The day after potential criminal charges were ruled out in the Palo Alto Children's Theatre investigation, a union spokesman has announced that Costume Supervisor Alison Williams will be allowed to return to work next week.
Program Assistant Richard Curtis, the other union employee who has been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 24, is facing possible termination, however, according to former union leader Phil Plymale, of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521, the largest union for city employees.
The two employees received phone calls Friday morning from Human Resources Director Russ Carlsen, Plymale said.
Williams can return to work Tuesday, but Curtis has been recommended for termination, he said.
"The union's going to continue to work aggressively to appeal any of this," Plymale said. "We don't think he did anything wrong." Plymale said he does not know yet the reasons for the proposed termination
Curtis was suspected of accessing his computer at the Children's Theatre while attending the February memorial service for Assistant Director Michael Litfin, who died a week after he and the other three were suspended.
The employees on leave had been given special permission to enter the theater attend the service. They had been forbidden from talking to each other or the media. .
In a statement, Plymale also spoke out against Police Chief Lynne Johnson's Thursday news release announcing the end of the criminal investigations.
Plymale, quoting Johnson's assertion that there are "significant instances of serious financial misconduct and other possible criminal activity," asked why is she not taking those instances to the District Attorney's office?
"So why continue to trash the reputations of our professional staff ... when the evidence does not rise to prove it? This is reprehensible conduct by city management to potentially cloud the careers forever of these innocent professionals," Plymale wrote.
Briggs is a member of the city's management/professional bargaining group. Her attorney, Jon Parsons, was not available for comment Friday. He said Thursday he expects to learn about Briggs' status "within the next week."
Williams and Curtis have both been involved with the theater since 1981. Williams began as a volunteer with the Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, according to her biography on the city's Web site. She has been the costume supervisor since 1985. She also designs programs and other materials for the theater.
Plymale said Williams was feeling shock and confusion.
"She's afraid they're going to try to have her sign things and so forth: You can't talk to this person or that person," Plymale said. "She's just kind of suspect of the whole process.
"She's not happy as far as the whole thing goes. It's going to be an adjustment for her (to be) back. Like I said, it's disgusting that they continued with those kind of quasi-allegations even when they couldn't really prove it just to cloud her life," he said.
If Curtis appeals, he faces a lengthy appeal process, which will begin with a meeting to address the grounds for termination, Plymale said.
The city can then agree to drop or alter its decision, but Plymale admitted that doesn't happen often. The city would notify Curtis of its decision via a letter, Plymale said.
If the letter recommends termination, Curtis would probably be terminated the next day, Plymale said.
But Curtis can appeal further.
The next appeal would probably be heard by Carlsen in another face-to-face meeting, Plymale said.
And if that doesn't work, the case would be decided by an outside arbitrator, Plymale said.
Curtis began his involvement with the Children's Theatre after playing Ebenezer Scrooge. He worked part-time at the theater throughout high school until 2000, when he became the program assistant. He has run the box office since 1995, according to the city Web site.
"He really likes working with the public and if he sends someone away with a smile on their face, he feels he has done his job right," the Web site states.