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The quick cut – Bargaining 4/15/2020
The Emergency COVID-19 sick bank has been activated!
The sick bank could be an incredible benefit for colleagues moving
forward beyond the COVID-19 crisis
🔺 Very few employees know about the Emergency COVID-19 sick bank,
how to find it or how to utilize it . For more information about the new sick leave bank, go to the District intranet My Jeffco/ Covid19 Employee News/Employee HR FAQ and scroll down to the section
on the sick leave bank.
It’s clear: The logistics of the sick bank need a lot of work
Teacher rights DEFINE student’s learning conditions – We need clear, equitable contract language to ensure fair treatment, improve our safety in our schools and make sure we have access to a grievance procedure which isn’t one sided.
The full language of JCEA’s Article 9 proposal on Teacher Rights and Student Discipline went out to personal emails yesterday – please take some time with it before next week’s session.
🔺 The district gave a lot of examples as to why they need flexibility (read as: decision making power and control) around discipline related to both educators and students… stay tuned next week for their response.
🔺 “Innovation” Language has the potential to be incredibly anti-union and strip educators of all of their current rights. Educators would be asked to waive their rights to the entire collective bargaining agreement in order to secure a position at an “Innovation” School.
🔺 The district doesn’t seem understand why we would be concerned about this “Innovation” language or teachers being asked to waive their rights.
🔺 “Innovation” language in DPS has led to further degradation of neighborhood schools and has been used to erode the power of DCTA (Denver Classroom Teachers Association)
Want to take a deeper dive?
Sick Bank –
Last year during negotiations, JCEA secured a reallocation of sick days, so that instead of earning one day per school month, beginning in the 2020-21 school year, teachers will be allocated 4.5 sick days in August and 4.5 sick days in January.
We had a pilot program at one school this year and now we have the COVID-19 emergency sick bank. Next year we will have an ongoing sick leave bank program to supplement current sick leave provisions and the short term disability program. Teachers would donate a day to join and sick bank days would accumulate year-over-year if they are not exhausted.
Teacher Discipline –
JCEA ARs and staff have seen a concerning rise in the misapplication of JPS board policy by administrators and Employee Relations, in regards to teacher discipline
Discipline is being applied inconsistently and unfairly across the district and it is our goal to create clear, concise and legally protected language.
Teachers are too often being disciplined re-actively by their supervisors, instead of in accordance with board policy.
We believe it is in the interest of students, teachers, and the district that there is contract language that protects teachers by ensuring consistent application of teacher discipline policy across the district.
Our language includes enhanced teacher training, clarity on student discipline policies, restorative practices between staff and administration, and fact-finding before teachers are suspended without pay.
Why does our grievance procedure matter?
Right now, our grievance process ends at the desk of the JPS Chief Legal Counsel, and you would not be surprised by which side he consistently takes… our entire contract is at risk of being eroded without restoring a fair and unbiased process.
Imagine going to court with the judge, attorneys and jury all on the same payroll.
Do you think you would get a fair trial?
Student discipline –
The JPS team had the opportunity over the past week to read our proposal regarding student discipline, which is oriented around fair, equitable, and consistent procedures for student discipline, being disciplined by administrators for appropriate actions, setting rules and boundaries, and making sure schools are calm and well-run.
The questions the district asked our team raised some concerns over mixed messaging. At certain points, they suggested that they were interested in clear, overarching, district wide policies in alignment with the discipline matrix. At other points, they also implied that they would like to maintain discretion at the building level to make choices based upon their own subjective judgement.
It seems like the district wants to “have their cake, and eat it too”. Would it be fair that a student who commits an infraction at one school might receive an in-school suspension, while a student at another school commits the same infraction could face expulsion proceedings?
Language for Innovation –
Here’s the reality. We are legally obligated to put innovation language into the contract because the district has already allowed a charter school (Free Horizon Montessori) to become an option school with “innovation” status.
Essentially, they wedged an “innovation” school into Jeffco, without first setting policy and procedures. So now the district is all “Uh oh – we might be out of compliance with the law!” And our union is all, “Cool, but did you remember that we gave the district language around innovation to put in the contract last September? Did that ever get done?”
No. It did not.
So now the district is providing their new language around “innovation” schools, which is basically a very brief cut and paste from Colorado law. The problem is, the legal statutes surrounding these schools are very vague, and we believe the contract language must be more detailed to protect our educators, students, and public schools.
You may ask, “why would a school be interested becoming an “innovation” instead of a charter?” Well, as stated by the district last week, one of the major reasons is so that these schools can have more access to district resources, specifically school buildings. All you need to do is look east and see what the “reform” movement has done in Denver. Co-location, closure of neighborhood schools, and privatization are all symptoms of this movement that “innovation” schools spawned from.
Innovation schools claim that they should have the ability to waive all or parts of the contract so that teachers can do their job better. Are they are implying that our hard-fought contract prevents us from doing our jobs well? What?
So, this is the reason we are fighting so hard to place more details into the contract language – because teachers are waiving their rights without even knowing what they are getting into! We believe that the association should be able to provide teachers information about their contract and their rights so they can make an informed vote to become, or not become, an “innovation school”.
Another thing to consider about “innovation” schools is this – what other reasons caused innovation schools to come into existence? Well, if we look again to our neighbor in DPS, another major reason are school shutdowns. If schools face shutdown, they have the option of closing, turning into a charter, or turning into an innovation. Yet, innovation schools often waive the part of the contract that requires teacher and administration to be licensed professionals.
So, tell me if I fell into the Twilight Zone somewhere, but does it make sense that staffing a school with under qualified employees would be a good solution for a school that needs to turnaround?
To watch the entire session from this week you can find the video in full HERE.