The following contains selected comments shared at a

                        Legislative Personnel Committee meeting where the

                        qualifications of a woman hired as a sign language

                        interpreter were discussed.

 

 

 

                                    Comments from State Work Force Director Bill

Walker re: media coverage of the situation

 

 

“I think the thing that disturbs me the most is that perhaps when the

                        information was disseminated…and I think we’ll answer all these

                        questions and concerns that you have and any others that you would

                        want to ask…I think I saw the worst in journalism on Channel 7…

                        because they told one side of the story.  And it was based on allegations

                        and innuendos and lies.  Very, very few facts.  And I’m disappointed

                        because I think it scared people that we serve.  And I think those people

                        deserve answers.  And I think they deserve facts.  And I think that they

                        didn’t get that.  And quite frankly I think they are due an apology.”

 

 

                        (Walker presenting a history/flow chart to the committee)

 

                        “I want you to know that we didn’t just start working on this.  Mr. West

                        started this process back on the 27th…when he asked for this information.

                        “I’m appreciative of Senator Williams…Eddie Joe Williams…who himself heard this concern.  He investigated it.  We responded to him.  And he seemed to be satisfied.  Then he (West) went on to talk to Max Brantley and raise his complaint with him.  We responded to numerous FOI requests on May 7th…the 7th…and then he decided he wanted to go…I should add one other thing that is not on here…he did go to the Governor’s office.  His staff sat with us, we met on this issue, we looked at the files…everybody agreed she met the minimum qualifications.  They were satisfied.  Then he went on to Jason Pederson at Channel 7.  When I talked to Jason not one thing that I mentioned to him did he

                        say.  Not one.” 

 

(Viewers are welcome to review the four stories reported

                        so far and decide on their own if this allegation has merit). 

 

             

 

 

 

 

                                    Mr. Walker’s responses to questions regarding how

                                    the hiring process works at Arkansas Rehabilitation

                                    Services and questions about the selected candidate’s

                                    qualifications compared to other applicants:

 

                        “We’ve got people right now that manage this process extremely well...

                        very effective…that this community is totally comfortable with…that

                        has no QAST level and no certification.  That such man happens to be

                        the manager of the whole section…Mr. David McDonald.  No

                        certification.  No QAST level.  And he manages everybody here. 

                        Cheryl Stubbs when she came had no national certification.  Now I’m

                        saying we can require all we want to.  But we have to look at whether

                        or not we can take people, recruit people and help them to get where

we want them to be so that they’ll stay with us.  This lady right here (pointing at poster board) has done a good job in Hot Springs.  No certification.  No QAST level.”

                        (Committee Chair Rep. Bryan King) “She doesn’t have that right now?” 

(Walker) “Not at all.  She’s been with us…

                        (Carl Daughtery interjects)  She has a QAST level?  OK.  She has a QAST

                        level.  But not national certification.  She’s been with us for how long?

                        10 years?  10 years at the center.  Does a great job.” 

(Committee chair) “When did she receive her QAST level?” 

(Walker)  “I don’t remember that.  I don’t know that.

                        I can find that out if you would like to know that.”

 

 

 

 

                        “Now does she (the selected candidate) have national certification?  The answer is no.  She does not.  Is she interested?  Is she willing?  Does she desire to achieve national certification?  Absolutely.  Are we going to support her in doing so?  You betchya.  And why would we do that?  I’m proud to say that we do that for many of our employees.  We have a young lady who now heads up the section of sign language…came to us a few years ago…had no national certification.   She met other requirements…but she was willing.  We supported that.  We sent her to school.  We paid for her training.  We paid for the test she took to achieve national certification.  Not only did she get it but she qualified and she went on to work and now she has been promoted to section leader.  The manager that manages all of the sign folk has no national certification and no QAST level.  Zero.  Good guy.  All these folks back here (referring to the deaf people in the     audience) know David.  He’s been doing it for years.  Nobody has ever, ever raised the question of his credentials, his certification, his training, his QAST level.  Nobody ever said anything about the job description that             has been the same for more than 10 years.  We didn’t create it.  We didn’t change it.  But it has worked for us…very well.  Because we have been          able to attract people and help them and support them and train them and they stayed with us.  We’ve got another employee in this section.  She signs for us.  Has no national certification.  She has been with us for more than  10 years down at ATCI down in Hot Springs.  Does a good job.  Nobody has ever raised one concern about her credentials, her qualifications, her QAST level, her certifications…none.”

 

 

 

                        “If we had taken the position that we want the criteria to be that we

                        want to have these high QAST levels if you will…that we want to

                        have this national certification if you will…then there would be

                        nobody in our department today that would qualify…then.  They

                        would not have qualified when they came to us.  They would not

                        have.  And they’re good people who do a good job and they have

                        performed and served many of these people very well.  So…it’s

                        what we do.  And it is not unusual.  And had we made a decision

                        strictly and absolutely on certification…you would be right.  But

                        we don’t make decisions just on…I could give you a lot of examples

                        of the people that are most qualified who are perhaps not the best

                        workers.  They lack passion.  They lack commitment.  They lack

                        loyalty.  They lack the purpose in what we are looking for in our

                        employees.  Many of them they may come just to get a job and then

                        move on to another one.  Remember now…we can set

                        qualifications as high as we want to…we got to get our pay levels

                        up there as well.  Many of our folks deserve to be paid a whole

                        lot more and state government just has historically not been able to

                        offer that to people.”

                        (Committee chair) “But in this case we had people with certifications

                        that were applying for the job and knew how much they were going

                        to make.”

                        (Walker)  “And that very well may be all they had.  I’m not sure.  I

                        mean I didn’t go into the reasons why we didn’t select someone.  I did

                        look into why we selected someone because that was the point of

                        discussion.  And I’m not here to disparage anyone.  There could have

                        been several reasons why we chose not to hire somebody because they

                        met qualifications.  We could have somebody that meets qualifications

                        that had just been released from prison.  I don’t know.  We can have

                        them look at that if that is important.  We made the best decision based

                        on what we had for somebody to meet the needs that we had at that time.

                        and we looked at it from the total picture. It wasn’t about the test scores.”

 

 

 

 

                        “This lady (the chosen candidate) has worked for us for almost six months.  She has done everything we have asked her to do…including enroll in school to get this training…this certification.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments from committee Vice Chair Rep. David “Bubba Powers

 

                        “It appears we threw the preferred qualifications out the window.”

 

                        “If she didn’t score well on the test and if those preferred

                        qualifications…we had other applicants…I certainly understand

                        why the crowd is here today.   And again I think you have made

                        a compelling argument for your hire.  But…I certainly understand

                        why the folks have a concern about this.  And frankly if we hired

                        her for her passion and her work experience and some of the

                        things that you might have mentioned earlier I don’t disagree with

                        that.  But…there is a perception.  How much of it is true, how much

                        is not true, I don’t know.  But I suspect in the end you are going to

                        be able to defend your hire no matter what venue we talk about this

                        in.  But I do have a bit of a concern that we bypassed what seem to

                        us…and we weren’t involved in the entire process…but it seems

                        that some folks were overlooked and I think that is why we are here

                        today.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Comment from Carl Daughtery, the man who selected the

candidate in question and sent it to his superior Bob Trevino

for approval, after being asked by the Vice Chair what it was

about the candidate he picked that elevated her above the other

qualified candidates who applied: 

 

 

                        “Certainly Mr. West and Ms. Thomas certainly had national

                        certification and commendable…they’ve done a good job with

                        the agency and I really appreciate their commitment to the agency

                        when it comes to helping the community.  Now the same thing

                        what the director said I will refer back to…her experience and to

                        have an individual in her family who was deaf.  The volunteering

                        that she does with DHS and with the churches.  Her 20 years

                        experience as an employee.  And certainly with our agency, you

                        know, there are certain cases that are definitely preferred.  But if

                        we see an individual that we want to support…and certainly this

                        agency…Arkansas Rehabilitation Services…we have always

                        advocated for the underdog.  And I certainly want to apologize to

                        the community.  When this ad (KATV report) aired…I gotta tell

                        you…I know you all (the gallery) was scared…afraid.  I was scared.

                        My son yelled at me…Daddy you on TV.  And I want to thank Mr.

                        West because when it all aired…the way Mr. Pederson aired this

                        around…certainly my wife and all my family had some issues with

                        this.  So I do want to thank Mr. West for apologizing to me

(cough/inaudible)…for the way your family and everybody had been

                        represented the way Mr. Pederson didn’t ask anybody about this.  Let

                        me just say that was an issue.  But let me get back to the experience…

                        I really felt like since we advocate for people with disabilities and we

                        as an agency…here was an opportunity where we wanted to support

                        this individual and felt that she would be qualified and could

                        potentially be a good interpreter if we growed and supported that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    Interview with Dr. Glen Anderson (who is deaf),

                                    formerly Dir. of Training for the Research Training

                                    Center on Deafness for the U of A system:

 

                        Q:  Is having a deaf relative, signing in church and taking some

                             college courses and adequate substitute for certification?

 

                        “No.  The answer is no.  Because church interpreting is different

                        from professional interpreting.  The number of deaf people who

                        attend church reflects maybe a small number of people.  What we

                        are talking about is everyday life, you know, people on their jobs,

                        medical appointments, mental health issues, far more complex than

                        church interpreting.  So it cannot be substituted.  No sir.  You need

                        to be certified to be a professional interpreter.”

 

                        Q:  What does the deaf community think about this hire?

 

                        “The deaf community is not very happy.  It is an insult to both the

                        deaf community and the professional interpreting community.  We

                        expected the agencies to follow high standards in their hires of

                        interpreters.”

 

                        Q:  Is there anything you would like to add?

 

                        “Obviously she is not qualified for the position.  I’m happy that we

                        had this hearing.  I think that it is good that the legislators could hear

                        about this situation.  And hopefully there will be some positive

                        resolutions to this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    Interview with Bill Walker, State Workforce Director

 

                        “You were asked at one point of the meeting if (the chosen candidate)

could do what the interpreters were doing for the gallery here…and you said yes.”

                        “Yes, I did.”

                        “You’ve seen this document when she was interviewed by David

                        McDonald and was shown a video on sign language.  Mr.

                        McDonald noted that she did not understand the English or the

                        American Sign Language.”

                        (Walker nods in agreement)

                        “How do you justify what you told the committee with Mr.

                        McDonald’s assessment of her ability?”

                        “I justify it based on her 25 years of experience doing sign language.”

                        “She had that experience when she took this test, right?”

                        “Let me answer your question.  Do you want me to answer your

                        Question?”

                        “I do.”

                        “I justify it with 25 years of experience with sign language.  I also

                        justify it with her community outreach and her educational

                        background where she in college level courses took sign language

                        and passed those courses.  It was part of her minor that you have

                        never mentioned before in your reporting.  So that is how I justify it.”

           

                        “If she could sign what was going on here today why does she need

                        to enroll in a class at UALR?”

                        “She is pursuing the class for the purposes of seeking national

                        certification.  So that is a process that you go through for the

                        national certification.  It is the same process that we used for the

                        lady who is now manager of that section.  She went through the

                        same process to seek and get her national certification using the same

                        job description, the same criteria, everything.  Nothing is different…

                        except two different people.”

 

                        “This candidate already beat out six candidates with national

                        certification.  Why seek the certification now?”

                        “Well because we don’t limit it to certification only.  We made a

                        decision based on the totality of the issues.  You were here in the

                        committee when I discussed those issues.  We looked at her

                        educational background, we looked at her work background, we

                        looked at her community experience, we looked at her

                        commitment.  We looked at a lot of different things when we made a

                        decision to hire this person.  Now what I did not know and what I am

                        not aware of is what we looked at with the other candidates that they

                        perhaps did not meet up to.  And I’m not sure that that is helpful in the

                        process.  But my point is we looked at all of that and we made on the

                        totality of all of that information combined.  Not just on a score.

                        If all we were going to do was hire a person because they had

                        certification or a high score then all we needed to do was just let

                        them test and not talk to them at all.  We went through a interview

                        process.  We do that with all of our employees.  We pick the top 3

                        employees and we made a decision based on that as the person we

                        wanted to hire and bring on to the agency.”

 

                        “Was Mr. McDonald mistaken when he noted that she did not

                        understand English or ASL?”

                        “I think you would need to ask him that question.”

                        “Well he is not here.”

                        “O.K.  Well you can call him.”

                        “Have you asked him that?”

                        “No I haven’t.”

                        “You’ve never asked him ‘Why did you write that in your notes?  We

                        hired a woman and you said she didn’t understand English or ASL.”

                        “I didn’t ask him.”

                        “Do you intend to?”

                        “Ah…not really.  I’m comfortable with the decision that was made.”

 

                        “Anything you would like to add?”

                        “I just hope that you will be fair in your reporting and cover the whole

                        story and report all the facts.”

                        “Do you recall telling me you have a personal policy not to discuss

                        personnel matters with the media?”

                        “Yes I do.  I remember that.”

                        “I did call you and seek your opinion on this.”

                        “You did.  But I also shared with you a lot of information.  What you

                        had asked me for was an interview.  And what I said to you was we

                        will answer all of your questions, we’ll give you all this information…

                        which we did…but then I had a personal policy…agency policy…

                        practice rather…that we don’t do interviews on personnel matters.”

                        “Not an agency practice…it’s a personal policy.”

                        “No…it’s a practice.”

                        “There is nothing in writing that says the agency can’t discuss

                        personnel matters.”

                        “It’s not a policy.  It’s an agency practice.  There is a difference.  And

                        the agency practice has been that in personnel matters we don’t do

                        on camera interviews.  But we provided you everything you asked for

                        Jason and more.  Everything.  We didn’t deny you anything.  You had

                        the information.”

                        “I wasn’t told she signed at church for 10 years.”

                        “Did you ask that question?”

                        “OK…I didn’t ask every possible question about the candidate.”

                        “But even the answers we gave you…you didn’t report.  You didn’t

                        share anything that I gave you when I gave you all that information. 

                        not one thing.”

                        “Actually I could show you my report and contradict that statement.”

                        “I’ve seen it…but afraid I didn’t see much of that.  What I did see was

                        you go out and say the reason she got the job was because she worked

                        with Premier Funeral Home.”

                        “What I said was she listed you on her employment history.”

                        “And she disclosed that.  That was disclosed.  Is that wrong?”

                        “It might actually have benefitted her.”

                        “Well, OK.  You have that opinion.  I have a different one.  I think she

                        is a great state employee…has been for over 20 years.  And I think

                        that matters.”

                        “And I think she has got the practical experience, she has got the

                        educational experience, I think those things matter.  And I think she

                        ought to be treated fairly.”