelmingly personal interest in shifting the response to
Sarah's reports of bullying into a personal attack against Sarah.
Lowell-Britt later used Diane Drazinski as an "expert witness" to
claim that the behavior Sarah reported was not bullying. The only
reason Diane Drazinski was present at the meetings between Sarah and
various Gilbert Public Schools officials was to act an observer to
insure Sarah's due process rights were protected. Instead, Diane
Drazinski acted against Sarah time and again.
Gilbert Public Schools
Associate Superintendent Nikki Blanchard didn't
have to drive a wedge between GEA members and their officers; they
worked hand-in-hand against a GEA member.
comment to Board Member Staci Burk that Sarah is a "great
teacher, just not suitable for the Gilbert environment" should be a
rallying cry for all employees in Gilbert Public Schools.
It gets worse:
Attorney Denise Lowell-Britt
discussed Sarah's employment with Arizona Education Association
attorney Samantha Blevins, even though Sarah told Denise
Lowell-Britt quite clearly that Samantha Blevins did not represent
Attorney Denise Lowell-Britt shared Sarah's email with AEA attorney Samantha Blevins:
...I much prefer
priority be given to giving my students and their parents the
attention and assistance they need to overcome the effects of
bullying in our classroom. Indicators of their distress can be
shown by absences, especially in the third quarter:
Student *** who was not absent at all in the first two quarters
of the year, missed 6 days of school n the third quarter because
of **** bullying. Student *** missed 4 days of school in the
third quarter and 2 days so far in the fourth quarter. *** is
the student whose mother said *** was afraid to come to school
because of ****'s bullying. Student *** missed 4 days in the
third quarter. My students still express fear when they see
***** in the halls, the lunchroom, and on the playground.
We have been waiting
for 75 days and there are only 30 days left in the school year.
My students will return to Meridian next year, whether I do or
not. They deserve more than deliberate indifference to bullying
form the district.
posted on the
Arizona Education Association Facebook page by
Board Member Staci Burk show that the president of the
the collective bargaining organization betrayed member Sarah.
Screenshots provided by attorney
Excerpts appear below [emphasis added]:
Speaking of these
laws to protect teachers, what is a teacher to do if the
Education Association does not only fail to protect and advocate for
the laws being applied as written, but instead directly acts to
oppose the member teacher?
As a GUSD Governing
Board Member I find myself confused and saddened, but mostly
appalled by the actions of the current Gilbert Education Association
President. This week the governing board in a 4-1 vote issued a
statement of charges against a Gilbert teacher. I cast the
dissenting vote, indicating that I did not believe based on the
information presented that there was sufficient grounds for
dismissal of the teacher.
The following night
at a community budget meeting the GEA President pulled me aside to
express her concern about my vote asserting that the administration
was appropriate in suggesting to the board that the teacher be
dismissed from employment. She went on to say that she thought the
teacher was a "great teacher, just not suitable for the Gilbert
environment." She stated, "I know she is one of our members and it
seems strange that I would talk about one of our own this way..." I
cut her off at this point and stated that I should not be discussing
the matter with her because should this teacher appeal the board
decision, I needed to protect the process by not engaging in
I spoke with a teacher
awhile ago that said to me in his district an association president
continually supported the administration and within a couple years
was promoted to an administrative position. I was told it is not
uncommon for association leadership to sell out members this way for
their own career gains. Could this be accurate?
It is very important to
me that teachers are supported and not only have a voice in
education policymaking, but also to have their due process rights
protected when it comes to something as serious as the dismissal of
a certificated teacher. During the board meeting, I vigorously
advocated that the procedure and due process rights of this teacher
be protected. These actions of mine are 'concerning' to this
association president? What is this about? I am confused.
Does the AEA support
this type of behavior from its local leadership? Are the local
leaders using their positions to simply to move up the career ladder
rather than supporting its membership? Is this a culture within the
AEA or an isolated incident?
Does this happen only in
Gilbert Public Schools? Is it standard practice for Arizona Education Association
officials to betray their members in ways large and small, as
they did to Sarah?
This betrayal through
breaches of fiduciary duty to members is heartbreaking. And
expensive for members who have paid membership dues for years,
only to be betrayed.