Former DOE principal wants job back - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Former DOE principal wants job back

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - A former Department of Education principal who was once demoted and then dismissed from his job is trying to get back into the agency. The staffer just won his case for back pay in the Superior Court and is going through the process of appealing his termination.

Eleuterio Mesa may be retired from the Government of Guam after working his way up the ranks in DOE, but he's trying to get his job back. Mesa was the principal at Agueda Johnston Middle School in 2006. He was demoted to the position of teacher following a dispute with DOE management relating to an off-island trip taken by students and two teachers at Mesa's school.

For nearly two and a half years, Mesa waited for his appeal to run its course with the Civil Service Commission, which eventually voted in favor of Mesa being reinstated and all of his benefits restored with the exception of back p ay. The CSC found that management violated the rules when it failed to give mesa the ability to properly respond to the notice of adverse action. He then took his case to the Superior Court seeking approximately $70,000 in back pay, arguing the Commission, based on its decision, should have declared his adverse action void and reinstatement should have included back wages.

The Superior Court agreed and ordered that the matter be sent back to the CSC.

Mesa meanwhile is currently before the CSC on a separate adverse action case, in which he was dismissed from his position as principal of Untalan Middle School. Almost one year ago, Doris Guerrero came to KUAM News complaining that her daughter was denied access to education when Mesa failed to provide her with a one-to-one aide as part of her individualized education program.

She said at the time, "He pointed his finger at me and said, ‘Where you going with this?', and I said maybe I'll take it further and he started accusing me of bad-mouthing him and he said his secretary told him that I said he didn't have any brains and he was unprofessional, and he was at my face and he lost it." Mesa retorted by saying she was, "Basically bad-mouthing me in front of teachers and staff that I don't know what I'm doing now I believe that's unprofessional of her."

Guerrero then said, "Of course I reacted to that and I said, ‘Wait a minute - I'm here for my daughter' and then it just got out of hand and he yelled for his staff to call the police, belligerent parent."

An investigation followed our news story and resulted in Mesa being served adverse action for refusing and failing to perform prescribed duties and responsibilities, being discourteous, unsatisfactory performance, and notoriously disgraceful conduct bringing the department into disrepute. 

According to the adverse action, DOE questioned Mesa's competency as a principal noting that failure to have a plan in place to provide coverage for students with disabilities reflects poorly on his ability to administer the routine daily operations at the school.  Additionally the department found that leaving the student in a self contained resource room rather than permitting her to attend her scheduled regular classes was sufficient enough to put DOE at risk and liable for costly litigation.

DOE noted, "Mr. Mesa's conduct in this situation falls two and half country miles short of the official school values that he is expected to model for the kids and the department's expectations of its principals to act with integrity, lead by example and treat members of the public with professional respect and courtesy at all times, even under difficult circumstances."  The civil service commission is currently holding merit hearings on mesa's case.  Another hearing will be held on January 31 and officials expect to wrap up the merit hearings by the end of February.  

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