Can they be fixed?
Basically, they don't exist.
If you've ever wondered why so many DOE employees are so bad at conflict resolution, the following Request to Access a Government Record says it all. The State of Hawaii Department of Education doesn't teach its employees any professional conflict resolution skills much less monitor and measure outcomes to identify and correct common or recurring problems.
Like praying to God, it's a sign of your own faith and hope if you do, but no one is going to answer.
Below is testimony I sent to the BOE for their 8/18/22 meeting with a six-page outline of several ways the DOE could improve communications.
Sent to Hawaii State Superintendent & Deputy Superintendent
In July 2022, I sent the following list of articles about conflict management along with a complaint about how a problem at my local public school had been mishandled, and the Complex Area Superintendent had done nothing about it.
The opening of Forbes Article by Mike Myatt explains why the Hawaii Department of Education, which almost always mishandles conflict, keeps falling down and is NOT a leader in education. He begins...
"Here’s the thing - leadership and conflict go hand-in-hand. Leadership is a full-contact sport, and if you cannot or will not address conflict in a healthy, productive fashion, you should not be in a leadership role. From my perspective, the issues surrounding conflict resolution can be best summed-up by adhering to the following ethos:
Don't fear conflict; embrace it - it's your job.
While you can try and avoid conflict (bad idea), you cannot escape conflict. The fact of the matter is conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. It will find you whether you look for it (good idea – more later) or not. The ability to recognize conflict, understand the nature of conflict, and to be able to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader – the inability to do so may well be your downfall."
In the PDF that follows, is the written correspondence concerning the latest conflict with the DOE. Why do I have so many conflicts with DOE managers? I'm outspoken, and I fight injustice where I see it. I'm intelligent. I seek solutions to problems, and the first step is always to identify problems. To many DOE administrators, someone like me is threatening. But, I keep going because I honestly believe that each of us needs to be the change we want to see. Will you join me?
Subject: Improving DOE Conflict Management Skills – Last Chance to Resolve this Conflict Appropriate
August 28, 2022
To: Keith Hayashi, State of Hawai‘i Department of Education Superintendent
Heidi Armstrong, State of Hawai‘i Department of Education Deputy Superintendent
Aloha Superintendent Hayashi and Deputy Superintendent Armstrong,
Perhaps you would like you to consider my offer to rewrite the end of this story. As it stands now, the DOE is looking rather inept. My recent UIPA request below has revealed that the DOE does not teach its employees any conflict management skills. That explains why my recent conflict at Na‘alehu School was handled so unprofessionally. This is a golden opportunity for the DOE to learn from its mistakes. I strongly suggest the DOE develop trainings and procedures about appropriately dealing with conflict. This will benefit the entire public school system. This issue is not unique.
My banishment, per these DOE directives written by Ms. Roddy and supported by the State Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent, does not end the conflict. The conflict does not end until it’s resolved appropriately. If the story of how the DOE handles this conflict is at an end as far as you’re concerned, that shines a very poor light on the DOE because this ending is unethical and in some ways, illegal, and it will come to light, one way or another.
First of all, I don’t think you can legally ban me from any public meeting held at any public DOE facility because some Principal and I had a disagreement, especially when there was no proper investigation to uncover all of the facts. You certainly cannot legally ban me for engaging in protected civil rights activities which is the behavior in which I was engaged on July 29, 2022 when Ms. Roddy demanded that I get off the campus. All I did was ask her if she was aware that Sue Aina, one of her teachers, had been granted a reasonable disability accommodation to work on the weekends and after hours. Ms. Roddy is the one who violated the ADA. After that, all I did was go to Ms. Aina’s classroom and try to help her organize her pencils. So, I did refuse to leave, but Ms. Roddy had no right to demand that I do so because I asked about Ms. Aina’s accommodation. I have no doubt that this problem has arisen because the Civil Rights Compliance Branch has continuously violated the ADA for over a decade; therefore, DOE employees, perhaps even the two of you, are poorly trained with regard to the ADA and probably unaware of the EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation. If you were more educated on the subject, I think you would have handled this differently. Maybe not. Maybe you don’t care about federal ADA regulations. And if you think that it’s moral to banish a handicapped teacher’s helper from campus based on a pretext of school safety when NOBODY ELSE WAS GOING TO BE WORKING THAT SATURDAY, well, let me be the first to tell you, it’s not okay. It is, though a stereotypical example of how the DOE treats handicapped employees.
So, do you want to handle this conflict in a more professional manner? If no, that’s the pathetic end to this phase of the story, and I move to the next phase. If yes, I suggest you start to formulate conflict management training for your employees. The articles that I sent to you are good starting point, and this conflict is a good test case. Then, let’s try this again – the right way. The first thing that should happen is a face-to-face conversation with all the parties involved and an impartial mediator. There won’t be any hissy fits about recording the proceedings. I have nothing to hide. Does the DOE? The parties would be me, Wilma Roddy, Sue Aina, the office person mentioned in Ms. Roddy’s letter below (I think it was Rowena Del Rosario), and whomever the anonymous complainants were who heard my argument with Ms. Aina. Let’s have them speak openly, with transparency, and hear what they have to say. Ms. Roddy was not completely truthful in her letters, and with everyone in attendance, the truth has a chance, slim as it is, that the truth can be revealed. Without that, the lies and gossip will prevail.
So, are you willing to try and create a better ending to this conflict, or are you going to stick to your guns, and keep the status quo in place? I look forward you your response.
20 Aug 2022 - Thank you for your email. I understand that you were temporarily banned from DOE school campuses or offices for a period of one year due to your disruptive behavior at Na'alehu Elementary School. Please note that the fourth paragraph in the letter to you from Principal Roddy states that you may be allowed to enter a school campus or administration office before one year if 1) you write a letter and state in writing that you will, in the future always conduct yourself in a courteous and respectful manner while on DOE property; and 2) we respond in writing granting you permission.
This is an option that is available to you.
30 Aug 2022 - You are suggesting that I write a letter to admit that I did something wrong. I'm not going to do that because I don't think I did anything wrong. It is Ms. Roddy who should be writing a letter to me to apologize for demanding that I leave the campus for asking about Sue Aina's reasonable disability accommodation. The issue at hand is that the DOE does not conduct professional conflict resolution methods to discover the truth and come up with a reasonable resolution. Ms. Roddy lied, accused me of something I didn't do, and you are not addressing that. And the DOE is not addressing the fact that Ms. Roddy's actions are not in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
So, it is evident that the DOE has no interest in the truth, doing the right thing, or implementing professional conflict resolution methods. I did give you the opportunity to make it right. You chose not to take it. Next phase begins.
Copyright © 2024 Vanessa Ott - All Rights Reserved.