The Termination Of Officer Richard Kerns

The Volusia County Personnel Board Of Officer R. Kerns

December 27, 2016
"In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous." - Tacitus


On December 20, 2016 - VolusiaExposed.Com attended and video recorded the Volusia County Personnel Board of former Correctional Officer Richard Kerns.
(see videos - right of page)

Kerns had been employed with the Volusia County Division of Corrections since 2001. However, in August of 2016 - Volusia County terminated his employment for what the County defined as excessive use of un-scheduled leave.

Basically - Kerns had used 3 1/2 days of leave from January to May 2016. This leave usage (approximately 42 hours) was within the limits of the jail's policy - which defines excessive leave as 60 hours or more. Regardless of this fact - that Kerns had not violated the 60+ hours mandate - the County still justified his termination - stating that Kerns had shown a "pattern" of calling in sick - connected to his schedule days off. (verification can be found in Assistant County Attorney Moore's closing statement - beginning of video # 6)

Is There A Pattern
Of Calling In Sick?

In our opinion - the truth is that the "pattern" defined by the County against Kerns - is in fact a pattern that is automatically attached to the jail's scheduling.

Most jail officers work the following two week schedule:

Monday(off) Tuesday(off) Wednesday(on) Thursday(on) Friday(off) Saturday(off) Sunday(off)

Monday(on) Tuesday(on) Wednesday(off) Thurday(off) Friday(on) Saturday(on) Sunday(on)

Therefore - absent the officer using un-scheduled leave on Saturdays - any usage of un-scheduled leave would automatically be connected with the officer's scheduled days off - the alleged pattern of abuse charged by the County against Officer Kerns.

Disparate Treatment?
The Rebecca Blair Comparison

First, it's important for VolusiaExposed.Com to point out that it was the County - AND NOT VolusiaExposed, or Kerns that introduced Officer Rebecca Blair into this personnel board hearing matter (as evidenced in Director Flowers' testimony). VolusiaExposed.Com is aware of Officer Blair's early history with the Volusia County Division of Corrections - and we fully support the County's efforts to salvage this officer's career. Our point is simply this - that after a fifteen year career - Officer Kerns deserves the same consideration (last chance agreement - see scroll box - right of page).

Officer Richard Kerns Personnel Board Hearing
December 20, 2016 - DeLand, Florida

Scroll Down To View Document
Officer Rebecca Blair's
October 31, 2013
Notice Of Demotion / Last Chance Letter

Now - with the above said in the defense of Officer Blair - a review of her past disciplinary history, and her usage of un-scheduled leave - when compared to Officer Kerns' same history - leaves us wondering whether Officer Kerns is a victim of disparate treatment.

During the board hearing - the County argued that in addition to Kerns' leave usage - that Kerns also had an insubordination incident lodged against him in January 2016. However, a review of page 3 of her October 31, 2013 disciplinary letter - Officer Blair was also disciplined on July 9, 2008 for insubordination. (see above right scroll box)

For us - Officer Blair's history of un-scheduled leave is much more significant then that of Officer Kerns. In fact - we noted that in 2004 Blair was suspended for four (4) days for failure to report to duty during an hurricane event.

To our knowledge - at least two officers have been terminated for failure to report to duty during a hurricane.

Lt. Robert Peitz was fired during the very same time frame of Officer Blair's (4) four day suspension - and Officer Dolores Lopez was fired in the late 1990s for failing to report to duty during Hurricane Floyd.

CLICK HERE - December 17, 1999 Orlando Sentinel Article - Dolores Lopez's Termination

While both officers (Peitz / Lopez) appealed their termination to the Volusia County Personnel Board - only Peitz received a positive outcome at the board hearing. The board ruled against Lopez - however, during that time frame - Volusia's corrections officers were represented by Teamsters Local 385 - and the union attorney discovered that the Personnel Board was not in compliance with the County's Charter. In response - the County offered Lopez her job back.

CLICK HERE - January 8, 2000 Orlando Sentinel Article - Dolores Lopez's Termination

Board Member Ezell Reaves' Question

VolusiaExposed.Com invites our readers to review Mr. Ezell Reaves question to his fellow board members regarding the last chance agreement given to Officer Blair. Reaves wanted to know whether the "last chance agreement" is mandated or discretionary. We suspect that Reaves was wondering why Blair was offered the agreement - while Kerns was not. (see video #6 starting around minute 32)

Reaves also indicated (questioned) that if the "last chance agreement" is not memorialized in policy - how could it be used? Exactly Mr. Reaves - exactly !. VolusiaExposed holds the opinion that by not offering Kerns the last chance agreement - the County's disciplinary action against him was disparate - especially after a comparison is done regarding both Blair's and Kern's disciplinary and leave histories.

Biases Within The Personnel Board?

VolusiaExposed has for years - seen the Volusia County Personnel Board as a "Kangaroo Court".

The board is selected and appointed by the County Council.

Currently the members of the board are past, or present business administrators - and / or past member(s) of the County Council.

Therefore, we believe it is reasonable to conclude that the board has a pro county administration bias - or at the very least - the appearance thereof.

This board on at least two ocassions have been found to be staffed by members that placed the board in violation of the County Charter. The first violation was attached to the above described "Dolores Lopez" incident (see above January 8, 2000 - Orlando Sentinel article - for more information regarding this Charter violation).

The second violation was the assignment of past County Council member Dwight Lewis to the Personnel Board - as outlined in our July 2, 2012 article.

VolusiaExposed.Com had a heck of a time convincing County Attorney Dan Eckert that Lewis' assigment to the County Personnel Board was a violation of the County Charter. But finally - Eckert admitted that it was a violation - causing Lewis to resign from the board.

CLICK HERE: Related VolusiaExposed Article - October 17, 2015
Judge Rules That The Volusia County's Personnel Board Was In Violation Of The County Charter

VolusiaExposed has also expressed concerns within our September 5, 2013 article - regarding Dr. Fran Duvall's assignment to the Personnel Board.

We suspect that Duvall might have biases towards law enforcement and correctional officers connected to the 2005 arrest of her son by the Volusia County Sheriff Department for second degree murder. We invite you to read our 2013 article for more information regarding our concerns attached to Duvall's assignment.

Our Final Thoughts

And there you have it - now make you own decision on whether Officer Kerns was treated fairly. We have concluded (our opinion) that he was not treated fairly - and others should be prepared to suffer his same fate - even as they are promised a fair hearing in front of the County's Personnel Board.

Here is our standard advisement for those that have a pending Personnel Board hearing... you are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Volusia County Personnel Board! (paraphrasing - Rod Sterling - from the Twilight Zone)

Good luck !