Two school district employees filed grievances with their district. The grievances were denied by administration and the employees appealed to the board of trustees. Instead of allowing them to present their grievances to the board, the district referred them to a committee, which was an option contained in the district’s policy. The policy stated that if a committee hearing was held, the school board would make a decision regarding the grievance, but would not provide the grievant with a hearing before the full board. The employees filed an appeal to the commissioner of education, arguing that they were entitled to a grievance hearing before the board.

The commissioner of education agreed with the employees and granted their appeal. In doing so, he noted that school districts are required to adopt policies that provide district employees with the right to present grievances to the board of trustees. Because this is a right that is granted to the employee, only the employee can insist on a board hearing or waive it. The school board cannot refuse to provide a hearing because that is not the school board’s right. This right has also been acknowledged by the commissioner in a long line of cases.

The commissioner went on to say that a school board committee that does not include all the members of the school board is not the equivalent of the school board. Therefore, the district’s grievance policy violates the law. The district was instructed to adopt a grievance policy that requires the school board to conduct grievance hearings and which does not allow delegation of this duty to a board committee or any other body.