A 20-year employee of the Department of Juvenile Services has been reassigned to the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, just a month before the school ceases to be a state facility.
The imminent privatization of Hickey makes the reassignment a firing, says the employee, Ken Walker, who alleges the department is using the school's unique status to get rid of him.
Walker was reassigned for administrative reasons that are supported by the department's personnel policies," said department spokeswoman Jacqueline Lampel. She said she could not discuss the case further.
When the General Assembly agreed to let a private contractor take over Hickey, it pulled the personnel numbers assigned to its employees, effectively abolishing their jobs. The contractor, Rebound of Colorado, has the option of hiring
those state employees, but it is not obligated to do so. Those who are not hired will be out of work Sept. 1.
But Walker is the only employee to be transferred to Hickey since the privatization decision was made, according to Lampel.
Walker, a youth supervisor with the Transportation Department, was reassigned July 25. He said he believes the transfer was ordered because he does not get along with his supervisor, Jessie McNair. He said the unusual situation with Hickey gives the department a chance to dismiss him without going through the state merit system, which would offer the chance of appeal.
The thing they're doing to me is punitive," Walker said. "They're constantly burning me."
McNair said he could not comment on personnel decisions.
Walker's union, the Maryland Classified Employees Association, has complained about the transfer and may file a grievance against the department, said George Gay, a labor relations representative.
Gay said he was told by the department's staff that Walker was sent to Hickey because he was "a problem." Walker said he has been involved in several disputes at work, involving back pay and a medical leave of absence.