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November 23 2010 FEA Pacific Update

Area Director Update
Settlement Agreement 08-08 (Hotel Expenses for Coaches)
FEA Journal
Notice of Election
Europe Schools Closing
DoDDS Nurse Affirmation for Adult Immunizations
Reminders -- FEHB/FSA
Legal Eagle Corner --
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits


Area Director Update: Much of November has been spent catching up with emails, research, immediate needs of our members, working with contacts, FEA HQ, and of course long, long teleconferences with our legal expert and advisor, Michael Bauernfeind. It is possible that some of your emails to Michael Bauernfeind did not reach him around November 4-8. If you had sent an email to Michael or his assistant, Stephanie Trotter during this time and you have not received a response, please resend your email. Thank you for your patience with me as I continue to work on a variety of issues and your inquiries. If you have not heard from me, please send a gentle reminder. The debt notices continue to arrive for our teachers including yours truly. If you receive a debt notice, please be sure to contact us and study your LES carefully.

DoDDS teachers are a busy lot and the winter holidays are quickly arriving. Many of you are probably as surprised as I. This Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving as it gives us a time to reflect on our blessings and spend time with loved ones and friends. I hope you take time to recharge for the three weeks with the students and the upcoming winter celebrations.

Upcoming AD Activities:

December 4 Zama Complex Leadership Training , Zama HS Information Center
December 4 FEA BOD Conference Call 9 PM Pacific Time
December School Visits to be determined
January 6-7 Yokosuka Complex School Visits
January 8 Yokosuka Complex Leadership Training

Settlement Agreement 08-08 (Hotel Expenses for Coaches)- Deadline December 10, 2010:
For any coach who was not reimbursed for hotel expenses since School Year 2006-2007, please read the FEA and management agreement online at http://feaonline.org/passport/legal/updates/coaches_expenses.htm. This site will explain how to submit a claim and respond to other details.
FEA Journal: Have you read your November FEA Journal? As well as informative, the journal highlights some Pacific teachers.
Notice of Election: Please note that the November FEA Journal has announced Spring 201 Election of Officers. You can also find further information at www.feaonline.org. The officers to be elected this spring include, FEA Director DDESS, Pacific Area Director, and the two Europe Area Directors. Please contact your FRS, Country/District President or AD for more information. Nomination forms are due December 17, 2010.
Europe Schools Closing: With the spring transfer season, teachers want to know if there are any schools closing. According to Chuck McCarter, Europe AD, three Europe schools will close. Manheim HS, Manheim MS, and Mark Twain ES will close. Manheim ES will be reconfigured to K-8 and the remaining Manheim MS/HS students in Manheim will be bused to Heidelberg.

DoDDS Nurse Affirmation for Adult Immunization:
Hi Debra,
As a school nurse (and older adult) I want to thank you for including the piece about immunizations for older adults. I received my "shingles" shot (Zostavax) this summer. My insurance covered the injection, designed for those 60 and older. Also, if you need an update for your tetanus protection, adults might consider Adacel -- it is a tetanus shot with a pertussis (whooping cough) booster designed for ages 11 - 64. Whooping cough has been on the rise in adolescents and adults since the 1980's. A stateside friend (also a school nurse) developed pertussis in 2006, so it is still around. Of course, members might want to check with their insurance company re: eligibility. Hopefully, other staff members saw that section in the FEA Pacific Update.
Thanks!

Deborah McCoy RN CSN
MC Perry ES
Iwakuni, Japan

Did you know there are a number of vaccines recommended for adults? Did you know that the viral disease known as shingles is increasing for older adults? Did you know that even though tetanus is rare in the U.S. adults over the age of 50 accounts for 70 percent of tetanus infections? To learn more visit www.neahin.org

Reminders:

Open Season- Then Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Open Season is underway now through December 13. www.opm.gov/insure/health/

Flexible Spending Accounts --

What is FSAFEDS? It is an account in which you contribute money from your salary BEFORE taxes are withheld then get reimbursed for your out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses.

Why Should I Care? If you fork out for co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles or or have other medical expenses that
your regular insurance doesn't pay for, or pay for child care and/or adult day care expenses, or have vision and dental expenses, then you are paying totally for those expenses and NOT saving any money. FSAFEDS - it's like getting an instant pay raise! Unfortunately, over the count meds will not be covered starting in 2011.

How do I Save Money? Let's say you make $1,000 per pay period. That means that you pay taxes on $1,000. If you put $20 per pay period in FSAFEDS you only pay taxes on $980. You save money by paying less tax. You get your money back when you submit timely claims for eligible medical expenses. This is an easy way to SAVE MONEY on the services and products that you are already spending money on.

What's the Catch? Be careful not o put more in your FSAFEDS account than you anticipate spending in a calendar year. What you do not use you will lose! http://shps.http.internapcdn.net/shps/whats_the_catch.html

There are three types of FSAFEDS accounts. Each type has a minimum annual election of $250 and a maximum annual election of $5,000. They are:
The Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) This account reimburses eligible health care expenses NOT covered or reimbursed by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) or any other insurance coverage. This includes expenses for you and/or your tax dependents.

The Limited Expense HCFSA (LEX HCFSA) This account reimburses ONLY eligible dental and vision expenses NOT covered or reimbursed by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) or any other insurance coverage. This includes expenses for you and/or your tax dependents. To be eligible for a LEX HCFSA, you MUST be enrolled in or covered by a High Deductible Health Plan in 2011 AND have a Health Savings Account in 2011.

The Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) This account reimburses eligible day care expenses for your children under age thirteen or any dependents on your Federal tax return who are incapable of self-care. You (and your spouse, if married) must be working, looking for work (with income during the year) or attending school full time.

List of Eligible Services Click here to see a huge list of FSAFEDS eligible services and products.www.FSAFEDS.com. Questions? Call toll-free 1-877-FSAFEDS (372-3337), TTY: 1-800-952-0450. And with FSAFEDS, you have 14 months to incur eligible expenses, when you enroll during Open Season! That's until March 15, 2012 to incur expenses and until April 30, 2012 to file claims. So what are you waiting for? Enroll in the benefit that saves you money -- you have until December 13, 2010 to do so! See videos and enroll at www.FSAFEDS.com. Questions? Call toll-free 1-877-FSAFEDS (372-3337), TTY: 1-800-952-0450. https://www.fsafeds.com/fsafeds/index.asp

Videos explaining FSAFEDS: http://shps.http.internapcdn.net/shps/

Please note: Current participants must re-enroll to participate in the 2011 Benefit Period. Enrollments DO NOT carry forward from year to year. Thanks to FED Week for the valuable insight into this benefit.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner: PROBATIONARY EDUCATORS

In his book Guide to MSPB Law & Practice, labor lawyer Attorney Peter Broida describes the Federal probationary employee in these terms:

It should be understood that during probation an employee may be removed for any reason or no reason. A probationer's lot is not a happy one. The Merit System Protection Board and judicial decisions deny review of probationary appointment terminations, no matter how egregious the circumstances. The Board is dedicated to the preservation of probationary status. It holds that the federal government has never found a more reliable test for predicting employee performance than a two-year on-the-job demonstration of competence.

In simple terms, the probationary or trial employee has no right to continued employment until he has successfully completed two calendar years with the Agency.

Before changes in the law in 1990 DODDS teachers had a one year probationary period, just like most General Schedule federal employees. Thereafter, Title 5 of the United States Code set probation for Excepted Service employees like DODDS educators at two years. 5 USC 7511 defines an employee with appeal rights as:

(a) For the purpose of this subchapter -
(1) "employee" means -
(C) an individual in the excepted service (other than a preference eligible) -
(ii) who has completed 2 years of current continuous service in the same or similar positions in an Executive agency under other than a temporary appointment limited to 2 years or less;

It does not matter whether an educator has been hired in the United States or in the overseas area. Everyone must complete two years of probation. There is only one exception and that is for veterans who have a service connected disability or who have earned a campaign badge because of service during a recognized period of conflict. These select vets only have to serve one calendar year of probation.

The Negotiated Agreement reflects the law. Article 12 concerns the grievance process and it states in part:

C. This procedure shall not apply to any grievance concerning:

(7) termination of trial period employees;

Another Federal agency explains probation as follows:

When you are initially hired for a Federal job, you are expected to have the skills required to do the job successfully. You demonstrate that you have these skills during the probationary (or trial) period. If you do not demonstrate the necessary skills or otherwise show you are not fit for Federal employment, you will be separated.

How can a trial educator survive the two years of probation? The overwhelming majority of new educators pass probation, receiving job security guaranteed by the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Association Negotiated Agreement. It is important for new employees to join the union. Teachers help teachers. A newly hired educator faces the daunting task of adjusting to a new culture overseas, the Department of Defense and an entirely different community of colleagues. Fellow Association members are never hesitant about offering guidance and assistance. The Faculty Representative Spokesperson should be your point of contact for all work related problems. As a member you will have access to a legal team that is experienced and connected world-wide. You need all of the help you can garner.

As Peter Broida states, a trial employee can be discharged during probation for any reason at all. This includes personality, attitude or inadequate skills. However, you cannot be discharged for reasons that are connected with illegal discrimination. If you are removed because of prior political activity or marital status you may request a hearing with the Special Counsel of the Merit Systems Protection Board. If the complaint you file is successful you will be reinstated. You may file an EEO complaint challenging your probationary discharge. EEO recognizes the following protected categories:
Age
Disability
Pregnancy
Race/Color
Religion
National Origin
Gender
Sexual Harassment

If you are able to establish that you were discharged because of illegal discrimination then you will be reinstated.

Federal employment is complicated and as an Association member you will have access to advice from an Association labor lawyer.

There are special circumstances applicable to those DDESS teachers hired by DODDS. Essentially, if the teacher has already completed a trial period within three years of being hired by DODDS, then there will be no need to complete another trial period.

Mark Your Calendars:

FEHB Open Season November 8- December 13
Thanksgiving November 25
Hanukkah December 9
Winter Break December 18 -- January 2

Other Tidbits
National Endowment of the Humanities: http://www.neh.gov/projects/si-school.html
I have participated in several NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) summer seminars/institutes.
These are wonderful opportunities for professional development. ( Brian Chance)

Please note the suspense date: The application deadline is March 1, 2011 (postmark).
Plan ahead to complete the application on time.
These seminars and institutes are offered by NEH -- not DoDEA.

DoDDS Reunion: July 21-July 25, 2011 in Orlando, Florida at The Rosen Plaza hotel. For registration information: www.doddsworldreunion.com or doddsreunion@suddenlink.net . Prices go up December 1.

WORTH REPEATING
NEA Health Information Network: Did you know there are a number of vaccines recommended for adults? Did you know that the viral disease known as shingles is increasing for older adults? Did you know that even though tetanus is rare in the U.S. adults over the age of 50 accounts for 70 percent of tetanus infections? To learn more visit www.neahin.org

Computer Safety Website: NEA supports the organization "bNetS@vvy". It is an organization offering trusted one-shop stop for information, tools and links to high-quality resources helping young teens stay safe online. www.bnetsavvy.org

Federal Retirement Website: FEA Europe Area Director Chuck McCarter shared the following website with me. I checked it out and subscribed for their newsletters. http://www.myfederalretirement.com/public/709.cfm

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to https://webapps.dodea.edu/lqarates/lqarates.cfm

Until the next update,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director