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Grievance letter

Grievance letter

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Published by Carolyn Farr Smith
Grievance Letter from Fired Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell
Grievance Letter from Fired Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell

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Published by: Carolyn Farr Smith on Jan 08, 2013
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01/09/2013

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To: City Administrator Russ HawesFrom: Former Police Chief Keith Grounsell KPGDate: January 7, 2013Re: Official Grievance for the wrongful termination of Chief Keith P. Grounsell
Personnel Employment Action
Pursuant to the grievance procedure, I am requesting a hearing. This document is to serve as myofficial grievance for the wrongful termination as the Chief of the Simpsonville PoliceDepartment on December 28, 2012. Since the City of Simpsonville has changed their reasonsfor my termination at least 3 different times and one additional time based upon what I havelearned was discussed in the executive session; I will try and address all of the allegations one ata time. It should be known that I have met and spoke to a council member(s) and learned thatsome of the items in the document that I received on January 3, 2013, (via the U.S. Mail) aredifferent from what was discussed during the executive session as a reason for my termination.In addition, the document I received was signed by City Administrator Russ Hawes and HRDirector Lavada Galloway on December 31, 2012. This is three days after my termination dateof December 28, 2012. Since you failed to mention almost all of these reasons during theexecutive session on December 28, 2012, and wrote/signed this document after my termination,they are irrelevant. With that said, I will still go ahead and disprove each item on face valuebecause I have done nothing wrong.You should be aware that under Section 30-4-70 of the
 Public Official’s Guide to Compliancewith South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act 
(
SEE THE BELOW LAW
), it is a violationof the law to fail to give me the option of a public hearing before you opted to conduct theexecutive session to determine my employment. In addition, you failed to notify me that thisexecutive session had anything to do with me. I was told to be at the special city council session just like all the other department heads, so I should not have had any reason for concern when Inoticed there was an executive session to deal with a personnel matter at the police departmenton the agenda. I even called HR Director Lavada Galloway and she would not tell me who orwhat the personnel & legal matter pertaining to the Police Department was about that evening. Ishould have been advised it was about me and given the option of a public hearing, which Iwould have chosen.
SECTION 30-4-70. Meetings which may be closed; procedure; circumvention of chapter; disruption of meeting; executive sessions of General Assembly.
(a) A public body may hold a meeting closed to the public for one or more of the following reasons:This exemption deals with individual employment matters.
 However, employees have the right to demand an open hearing.
 (1) Discussion of employment, appointment, compensation, promotion, demotion,discipline, or release of an employee, a student, or a person regulated by a publicbody or the appointment of a person to a public body;
 however, if an adversary hearing involving the employee or client is held, the employee or client has the
 
 right to demand that the hearing be conducted publicly.
Nothing contained inthis item shall prevent the public body, in its discretion, from deleting the namesof the other employees or clients whose records are submitted for use at thehearing.
Under Section 30-4-70 of the
 Public Official’s Guide to Compliance with South Carolina’s
Freedom of Information Act 
(
SEE THE BELOW LAW
) it is illegal
to use “electroniccommunications” to
circumvent the system. According to a council member(s) this was violatedby Councilmen Matthew Gooch during the executive session when he shared an email, which is
an “electronic communication,”
with the rest of the council to persuade others to vote for mytermination. It is evident that this email occurred before the executive session because MatthewGooch brought a hard copy of this email with him to the council meeting. In addition, theactions of City Administrator Russ Hawes less than 24 hours before the date of my terminationindicated that he must have had a meeting or discussion about my termination with someone oncity council before the executive session on December 28, 2012. I know this because CityAdministrator Russ Hawes all of a sudden started approving items (via email) that I have beentrying to get him to approve for approximately two months. This is not a coincidence; it is anattempt at a cover up on behalf of the City Administrator to give the appearance that he has beentrying to work with me. In actuality, he has ignored my urgent request on numerous occasionsand felt it necessary to all of a sudden approve these things less than 24 hours before mytermination.
(b) Before going into executive session the public agency shall vote in public onthe question and when the vote is favorable, the presiding officer shall announcethe specific
 purpose of the executive session. As used in this subsection, “specific purpose” means a description of the matter to be discussed as identified in items
(1) through (5) of subsection (a) of this section. However, when the executivesession is held pursuant to Sections 30-4-70(a)(1) or 30-4-70(a)(5), the identity of the individual or entity being discussed is not required to be disclosed to satisfythe requirement that the specific purpose of the executive session be stated. Noaction may be taken in executive session except to (a) adjourn or (b) return to public session. The members of a public body may not commit the public body toa course of action by a polling of members in executive session.
 Some public bodies have abused the FOIA through “chance” 
 meetings at parties, over meals or through telephone or internet conferences. This kind of  activity is illegal and the following language spells it out.(c) No chance meeting, social meeting, or electronic communication may beused in circumvention of the spirit of requirements of this chapter to act upon a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
 
In press releases immediately after my termination, Mayor Perry Eichor has said that I failed to
 pass “probationary requirements” and that after a "performance review" it was decided to
terminate me because he said I was not a good fit for the City. It should be known that I onlyofficially worked approximately 40 business days on the job as the Chief of Police; the rest of my time was in training out of town. Due to the short time period on the job, I
don’t recall ever 
being given a performance review that the Mayor refers to in his statement. I have never beentold or given a copy of any
probationary requirements
specific to the job as the Chief of Police.In addition, I have never physically been given a copy of my performance evaluation (a/k/a
“performance review”) by my direct supervisor, City Administrator Russ Hawes. If I were given
a performance evaluation, I would have had to of signed it after it was explained to me. Mayor
Perry Eichor’s statements were factually inaccurate and this document does not
exist. Infurtherance of my argument, Councilwoman Geneva Lawrence has requested a copy of myperformance review and probationary requirements, which the Mayor claimed to be the reasonsfor which I was terminated. As of the date of this document, City Administrator Russ Hawes hasnever provided these documents to Councilwomen Lawrence, which leads Geneva Lawrence andany reasonable person to believe that they do not exist. If they did exist I would have signedthem myself and so would every member of City Council. Both Councilwomen GenevaLawrence and Sylvia Lockaby have repeatedly stated that they never saw or signed anyperformance review for me. In addition, City Administrator Russ Hawes has indicated in anelectronic communication to Councilwomen Sylvia Lockaby the following about my work performance:
he is clearly trying to do what he ca
n while away” at the police academy. This
proves I am doing the best I can under the constraints that have been presented to me. I wastrying my best under difficult circumstances, but the City Administrator intentionally avoidedresponding to my phone calls and emails, which caused additional problems for me. This was ontop of them forcing me to allow the Assistant Chief to continue her employment at the PoliceDepartment as my second in command, despite the numerous policies, ethical andinsubordination violations she has committed.I have been advised that in a discussion between Councilwoman Sylvia Lockaby and CityAdministrator Russ Hawes, Russ Hawes admitted that he did not answer all my emails. Hiscomplaint was that I sent him too many emails, which is not an excuse to ignore them. I wasdoing my best trying to manage things from 100 miles away at the police academy, but it isdifficult when your direct supervisor (City Administrator Russ Hawes) ignores your phone callsand emails. I was forced into a position to question my trust and the integrity of the CityAdministrator, so I created a paper trail by sending emails. It is unfortunate that I was forcedinto a position where I had to create a paper trail, but my p
erception of the City Administrator’s
constant refusal to answer my emails and phone calls forced me into this position. I was hired toemulate and uphold the trust of the public and unfortunately I do not feel those around me hadthe same goals in mind. Individuals like the City Administrator do not need to be in a position of public trust.

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