Members Present: Hon. Gail Hagerty, Chair; Susan Hoffer; Petra Mandigo Hulm; Hon. Lisa
Fair McEvers; Ross Munns; Rod Olson; Hon. Dale V. Sandstrom; and Ted
Others Present: Sally Holewa, ex offico Amy Klein, staff Larry Zubke, guest Renee Barnaby, minutes
Chair Gail Hagerty called the meeting to order at 12:55 a.m., and welcomed new member Justice
Chair Hagerty stated the first item on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting will be
the election of a chair for the Personnel Policy Board.
Minutes It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Petra Hulm, to approve the June 22, 2012,
minutes.The motion carried.
Background Check Policy The Board received a request from Donna Wunderlich and Larry Zubke to consider changes to
the Background Check policy. Mr. Zubke stated in the past year, he has had two individuals that
have worked for him as temporary full-time technology coordinators and both of them applied
for full-time regular positions in his department. Those individuals were hired for full-time
regular positions and it seemed like a waste of time and money to have a second background
check performed on the individuals. He said not only did it delay the hiring process for two
weeks, but it also seemed a little degrading to make those people go through a second
background check. Mr. Zubke initially thought the court had to pay for the background check but
has since discovered that while we do pay for the fingerprints, we do not pay additional money
for the background check. If an individual is transferring to finance or juvenile court, a second
background check may be warranted. However, if an individual is going from one position to the
next without much variance in the nature of those two positions, he is not sure the second
background check is warranted.
Ross Munns said Unit 3 had a similar situation wherein a deputy clerk transferred from the
Grand Forks County district court to the Burleigh County district court. Because of the current
language and procedure, a subsequent background check was performed even though the person
had been with the court for 11 years. He noted the difference between his situation and Larry’s is
those transfers were already full-time regular employees versus temporary employees. He
referred to another similar example where one of the deputy clerks transferred from Burleigh
County to Cass County district court. That individual had less than three years experience but
was at full-time (regular) employee.
It was noted that one of the concerns with the additional background check is with regard to
transfers. The additional check creates difficulties because of the delay in being able to fill the
position. A supervisor cannot hire someone to fill the position that the employee is leaving until
the background check is received.
In response to a question from Susan Hoffer asking if the second background check is different
than the first, Ms. Klein responded the backgrounds checks are the same, the second one would
just be more current.
It was noted that the ethics policy does require full-time and temporary employees to report any
violations, but it is not an automatic. If an employee prefers to ignore or selectively remember to
report, the court could be putting itself at risk in a certain situation without the subsequent check
on the new position.
Chair Hagerty suggested the second background check could be at the discretion of the
supervisor so that the background check could be waived if the supervisor felt it was appropriate.
Rod Olson stated he likes the suggestion about leaving it up to the appointing authority to decide
and does not want to get rid of it completely. If a juvenile court officer is hired, it is important to
do another criminal history check.
Justice Sandstrom recalled the history of when the Court System first implemented background
checks. It was discovered that an employee who had worked for the Court System for over a year
had a felony charge in another state related to misconduct. Since that incident, Keithe Nelson,
former State Court Administrator, had made the decision to perform background checks on new
Judge McEvers said in light of Justice Sandstrom’s comments and the way people travel from
state to state, she suggested we may be putting ourselves at risk by waiving the second
background check. She said even an 11 year employee could possibility have a violation that
they did not self report. She would rather error on the side of protecting not only the juveniles
that might be exposed, but also from other types of liability as well.
Sally Holewa stated she is in favor of having some discretion but with some parameters such as if
the position is similar in nature and the employee has not had a break in service; however, she
suggested a time frame of three to five years be added.
Justice Sandstrom noted the language as proposed does not actually say that the person is
currently an employee of the Court System. As it reads, it says a person has just been regularly in
a position somewhere without a break in service.
After discussion regarding the draft language, Chair Hagerty proposed the following language
under section A: With a conditional offer of employment, candidates for temporary and regular
positions, as well as positions employed through a staffing agency, will be subject to a criminal
background check. The requirement may be waived by the appointing authority if the candidate
is currently a Court System employee and
1. The candidate has had a background check by the Court System within the past 3 years;
2. The candidate has not had a break in service; and
3. The candidate’s new position is similar in nature to the position the candidate is leaving.
Petra Hulm said with regard to the language under section 3, what would be considered a similar
position? Judge Hagerty commented the appointing authority would have to make that decision
and it is discretionary with them.
Susan Hoffer stated she has been with the Court System for 20 years and when she applied for a
different position in the system in 2007, she was required to do a background check. If someone
who has been employed with the Court System for three years does not have to do a background
check, she is wondering if it will disgruntle long-term employees.
Ms. Holewa said she does not view the background check as degrading. It is a clear signal that
the organization is going to give an employee either greater access to confidential information,
greater access to financial controls, or more of a decision-making capacity. The fact that a
second background check is needed is not something that anybody should feel insulted about.
In response to a question from Ms. Hoffer asking if there is a question on the application
referring to the applicant’s legal history, Ms. Klein responded it is on the application and the
same application is used for internal and external applicants.
It was moved by Justice Sandstrom, seconded by Ted Smith, to adopt Judge Hagerty’s
Ms. Klein stated with the discretionary piece in the policy, it does open itself up where we could
be tough on a protected class or discriminate unintentionally. For example, in the end it looks
like we did background checks on people who were 50 or older. Chair Hagerty suggested that
might be something we should be monitoring. Ms. Klein said she could keep a spreadsheet and
The motion carried unanimously and the policy will be sent out to employees for comment.
Professional Development Policy Larry Zubke requested the Board consider an amendment to the Professional Development policy
that would increase the reimbursement benefits. The current policy only pays for tuition and has
a lifetime cap of $5,000. He said an unofficial poll recently conducted in the Bismarck-Mandan
area showed the different professional development policies in both state and private industries.
He noted all but one of the agencies polled did not have a lifetime cap and limited the
reimbursement to a percentage of each class with reimbursement ranging from 50% to 100% of
the costs. The Office of Management and Budget, ITD and Department of Human Services
reimburse at 80% per class and pay for tuition and fees. He is requesting the Board consider
adopting similar reimbursement practices. Mr. Zubke said incorporating these changes will
strengthen the court’s workforce, help retain existing employees, and help with the recruitment of
Justice Sandstrom noted it had been quite a few years since he was on the Public Service
Commission, but he recalled every agency had some type of limitation on the total amount paid.
He also recalled the degree needed to assist the employee or be related to the employee’s current
position. He said while we certainly want our employees to improve themselves, we should not
be paying for their education to move on to another position elsewhere.
In response to a question from Rod Olson asking how many employees have used the
Professional Development policy in the Court System, Ms. Klein responded according to the
Accounting Department, since 2008, we have had two employees: one worked in IT and the other
in the State Court Administrator’s Office.
Ms. Holewa said if passed, it is something that would have to be considered in future budgets.
Petra Hulm also noted that if a request exceeds budget availability, the appointing authority may
reduce the amount awarded to each employee.
Ms. Hulm stated as the Supreme Court employee representative on the Board, she too visited
with Mr. Zubke’s employee concerning this policy. The employee expressed concern with the
lack of information available on what is covered in the policy as well as the $5,000 cap. Ms.
Hulm said she too struggles with the intent of the policy. She suggested adding language stating
if an employee quits within two years, they would need to repay a certain amount, or within three
year, a certain amount. She said she would also like to see a plan from the employee stating how
the degree would tie into their position.
Rod Olson noted it is important for the Board to discuss a goal. For example, is it our goal that
we help an employee get a four year degree or is it our goal that we are going to pay for certain,
specific classes that deal directly with their job. It may be easier for IT to take classes directly
related to their job than it would be for someone in the trial courts who wants to get a degree in
business administration or criminal justice.
Justice Sandstrom said the policy should not include educational institutions that allow students
to buy college credits based on life experiences and apply it towards a degree.
Ross Munns stated he supports removing the cap as long as we build in a graduated plan on what
happens if the employee leaves. Also in that equation should be the total amount paid to that
Mr. Olson said he is somewhat uncomfortable without having some type of cap. It would be
hard to budget for and it just leaves an open door. He suggested adding language to the policy
stating the person needs to have worked for the Court System for a year or two before the person
would be eligible to apply.
Judge McEvers said under section 3.I on the repayment portion, there should be clarification
concerning the language referring to “within one year of the completion date of the course of
study”. There is a different between a course and a course of study. If someone is completing a
degree that is one thing, if the person is taking a course that is another.
Chair Hagerty instructed Ross Munns and Petra Hulm to draft a proposal for review at the next
[Mr. Zubke left the meeting.]
Administrative Rule 33 The proposed changes to Administrative Rule 33 were sent out to employees for comment. One
comment was received correcting a spelling error in section 6(A)(1).
It was moved by Judge McEvers, seconded by Ross Munns, to correct the spelling error
and forward the policy to the Supreme Court for consideration. The motion carried
Compensatory Time Biennium Payout At the January 2011 Personnel Policy Board meeting, Judge McEvers suggested, as a point of
discussion, that perhaps the Court System should contemplate paying out compensatory time that
is on the books rather than carrying it over to the next biennium. It was noted that Don Wolf,
Director of Finance, did not support the payout. Ms. Holewa said she concurred with Mr. Wolf
and would be in favor of leaving our compensatory policy the way it is.
In response to a question from Petra Hulm asking what happens when people go above the
maximum of 40 hours of compensatory leave, Ms. Holewa responded the supervisor is contacted
and the employee is given 30 to 90 days to work it back down under 40. Generally, because
comp time and overtime have to be approved ahead of time by the supervisor, we are often times
aware of it.
Susan Hoffer said as a manager/supervisor in her office, allowing compensatory time to be
accumulated causes her office hardship down the road when the employee has to take that time
off. She too agrees that it needs to tightly managed as in the end, not much is gained by it.
In response to a question from Judge McEvers asking how the Williams County clerk’s office
deals with their shortage of clerks, Ms. Holewa explained the Chief Justice has authorized each
person to accumulate up to 30 hours of overtime that can be paid. However, they are still
running 4 to 6 weeks behind on all of their work.
After brief discussion, no action was taken.
Definitions and Filling Classified Position Vacancies Policy Amy Klein said the proposed changes include replacing the term “Certificate of Eligibles” with
“Referred List” in the Filling Classified Position Vacancies policy and on the Definitions page.
The term Certificate of Eligibles is misleading and a person may think that those on the list have
certifiably met the minimum qualifications. With the online applicant tracking system,
candidates self-select answers that allow them to either pass or fail, and Human Resources does
not certify that the applicant is in fact qualified. Thus, they are not certified until the supervisor
reviews the applicants. The online tracking system refers to the candidates sent to supervisors as
the Referred List.
After brief discussion, it was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Susan Hoffer, to change the
name. The motion carried. This policy will not go out for comment because it is a clerical
Salary Administration for Classified Employees Policy Sally Holewa stated the proposed changes to the Salary Administration for Classified Employees
policy are not actually changing the policy but are intended to provide clarification on how step
increases are administered. Amy Klein said language has been added to section D.1.a. to provide
that a step increase after the introductory period is considered an odd year increase. The
language under section D.1.b. provides that an employees who is promoted or reclassified above
step one will be eligible for a step increase after two years of service in the new pay grade.
In response to a question from Judge McEvers asking if the introductory period can be extended,
Ms. Klein said it happens occasionally but it will not affect an employee’s anniversary date.
In response to a question from Ted Smith asking when someone is promoted or reclassified, at
what step do they enter the next pay grade, Ms. Klein responded the person receives a 5%
increase or an increase to the minimum of the new pay grade, whichever is greater.
Ms. Klein said with regard to the proposed changes to section E.3., instead of completing a form
to certify performance and minimum qualifications when an employee receives a career ladder
advancement, the employee will now receive an offer letter. With regard to the changes in
sections F.2 and G.2, instead of completing the classification change form to certify that the
minimum qualifications have been met for an employee, the supervisor will certify it through the
online applicant tracking system.
It was moved by Justice Sandstrom, seconded by Susan Hoffer, to send the proposed
changes out for comment. The motion carried.
Other Business An appeal hearing is scheduled for March 6, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. Chair Hagerty noted it is
important for the members to attend the hearing. If an insufficient number of Board members are
present, the hearing cannot be held.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.