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Archive for Saturday, May 29, 2004

Ruling sides with district on teacher workloads

Hearing officer dismisses grievance filed by Lawrence Education Assn.

May 29, 2004

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The Lawrence school district did not violate state labor laws when it changed the workload of some high school English teachers, the state Department of Human Resources has ruled.

Douglas A. Hager, presiding officer with the Office of Labor Relations, determined the Lawrence Education Assn., which filed a grievance in November 2002, had adequate notice about the proposed change. The LEA, the bargaining unit representing Lawrence's teachers, claimed the shift should have been included in negotiations.

"It is the presiding officer's conclusion that (LEA) had adequate and timely notice of the proposed staffing change in question ... and that such notice gave rise to an obligation that (LEA) request bargaining about the issue if it objected," Hager wrote in a ruling dated May 14.

Because LEA members didn't object, he concluded, they waived their right to have the staffing change included in negotiations.

"We're pleased with the presiding officer's ruling," Supt. Randy Weseman said. "It says to me that the policies and procedures we have in place in the school district are working."

Sam Rabiola, LEA president, said the union was disappointed but did not plan to pursue the issue further.

"In the interest of moving forward in working with the school district's administration, we are not going to appeal the decision," he said.

The grievance centered on a policy in place since 1970 that gave high school English teachers more time for planning than other teachers to allow them more time in grading written work.

For most of that time, English teachers taught four of six class periods, with the other two used for planning. In 1995, the agreement was modified, without apparent objection from the LEA, to have teachers in class four periods during one semester and five during the other.

The arrangement had never been included in teacher contracts.

During budget planning for the 2002-2003 school year, the school board opted to require all teachers to be in the classroom five periods a day. The district said the move saved $97,000.

Hager wrote that LEA representatives were included in the budget discussions and didn't object to the change publicly.

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