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West Sacramento Sun

School District Counters Safety, Pay Accusations

Apr 16, 2024 10:00AM ● By Angela Underwood

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - A Washington Unified School District official countered some serious allegations against the district at the last school board meeting.

A Classified School Employees Association (CSEA) and West Sacramento Teachers Association (WSTA) representative charged on March 28 that the district is slack on communication, specifically regarding security concerns.

"I remember when the association presidents were notified of safety situations by phone or text message, and that isn't happening anymore," Classified School Employees Association President Daniel Gandara said. "I think we need to do better and bring that back."

Gandara also shared how his staff is at risk, due to unruly students, and demanded a district-approved procedure for classified noon duties employees, campus aides and psychological secretaries, who are allegedly being abused by students. 

"They are not trained to break up fights with adults and students; this should be a district standard, not a site standard," Gandara said, adding, "Students with disciplinary problems get sent to the office, so secretaries are not subject to verbal abuse by these students."

West Sacramento Teachers Association President Doug Knepp has the same concerns regarding safety and communication, saying there have been five serious safety issues at five separate sites in the last three weeks.

"In that time, while I know the district has been all hands-on deck, the communication has been minimal," Knepp said. "I know that myself and my CSEA colleagues have not been communicated with when these issues have occurred and that has happened in the past."

Washington Unified School District public information officer Giorgios Kazanis said the safety and well-being of district students, staff, and community are of utmost importance and is "looking into the specific incidents mentioned by the West Sacramento Teachers Association president to identify any gaps in our communication channels and address them directly."

"We take these concerns very seriously and are working to address them with our CSEA and WSTA partners," Kazanis said. "The district has comprehensive school safety plans with established protocols and procedures to ensure a safe working and learning environment, which are regularly reviewed and updated in collaboration with our union partners."

Although Kazanis said Washington Unified School District is committed to an ongoing dialogue with the Classified School Employees Association and the West Sacramento Teachers Association to resolve any issues and ensure that its safety measures continue to meet the highest standards, Gandara wants to know about the financial security his employees lack. Pointing to a group of classified transportation system employees behind him, Gandara said they expect equitable compensation.

"They are the lowest paid in our equity study and we need to fix that sooner rather than later," Gandara said. 

Not only are they the lowest paid, according to the Classified School Employees Association president “but they aren't even getting paid. He said that one employee submitted a January time sheet and is still waiting to get paid.

"This is unacceptable, so I am putting it here on the record," Gandara said. “I will be expecting statutory benefits to be retried to January since it's not my members' fault why this process is taking so long. They are doing the work; they shouldn't have to wait."

Washington Unified School District is also addressing this issue.

"We are aware of the concerns raised regarding the alleged non-payment of time sheets and take such allegations seriously," Kazanis said. "As such, our payroll team is conducting a thorough review of their records. If any discrepancies are found, we will take immediate action to rectify the situation."

Kazanis also encourages any employee concerned about their pay to directly contact the Payroll and Benefits department to confidentially address individual cases.

"WUSD is committed to ensuring that all our employees are compensated fairly and in a timely manner for the valuable work they do," Kazanis said.

While the district addresses the concerns of both the Classified School Employees Association and the West Sacramento Teachers Association officials, Gandara continues to charge lies within the district.  

"The next thing I want to talk about is blatant dishonesty," Gandara said. "I have seen a few of my classified members being released from their positions for not being honest but my question is, shouldn't management be held to such standards if not higher?"

Regarding dishonesty allegations, the West Sacramento News Ledger cannot ask the district to comment since Gandara said he “is keeping it vague" for now.

"But if I bring it up again, it's not going to be vague," Gandara said. “I will attach job titles to it and you guys can figure out who I am talking about."

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