I found a Microsoft Word document named FCRR DEBACLE.doc on mom’s old computer. It’s dated November 18, 2008 but the file stamp is November 21, so I think she must have spent a few days writing it. I don’t know if she ever sent it, of course, but I think it’s safe to assume she did. Mom really believed in the power of writing.
November 18, 2008
Ms. Joan Longstreth
620 East University Avenue
Gainesville, Florida 32601
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss a serious issue with you today.
My request for a meeting is based the fact that no one within the district advised me of my options at the time I was separated due to funding issues. (ie. a lack of funding for the third year of AmeriCorps.)
Everett Caudle, my supervisor, asked me to sign the Separation from Service form at least one month before the actual separation.
On July 31, I returned all of my keys to Everett. (It may have been a day or so later because I stayed to insure that all materials related to AmeriCorps were properly stored.)
At that time, I began to search for a new position, but, with the layoffs at UF and SBAC, it was pretty hard to find any positions in Gainesville. I looked online, in the newspapers, and spoke to long-time contacts.
In September, Donna Omer advised me that she was going to participate in a research program with FSU and the Florida Center for Reading Research. Since I had not found a viable position, I took Ann Bishop’s offer and continued to research available positions.
Unfortunately, that single move now puts me in a position wherein I might lose my home. If I had been provided with information at the time that Everett asked me to sign the Separation form, I would have known not to take the position with FCRR. Since my last official day was July 31, I would have been able to take money out of my investment funds on November 1, enough to pay my bills and have some left over.
As it stands currently, I am getting calls from my mortgage company and letters from other creditors.
It is untenable that persons who are separated from the district are not provided with clear information about retirement or separation options. It took me weeks to find out what I did not know, and, while teachers may have been given the information annually, I had no idea what the rules were until I found out that I lost my options.
I highly doubt that the district can do anything about this matter, and all of the fallout is on my head. I strongly recommend that every person who is retiring or let go obtain enough information to know exactly what their rights are pertaining to retirement or investment funds.
When I asked to take money out of my funds, I was advised that I can not take money out until March. If I had appropriate information in my hands when I left Everett’s office, I would have been able to obtain funds to cover my current bills, especially my mortgage.
Something should be done about this, especially as it relates to custodians, cafeteria workers, etc., some of whom might not understand the ramifications of the process.