CCSD needs to get HR department up to speed
by Laura Armstrong
MDJ Columnist
October 17, 2011 04:32 PM | 6925 views | 21 21 comments | 109 109 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Safoorah Khan had been a middle school math teacher in suburban Chicago for nine months when she requested time off, three weeks unpaid leave, to take a trip to Saudi Arabia to perform her “hajj” pilgrimage to Mecca.

When she was told no because she was needed in the classroom, the Obama Justice Department got involved, filing a lawsuit on her behalf in December last year claiming the district violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The other day, according to the Chicago Sun Times, they announced they’d settled her “religious discrimination lawsuit” against the school district, forcing it to pay $75,000 in back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees. The Berkeley, Illinois, district must also develop a policy accommodating religions that is consistent with the Civil Rights Act as well as mandatory training on religious accomodations for all school board members and school supervisors.

Will the CCSD and board members note this recent settlement and get its HR department back on track, just in case a disgruntled employee needs a vacation in the Middle East and needs accomodating? One can only hope.

Comments
(21)
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What is your point/
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October 27, 2011
I don't get the point you are trying to convey. It seems as if you are only culture baiting and promoting continued hatred.
lownotz
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October 25, 2011
Laura: Does Rush Limbaugh pick your topics for you?
ToLaura
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October 22, 2011
On one hand you say you are reporting, and on the other hand you call religious duties of others vacationing in the middle east.

Please go research on what Hajj really is before passing such comments.
Just Sayin'
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October 21, 2011
I also wonder if you gave HR the courtesy of an interview to find out if these requests have been made in the past. With as many employees as CCSD has, I would be shocked if similar requests have not been made in the past. They may already be up to speed, don't you think?
Just Sayin'
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October 21, 2011
@Laura Armstrong: I thought the recent turmoil in HR was related to certain people (who are no longer there) not following their own procedures while approving pay raises. How is this related other than the fact this is an HR issue? Sounds like this is an easy way to throw more mud on CCSD while their down. Just sayin'!
Bacon Boy
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October 21, 2011
Allison Khan: How do you get paid for that?

Answer: She can write, wears professional attire and doesn't throw her religion around asking for special favors all the time.
anonymous
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October 21, 2011
Sanity Check--

I know you asked Laura, but nosy old me, I thought I would answer to see if it satisfies you:

"Is there a problem with Civil Rights Act?"

No, she was just explaining the legal instrument used as justification for Khan's complaint.

"Is American Justice Department not 'just'?"

In recent years, that is a valid question. I believe the Justice Department to be controlled by special interests, at times.

"Is there any basis for naming the American Justice Department after the current President or was that just a rhetorical device used to provoke?"

Yes, as versus older administrations, where it did not appear that certain groups were getting preferential treatment.

"Is the Judicial branch an independent institution from the Executive branch? I thought both are supposed to keep the other accountable. Linking the two as one without providing substance undermines our democracy in my humble opinion."

A very naive question:

First Yes indeed, there are three divisions of our government, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. They should keep each other informed. Do you actually believe they do in every case???

"Israel is in the Middle East, how should one react to Christians or Jews wanting to visit Holy sites there? Hint: replace Safoorah with Leah or Matthew."

What in heaven's name has this to do with whether a person, teacher or private employee, is needed on their job? You casually convert the expense and effort of bringing in a temp teacher as a casual thing. In my career, I always had to check with my manager as to whether the time I wanted to go on vacation met the departments manpower requirements or not. I replaced Safoorah with Leah and Matthew and find you guilty of partiality and using the "bigot" tag to prove your point.

"Was there any cause to assume disgruntled nature of Mrs. Khan's vacation request? especially since the request was for unpaid leave..."

Good heavens, she took her issue to the Justice department--that's not displaying a disgruntled attitude????

In case you have not noticed, the Mideast does include Israel..

Philip Brock
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October 20, 2011
Ms. Armstrong - Good work.

I'm tired of Islam, what is no doubt the most violent and hateful religion of our times, constantly being protected from honest criticism and/or inspection. It's fine to prevent Christian children from making a show of praying in school, yet when a Muslim child needs to pray, he/she is permitted to leave the room for a specially provided place to do so. A Muslim in a headscarf and bulky robe is perfectly acceptable most places, but other ethnicities in trench coats or other body-disguising garb would be labelled "suspicious." There are other things to tell but I won't go into detail here. Until the Islamic community takes a stronger public stance against the evil members of that religion who have tried to destroy this nation in the past, I will continue to distrust the religion's true motives.
Laura Armstrong
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October 19, 2011
This is a news story. I highlighted it in my blog space. I asked a question of the CCSD HR department because it has been in recent turmoil. As far as I know, the Marietta schools HR dept. has had no such scandal. You call it Islamophobia, Ms. Knight-khan, make assumptions and characterize this as snide. All but one sentence is taken directly from straight news reports. I did not ask you about the food in your grocery basket, yet you had the same reaction to this as you did to that...sort of paranoid. Chill. It was a wake up call to HR. I could have as easily substituted a Christian, except Holder's Justice Dept. likely wouldn't have stepped in to defend one.
Definition of Islamo
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October 19, 2011
phobia: the term “Islamophobia” was invented and promoted in the early 1990s by the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), a front group of the Muslim Brotherhood. Former IIIT member Abdur-Rahman Muhammad -- who was with that organization when the word was formally created, and who has since rejected IIIT's ideology -- now reveals the original intent behind the concept of Islamophobia: “This loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.” In short, in its very origins, “Islamophobia” was a term designed as a weapon to advance a totalitarian cause by stigmatizing critics and silencing them.

allison knight-khan
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October 19, 2011
Hajj is in November this year. According to you, no Muslim teachers should be allowed to go on Hajj until Hajj falls in the summer holidays or during Christmas?

That won't be for a number of years. It is my understanding from other Muslims who have gone on Hajj that it is best to go while you are young. When you are older, it becomes too rigorous.

Every school board I have ever worked for was able to accomodate teacher requests. In this climate, they probably have many subs available. That income could have helped out another family in need.
allison knight-khan
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October 19, 2011
Laura describes Safoorah Khan as "just in case a disgruntled employee needs a vacation in the Middle East and needs accomodating?"

Definition of Islamophobia: the "dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, to the fear and dislike of all Muslims."

Tone: snide

"Derogatory or mocking in an indirect way: "snide remarks".

How do you get paid for such remarks?

Just Sayin'
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October 19, 2011
Is there a reason why Marietta's HR department is not being given the same 'courtesy' of a head's up? Not to take away from the reality of this type of situation but why would you assume that only CCSD needs your warning and not the other Cobb School District?
Purge
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October 19, 2011
First, HR tried to stealthily take away employees' right to representation in disciplinary conferences, which blew up in their face and thankfully failed. Then, HR quietly but substantially increased employee terminations and discipline. Now, we find that the almost all new HR employee relations staff has received secret, unauthorized pay raises and/or upgrades, while teachers still struggle with pay cuts, furlough days, and dramatically increased health care costs. An outside investigation into the secret raises then resulted in three very sudden high level HR resignations. Clearly, of all the areas in the central office, employees can trust HR the least. And within HR, the employee relations section is apparently the least trustworthy. Dr. H. and the new HR chief still have a lot of HR mess to clean up before employees will ever trust this group again.
Sanity Check
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October 18, 2011
Dear Laura:

I read your article with interest. Perhaps you are on to something. This is a short write up leaving one wanting. To understand your viewpoint a little better, can you please explain:

Is there a problem with Civil Rights Act?

Is American Justice Department not 'just'?

Is there any basis for naming the American Justice Department after the current President or was that just a rhetorical device used to provoke?

Is the Judicial branch an independent institution from the Executive branch? I thought both are supposed to keep the other accountable. Linking the two as one without providing substance undermines our democracy in my humble opinion.

Israel is in the Middle East, how should one react to Christians or Jews wanting to visit Holy sites there? Hint: replace Safoorah with Leah or Matthew.

Was there any cause to assume disgruntled nature of Mrs. Khan's vacation request? especially since the request was for unpaid leave...

I look forward to your response.

May God Bless you!

SC
allison knight-khan
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October 18, 2011
Dear Laura,

FYI, a Muslim is not "taking a holiday" to go on Hajj. It is a requirement of faith: One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime if they are able to do so." (wikipedia)

The kabba is the oldest house of worship in the world. The Qur'an states that Abraham, together with Ishmael, raised the foundations of the holy house.[18] God had shown Abraham the exact site (wikipedia). Anyone who is Jewish or Christian should, therefore, show great respect for this tradition.

God, or Allah, appoints the time for Hajj as 3 months and ten days after Ramadan. It is a rigorous trip. One friend of mine survived after a fire burned many tents and two Muslims I know got sick and died on the way back from Hajj, so it is not at all like a Caribbean cruise.

Are you trying to warn CCSD not to hire Muslims? Why that would be discriminatory. I certainly hope that wasn't your intention.

Good point, Laura
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October 18, 2011
The CCSD does need to strenghten up its department. If we were in a unionized state and school district - the union would be winning like 1,000,000 to ZERO. I'm not saying that I advocate teachers unions - just want the CCSD to clean up its act and start treating their employees right.
@ Grasping
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October 18, 2011
Just because you don't like Laura's views doesn't mean she isn't on to something here.

I believe she's hinting that more needs to be said about the HR department's busy autumn and how all these things suddenly became a priority for them just when the CCSD was in the middle of a major leadership changeover.

As a longtime CCSD employee, I think it's about time someone should look into the crony hiring overseen by the HR department. Is there an audit for HR? I would like to know how many teachers without certificates or with expired certs are being given passes by certain HR people, when other great teachers have been laid off or fired and humiliated by the same crew? MDJ, I believe you are our only hope.
HR-gate
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October 18, 2011
Do you mean the same HR department that recently had its chief, and two others, suddenly resign after an outside investigation into them giving unauthorized pay raises to the entire employee relations staff? It's obviously a very bad sign when the chief gets fired for giving secret pay raises to all the people who are supposed to investigate employee misconduct...
Grasping
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October 17, 2011
Boy, you are really grasping here Laura.
JIm Stoll
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November 10, 2011
I will make no comment on the the comments of all the brilliat people in this article. I would simply like to revisit their opinions of Islam , and Muslimism two years after "Sharia",Islamic Law, becomes the law of the land in America, which is bound to happen if these geniuses get their way. Bad things happen when good men do nothing.
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