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GAE Legal Services… Standing with GAE members when they stand for justice 24 | KNOW • Volume 13 Issue 1 See the GAE Promise in Action. Real wins for real members. “I wanted to help out and offer my time to people I knew would appreciated it,” said Miss MaeDell. However, after raising concerns about a disparity in the amount bus monitors were being paid , Floyd County school system terminated Miss MaeDell. “They called me in to a meeting to tell me that they ‘solved the problem’ but couldn’t afford to pay me.” Heartbroken that she didn’t even get to say goodbye to the students who had become as attached to her as she had to them, Miss MaeDell found herself at a loss with what to do next. Despite the emotional strain, she decided to stand up for what was right. And because she’s a member of GAE, she does not stand alone. Be sure to follow along with legal updates from GAE Legal Services for future developments with Miss MaeDell’s case. “It’s all about helping and serving those who can’t afford to do so for themselves,” says Mike McGonigle, GAE General Counsel/Director of Legal Services. For him and a state-wide team of GAE network attorneys, standing up for educators and the underrepresented serves as a driving force on a daily basis. Unlike other education organizations, GAE does not have a predetermined “cap” on legal expenses in defense of member rights. So when 86-yearold GAE member Miss MaeDell Clark told her story to UniServ Director Rachel Blankenship, it only took a few phone calls to get Miss MaeDell connected to GAE legal services. Miss MaeDell Clark started her involvement with the Floyd County school system in 1989 when she moved from South Georgia to be closer to family. MaeDell, who had two school-aged grandsons at the time, started volunteering by selling ice-cream to keep an eye on her grandchildren. In addition to accumulating a significant number of volunteer hours, she also worked as the night-time supervisor for a retirement facility. But after experiencing the loss of too many of the residents to whom she had grown attached, MaeDell wanted to help people just starting to experience life. So, she signed up to be a bus monitor in 2004 to work with special needs children. MAEDELL CLARK VS. FLOYD COUNTY SCHOOLS Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) member and former bus monitor, Miss MaeDell Clark is suing Floyd County Charter System for violations of the Georgia Whistleblowers Act after they wrongfully terminated her for her objecting to their actions in cheating bus monitors out of their fair wages. Miss MaeDell is a kind senior lady who spent the last fifteen years dedicated to serving the children of Floyd County. Most recently in the past decade, she has worked as a bus monitor in her capacity as a licensed certified nurses aide providing care and supervision to children on the special needs bus. During this time, Miss MaeDell raised multiple concerns that the bus monitors were being cheated out of their fair wages by not being paid for the time they were working. Last year, a student on the bus who suffered from severe behavioral disorders attacked Miss MaeDell, bruising her entire face and breaking her hand. In spite of her injuries, the school district told Miss MaeDell she had better not file a workers compensation claim and even tried to demand she stop wearing the hand cast that was healing her broken bones. Last fall semester, Miss MaeDell continued to complain that she was still being cheated out of her fair wage and that they were shorting her on her timesheet. As a result, her supervisor called her into the office. Fearful she would be retaliated against, Miss MaeDell tape-recorded the conversation. At the meeting her supervisor informed her that they had checked her timesheet and that sure enough her paycheck had been short over one-hundred forty one dollars and fifty six cents. In the same breath, her supervisor also told her “But because of budget we are going to have to let you go.” Said GAE Legal Services Director Mike McGonigle (or Miss MaeDell’s attorney Julie Oinonen)….”If they can cheat a bus monitor out of her fair wages and then Ms. MaeDell pictured with attorney Julie Oinonen


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