On September 18, 2018, Government Brown signed, as expected, Assembly Bill 2160 relating to “part-time playground positions” in school and community college districts that operate under the merit system. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2019, and all playground supervisors (also known as noon aides) employed by merit system districts as of that date will automatically become permanent classified employees.
These positions were previously excluded from the classified service and the employees were not subject to the rights and benefits of classified employment. Primarily, they could be released “at will” as they never attained permanent status. Over several years, with the support of CSEA, these employees have gradually gained additional rights.
In 2002, Assembly Bill 2849 amended Education Code sections 45103 and 45256 to provide that playground supervisors were part of the classified service if the employee in the position was also employed in a regular classified position. (Statutes of 2002, ch. 1100.) On January 1, 2018, playground supervisors in non-merit system school and community college districts became part of the classified service pursuant to Assembly Bill 670 (Statutes of 2017, ch. 582). The merit system statutes defining the scope of the classified service (Education Code §§ 45256, 88003, and 88076) were not affected by AB 670.
AB 2160 completes this transformation by making playground positions part of the classified service in merit system districts. It also takes the additional and unprecedented step of declaring all employees in these positions on January 1, 2019 are to be deemed permanent district employees. Accordingly, any part-time playground supervisor employed in a merit system district as of January 1, 2019 automatically attains permanent status.
AB 2160 does not preclude districts from requiring playground supervisors hired on or after January 1, 2019 to complete the customary classified employee probationary period before they become permanent. This legislation leads to the rather unusual result that an employee hired on December 31, 2018 becomes permanent after one day of employment, while an employee hired on January 2, 2019 is required to serve a standard probationary period before becoming permanent. Selection and employment of playground supervisors on or after January 1 must comply with merit system statutes and rules.
Bargaining units are not automatically modified by the legislation. If the bargaining unit is a “wall to wall” unit representing all regular classified employees, playground supervisors would become part of the unit. However, if the unit is not “wall to wall” and playground supervisors are not currently included as part of the unit, either the employees or the exclusive representative (e.g., CSEA) must seek to include them through the unit modification process.
Playground supervisors (in merit system districts) remain “at will” through December 31, 2018. Until then, these employers continue to have discretion regarding the continued employment, or new employment, of playground supervisors. Given the protections conferred on permanent employees, merit system employers should determine prior to January 1, 2019 whether to retain current employees as playground supervisors.
This legislation is as significant for merit system districts, as AB 670 was for non-merit system districts. An entire classification of part-time employees, many of whom work only an hour a day, sometimes on inconsistent or as-needed schedules, will obtain new employment rights.