A former Lawrence police sergeant who lost his position in March related to a ticket-fixing investigation said Tuesday he was still awaiting completion of the city’s grievance process.
Michael Monroe said Tuesday he had participated in a recent hearing before a city grievance review board related to his March firing. He said the process is now in “stage four” of the city’s employee grievance process, which, according to the city’s employee handbook, is an appeal to City Manager David Corliss about the review board’s findings.
“We still have some time before we have a final resolution,” said Monroe, who declined further comment about the proceedings.
Monroe did not reveal the review board’s decision or say whether he or Police Chief Tarik Khatib was appealing the board’s decision to Corliss.
City Attorney Toni Wheeler said Tuesday she could not comment on Monroe’s case because it was a personnel matter.
Officials on March 22 confirmed that Monroe, a police officer since 1991, was no longer employed with the city. That was the same day Khatib said an officer previously suspended related to the ticket-fixing investigation was no longer a city employee, although the city didn’t identify Monroe as the officer.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said later in March he reviewed court cases that former Sgt. Matt Sarna, who resigned in February, and Monroe were involved in after the city provided him their names in connection with the city’s personnel investigation.
City officials have said the investigation revealed six speeding tickets were dismissed for a former Kansas Athletics official who now is in prison as part of the broader Kansas University athletic-tickets-for-cash scandal.
The day Sarna resigned, Khatib in a statement said the investigation revealed an officer had a long-term friendship dating to the late 1990s or early 2000s with the Kansas Athletics employee and received free or discounted KU tickets over a period of several years. At some point the athletics employee asked for help dismissing six speeding tickets he received from 2000 to 2009 or was about to receive. Khatib also said that the first officer, later identified by prosecutors as Sarna, may have asked a second officer two or three times for assistance in fixing the citations and that the second officer, later identified by prosecutors as Monroe, might have also received KU tickets through the first officer.
Federal prosecutors and Branson, in state court, did not file charges against Sarna or Monroe, saying the timing and circumstances of the receipt of the athletics tickets could not be directly linked to specific requests for fixing traffic tickets. Khatib did say conduct outlined in the internal investigation violated the city’s gratuity and solicitation policies.
According to state licensing records for law enforcement officers, Monroe was terminated March 22 from his employment with the department.
The city’s employee handbook lays out a five-step grievance procedure. In step three, employees or former employees who are not satisfied with a written reply to their grievance can appeal to a review board. Instead of a standing city board, the grievance review board is selected more like a jury.
It includes one city department director outside the department involved chosen from a rotating list; another separate supervisory employee chosen randomly from city payroll records; a nonsupervisory employee also chosen randomly; and a member of the employee relations council also chosen randomly and also outside the department involved in the hearing.
The final member of the board is a nonsupervisory employee from the division involved. This employee comes from a pool of five names randomly selected, and each side has a chance to strike two names until one person remains.
The hearing involves presentations from each side, including calling of witnesses, with the opportunity of the other side to ask questions.
Under step four, one side can appeal the board’s decision to Corliss, the city manager, who must then confer with the two sides and render a decision on the appeal within seven days after that hearing.
In step five, on all cases appealed to him, Corliss is required to submit copies of all grievance forms, supporting data and findings to the Lawrence City Commission. The commission can only determine whether the issue involved is one of policy and could alter policies and perhaps make them retroactive to the specific case.
But the commission cannot hold its own grievance hearing involving the parties.