The Public Employment Relations Board has found Rocklin Unified School District retaliated against four nurses and ordered the district to reinstate them with two years of back pay, plus 7 percent interest.
In a ruling released Friday, Administrative Law Judge Robin Wesley found the Rocklin district violated the Educational Employment Relations Act by laying off nurses Jennifer Hammond, Genevieve Sherman, Susan Firchau and Jennifer Bradley.
"We've always been very unhappy with what happened and we feel vindicated," Hammond said Friday. "I'm ready and willing to take my job back."
The Rocklin Teachers Professional Association filed an unfair practice charge against the school district in 2010, alleging the four nurses were laid off in retaliation for asking their union for assistance regarding workload and safety issues.
"There were a lot of issues about safety," Firchau said. "One of the things for me was an issue about what is commonly called MRSA (a type of staph bacteria) the principal was sending kids home against my advice."
In PERB documents, the district argued that the nurses routinely said no to many requests and claimed their nursing licenses would not let them perform certain work.
Efforts to reach Rocklin Unified Superintendent Kevin Brown on Friday evening were unsuccessful.
Rocklin Unified argued that the nurses were laid off in 2010 due to budget shortfalls and a plan to restructure its health services.
Once they were notified that they would be laid off, the nurses said they were further targeted for attending layoff hearings.
Judge Wesley cited an email from Superintendent Brown that expresses, "at minimum, disappointment in the nurses' decision to attend the layoff hearing rather than forgo the hearing to provide for student health care needs."
During the 2009-2010 school year, the 11,000-student district had five nurses working four full-time shifts. Among other things, the nurses prepared student health assessments as part of individualized education plans for determining whether a student is eligible for special education services.
The school nurses also prepared health plans for students with severe medical conditions, performed vision and scoliosis screenings, provided first aid and administered insulin to diabetic students.
"People need to understand that school nurses don't hand out Band-Aids and ice," Hammond said.
According to documents filed in the PERB hearing, Hammond said her relationship with district administrators became strained when she refused to perform duties she felt were unsafe or illegal.
In one example, Hammond said she was told to train a bus driver how to suction a student's trachea tube. Hammond said she did not feel that was safe after reviewing the student's medical records, visiting with parents and talking to the bus driver.
Hammond, who has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years, said she is unsure how much the district will ultimately have to pay following the PERB ruling. She said Rocklin's attorney fees are likely to be more than the nurses' two years of lost wages.
"I love, and still love, my job in Rocklin," Hammond said. "I always did. I live here. My kids went to school here and received a great education here."