Overview of the Merit System

Escondido is one of more than 100 school districts in California utilizing a Merit System of personnel management for its classified employees. This district adopted the Merit System in 1966. It is the responsibility of the Personnel Commission – an appointed three-member board of "known adherents" to the Merit System – to oversee this system by setting policy, adopting a budget, and appointment a Director of Classified Personnel and staff to administer the program. The chief components of a Merit System are:


The guiding principle of a Merit System is that each employee should be selected, retained, and/or promoted upon the basis of his or her relative MERIT as determined by competitive (and job-related) examination. Staff then "certifies" eligibles from the top three ranks of established eligibility lists to operating departments. "Top three ranks" means the top three individuals or individuals tied for the top three scores who are available for that particular vacancy or location. (If there are fewer than three ranks, the operating department has a choice of selecting or waiting for a new list.)


The Commission oversees the process of defining, categorizing, and allocating positions to appropriate classes, arranging classes into occupational hierarchies, determining reasonable relationships between classes within these occupational hierarchies, and preparing written class specifications. Typically, this process is the result of job audits (interviews) with, and questionnaires completed by, incumbents and supervisors, as well as surveys of classifications in other districts or agencies.


Permanent classified employees have the right to appeal a disciplinary action (termination, suspension, involuntary demotion) taken to the Board of Education to the Personnel Commission. The Commission has the obligation, under the Education Code, to investigate the matter on appeal. It may and, upon the request of an accused employee shall, order a hearing. The Commission has the authority to administer oaths, require evidence, subpoena witnesses, hire a hearing officer, and take other action to properly conduct the hearing. The Commission may sustain the decision of the Board of Education, modify it, or reverse it and order back compensation/seniority to the employee, if appropriate.


The Commission has the responsibility to develop, amend, interpret, and distribute rules for the Merit System, so long as such rules do not conflict with any area within the scope of representation (defined in Govt. Code Section 3543.2) that has been properly included in a negotiated agreement between the Board and the employee association. Subjects of rules are defined in the Education Code and include causes for disciplinary action.