Here is an update on the Social Security issue from MASA’s perspective.
Office of Administration
It is apparent that the Office of Administration (OA) does not believe that they have any role in challenging the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rulings or in solving this issue. MASA, MSTA and PSRS have provided accurate information, despite a recent letter to the contrary from OA. The State Social Security Administrator is upset about the large number of emails and phone calls OA has been receiving. Hopefully, OA now realizes the enormity of this ruling and its negative impact on Missouri education.
Commissioner Kent King has scheduled a meeting with OA, DESE staff and with representatives from MASA, MSTA, MNEA and AFT on Tuesday, November 18 to discuss the issue. My position at this meeting will be that there are over 500 core data position codes that list every position in the public schools. Until OA makes a determination on each and every position code, it is impossible for school districts and school employees to know exactly who will be impacted. Also, it is redundant to ask 500 school districts to submit requests for determinations on the same positions.
State Elected Officials
MASA is seeking a meeting with Governor-Elect Jay Nixon to discuss this issue. I see nothing wrong with bringing this issue to the attention of the Governor, state senators and state representatives. These individuals need to know that Missouri educators and public education will be negatively impacted by this ruling. They may have contacts and influence to help bring about a change.
Federal Elected Officials
I have been in contact with the offices of both Missouri Senators and several Congressmen. Senator Bond has sent an excellent letter to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration seeking an explanation of the recent ruling. A copy of his letter is on the MASA website at: http://www.masaonline.org/pages/uploaded_files/BondLetter.pdf. MASA has been providing information on the issue to Senator McCaskill’s office and I expect that she too will strongly support our efforts to solve this issue. MASA and MSTA are working with Congressman Graves’ staff to arrange a meeting with the SSA and staff members from the offices of all Missouri Congressmen. The goal of this meeting will be to: (1) Make sure all congressional staff members understand the issue; (2) Hear directly from SSA on their perspective; (3) Discuss how to bring about a delay in this ruling for at least one year; and (4) Discuss the possibility and strategy needed to enact federal legislation that would allow Missouri school districts to adopt modification agreements that reflect current practice. AASA has indicated they are willing to attend this meeting and help in any way possible. Our best hope for solving this issue is at the federal level.
A legal challenge has not been ruled out. This option was discussed at the most recent meeting of the Education Roundtable. All agreed that the challenge will need to come from an individual who is “injured”. If we exhaust our efforts to solve this problem through the federal legislative process, I a legal challenge will definitely be our next step. I am confident that all educational groups will support a legal effort.
What do you tell your staff?
Staff members should not make any hasty employment decisions based upon any rumor or current determination by OA. All of the education associations are working extremely hard on this issue. We are researching every possible solution. We are talking to anyone who is willing to listen. We are checking with other states. We have not thrown in the towel. At this point, there are more questions than answers. Staff members should focus his/her energy on sending emails to the Missouri federal elected officials.
The St. Louis Cooperating School Districts has an excellent internet portal that provides contact information for both state and national elected officials. This portal can be accessed at www.csd.org by clicking on the link in the lower right part of the page. MASA also has a link to this portal at www.masaonline.org and click on the CSD Legislative Action Center button on the left side of the page. Since the anthrax attacks, the preferred method of communicating with members of the US Senate and House of Representatives is by email or phone. Complete information on how to accomplish this can be found in the contact information on the CSD website.
I will update the MASA website at www.masaonline.org as new information becomes available.
Missouri Association of School Administrators
3550 Amazonas Drive
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Online at www.masaonline.org