Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Important Differences between TCCTA Professional Liability Insurance, and DCCFA Legal Defense

DCCFA and TCCTA are two independent organizations that serve different but similar and complimentary purposes.

Dr. Fred Newbury, professor of Economics at Richland College, has served multiple terms as DCCFA president, and served in 2010-2011 as TCCTA president.

According to Dr. Newbury, it is important for faculty to join and participate in both DCCFA and TCCTA.

“I hope all DCCCD faculty will join both DCCFA and TCCTA,” Newbury said. “I have seen so many cases where membership in both organizations has helped faculty generally, and many individual faculty who face unique challenges.” 

Through these organizations, two-year college faculty have a voice at the local and the state level.
For instance, through Executive Director Richard Moore and Chief Lobbyist Beaman Floyd, TCCTA provides important counsel for state legislators and their executive staff to advocate for faculty interests at the state level. Those who attended the 2015 DCCFA convention had an opportunity to listen to Moore and Floyd, and learn about their efforts on behalf of all Texas community college teachers. 

At the local level, DCCFA has worked hard to cultivate improved relations with numerous members of the DCCCD Board of Trustees and with the Chancellor and his staff. Better communication has contributed to improved compensation and working conditions. It is important that faculty maintain a “seat at the table” and continue the important work in the shared governance process. 

Likewise, according to Dr. Newbury and TCCTA Executive Director Richard Moore, TCCTA and DCCFA offer different types of professional liability and legal defense.

“The coverage provided by the DCCFA and the TCCTA Professional Educators Liability Insurance Program complement each other in important ways,” Moore said. 

“In my numerous stints on the Faculty Council, I have seen many instances where the DCCFA legal defense fund – and representation in grievance processes by the Council – has helped a member overcome an unfairly poor evaluation, contractual dispute, or academic freedom issue,” Newbury said.  

According to the brochure provided by TCCTA, members can purchase professional liability insurance that offers “protection for your assets if you are named in a lawsuit due to an event arising in the course and scope of your employment,” and “reimbursement of up to $10,000 per claim of attorney fees…if there is an action or proceeding against you involving: supervision, tenure, salary, leave of absence or dismissal; allegations of improper discipline of a student; allegations of improper contact with a student; allegations of sexual harassment; allegation of a violation of civil rights; and certification or licensure” and “up to $1,000 premium of bail bonds.” This coverage is set up for each academic year and is normally renewed in August.  Enrollment for the previous year is not a requirement for coverage.

Through DCCFA, per DCCFA Bylaws, members are eligible to request, and the association keeps funds dedicated to provide, “legal assistance and other necessary help for DCCFA members involved in contractual and/or academic freedom disputes within the Dallas County Community College District.” 

In order to qualify for legal defense funds, the faculty member must have been an active member of the DCCFA “for two consecutive years immediately prior to the year in which they request assistance, or have joined as active members in the first year they are eligible to become active members.” 

Therefore, not joining the DCCFA, or letting one’s DCCFA membership lapse, causes one to forfeit eligibility for possible legal defense funds until two full years after they have re-joined the DCCFA.

Faculty may direct further questions to their college TCCTA rep, and their college faculty association president.

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