Timeline of Events

The Fresno Teachers Association leadership is committed to transparency. It is critical that we provide all information regarding this matter to you.

Dec. 3, 2018: FTA Executive Board Meeting

E-board unanimously approves a recommendation to the Representative Council of a $5 monthly contribution plus initial funding of a 501(c)3 non-profit to support quality education in Fresno via student scholarships, teacher grants, and community partnerships.

Dec. 10, 2018: Representative Council Meeting

FTA Pres. Bonilla gives an approximately 40-minute presentation on the non-profit plan, including the proposed $5 monthly contribution.

According to FTA attendance records the following lawsuit petitioners were NOT in attendance:
Felicia Burrell
Hilary Levine
Rebecca McAlary
Virginia Rivera
Mark Vargas

*Note: Information is in meeting minutes, which are distributed to school site boxes of absent representatives. *

Jan. 14, 2019: Representative Council Meeting:

During FTA Pres. Bonilla’s report there is a reminder about the non-profit and the $5 monthly contribution.

According to FTA attendance records the following lawsuit petitioners were NOT in attendance:
Felicia Burrell
Hilary Levine
Rebecca McAlary
Virginia Rivera

*Note: Information is in meeting minutes, which are distributed to school site boxes of absent representatives. *

Feb. 4, 2019: Representative Council Meeting:

During FTA Pres. Bonilla’s report there is a reminder about the non-profit and the $5 monthly contribution.

According to FTA attendance records the following lawsuit petitioners were NOT in attendance:
Felicia Burrell
Hilary Levine
Rebecca McAlary
Maria Rivera

*Note: Information is in meeting minutes, which are distributed to school site boxes of absent representatives. *

Feb. 10, 2019: All Member Email Sent via Constant Contact

Email Subject Line: The Next Step in Transforming Education in the Central Valley

The email proposes the non-profit’s mission and the $5 monthly contribution.
(30-day notice to the general membership in accordance with bylaws Article V Section B:
A notice of intent to change the dues index will be given to the general dues-paying membership 30 days prior to action by the Representative Council.)

Mar. 1, 7, 11, 2019: All Representative Email Reminders

All site rep. email reminder about rep. council meeting.

Mar. 11, 2019: Representative Council Meeting

Representative Council approves Non-Profit and funding.
*No one calls for vote division or challenges quorum.

March 18, 2019: Email from FTA member and lawsuit petitioner, Hilary Levine

FTA member sends an email to voice her concerns. Email is sent to FTA leadership and CTA representatives. In the email, she states to Pres. Bonilla, “Your lack of experience may even be the reason you seem to feel you are able to lie to the members or deceive us and get away with it.”

March 21, 2019: Viking Elementary representatives meeting

Representatives from Viking Elementary, including one lawsuit petitioner, meet with FTA Executive Director Louis Jamerson and President Bonilla. Their main concern is about the FTA bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order. There is a discussion and both Executive Director Louis Jamerson and Pres. Bonilla offer to visit the school site to further discuss with site members.

April 1, 2019: FTA Executive Board Meeting

E-Board approves non-profit opt out procedures in standing rules.
E-Board approves voluntary contribution form, based on CTA’s version of the same form, allowing members to opt-out of the $5 voluntary tax-deductible contribution for the non-profit.

April 8, 2019: Representative Council Meeting

April 8, 2019: Representative Council Meeting:
Voluntary Contribution Change form is shared with the site representatives, along with a Q&A document.

Click HERE for Voluntary Contribution Change Form
Click HERE for Q&A Document

April 18, 2019: Email from FTA member and lawsuit petitioner, Virginia Rivera

Email sent to Pres. Bonilla’s personal email by FTA member, Virginia Rivera, to ask if a notice was given out in accordance to FTA bylaws. Pres. Bonilla responds within an hour and gives specific date in which it was delivered and the subject line to research when looking for email.

April 29, 2019: Email from FTA member and lawsuit petitioner, Virginia Rivera

Virginia Rivera emails FTA Pres. Bonilla, along with CTA Director Eva Ruiz, and former CTA Pres. Eric Heins stating that the Viking staff is disappointed that a copy of the notice of intent was not given to Virginia. Also stating that FTA Pres. Bonilla “failed to prove that the notification was sent out as bylaws dictate.”

Email includes a scanned letter addressed to FTA Pres. Bonilla and Executive Director Louis Jamerson, stating that the notice of intent was not delivered to the staff. This letter is dated April 12th which is six days before the original request.

May 1, 2019: Email from FTA Pres. Bonilla to FTA member and lawsuit petitioner, Virginia Rivera

FTA Pres. Bonilla responds to the April 29th email showing all the dates of the communication regarding the non-profit, including the dates/time in which the Viking staff opened the Feb. 10, 2019 email based on data tracked by the Constant Contact system.

May 1, 2019: Email from FTA member and lawsuit petitioner, Virginia Rivera

Virginia responds that the notice of intent is not valid.

May 13, 2019: Representative Council Meeting

FTA members and lawsuit petitioners, Virginia Rivera and Hilary Levine, make a motion to add an agenda item regarding the non-profit passage process. The motion is voted down.

During open communication Virginia Rivera and Hilary Levine both claim that bylaws were violated in the passage of the non-profit. President Bonilla provides a detailed account of the timeline. President Bonilla surveys the entire representative council on whether they feel as this was passed correctly and whether the body considered this matter closed. A super-majority raise their hand in agreement. A CTA Director is in attendance.

May 20, 2019: Meeting with FTA member and lawsuit petitioner, Virginia Rivera

Virginia Rivera meets with FTA Executive Director Louis Jamerson at the FTA office. She says she doesn’t agree with the Representative Council. She believes that bylaws were broken. Executive Director Jamerson explains that a super-majority of her colleagues surveyed at the Representative Council disagree.

June 11, 2019: Lawsuit Filed

June 11, 2019: Lawsuit Filed
FTA members Hilary Levine, Felicia Burrell, Maria Rivera, Virginia Rivera, Rebecca McAlary, & Mark Vargas file a lawsuit against the Fresno Teachers Association and President Manuel Bonilla.

In part, the lawsuit alleges the following:
“a motion was introduced to increase the dues of members of Respondent FTA, and said motion was declared by Respondent Bonilla to have been adopted, even though no notice of intent to change the dues had been given to the dues-paying membership of Respondent FTA prior to said meeting of the Representative Council.”

“Respondent Bonilla refused to allow a count of those voting at the Representative Council meeting on March 11, 20 19, to determine whether a majority of the present Representative Council delegates had in fact voted to increase the membership dues.”

The petitioners are in part seeking the court to do the following:
“to cancel and undo whatever actions were taken to implement said motion…” and for FTA to pay their attorney fees.

*Note: The petitioners do not mention of the opt-out procedure or the voluntary contribution change form in their lawsuit claim.

Click HERE to read the lawsuit filing.

July 22, 2019: FTA Executive Board Meeting

July 22, 2019: FTA Executive Board Meeting:
The FTA Executive Board meets with a lawyer regarding the lawsuit. It’s determined that Pres. Bonilla followed the FTA Bylaws by effectively providing 30-day notice to the general membership in accordance with bylaws Article V Section B:
A notice of intent to change the dues index will be given to the general dues-paying membership 30 days prior to action by the Representative Council.

However, due process normally requires includes the specific date and time of when the vote takes place (something that is not included in the FTA Bylaws).

While the FTA Executive Board believes that sufficient notice was actually provided to FTA members, in order to avoid having to spend tens of thousands of dollars in membership funds to defend this lawsuit, the Executive Board concludes that the quickest and most cost efficient resolution is to rescind the prior resolution and to re-notice the action approving the contribution for the Foundation.

The FTA Executive Board instructed the lawyer to inform the petitioners’ lawyer that another vote would take place in October and in exchange the petitioners could withdraw the lawsuit without prejudice.

July 23, 2019: Call with FTA Lawyer

The FTA lawyer informed Pres. Bonilla that the petitioners would only withdraw the lawsuit if a physical notice was mailed to the 4,000 FTA members, notifying each member that there would not be an assessment deduction.

FTA Pres. Bonilla responded that he would notify the entire FTA membership via their personal email, but would not send out a physical mailing as the cost of the sending out 4,000 letters is high.

The petitioners refused.

July 24, 2019: Call with FTA Lawyer

The petitioners’ lawyer contacted the FTA lawyer and stated that the petitioners would dismiss the lawsuit if a notice was emailed to FTA members, notifying each member that there would not be an assessment deduction, through their Fresno Unified School District work e-mail.

Pres. Bonilla again offered to send the notice via FTA members’ personal email, but the petitioners refused. The parties are unable to resolve the issue.

July 29, 2019: Demurrer Filed

The lawyer representing FTA files a demurrer, which is a written response to a complaint filed in a lawsuit which, in effect, pleads for dismissal.

Click to read the filings: Filing 1 & Filing 2

September 4, 2019: Petitioners Withdraw the Lawsuit without Prejudice  

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