Below is an email I sent to the Board of Trustees today. Due to the seriousness of the concerns outlined below, I felt it was important to also share with the members of the Evergreen Teachers Association. ETA Leadership has a responsibility to keep members informed especially around the areas of member well being and safety for all students and staff.
Dear Board of Trustees,
As you have now received letters from our CTA staff support person Michael Hickey on behalf of the Evergreen Teachers Association, I’m compelled to share with you how untenable the situation is in Evergreen.
I reached out to Mr. Torrico July 22nd, reminding him of the responsibility the district had in bargaining the reopening of our schools to full in-person status, and here we are on the fourth day of school still without a safety or independent study MOU. This is unacceptable. As I stated to all of you at the last school board meeting and many times before, ETA leadership still does not receive timely communication from district administration, and there has been no improvement in collaboration. It has now reached a breaking point.
Below are items shared with you in Mr. Hickey’s letters to you and to the Superintendent.
- Repeated failure of the administration to provide the association with accurate data in a frequency required under AB119;
- Delayed, insufficient or no communication/response in attempts to acquire information required under AB119 and to bargain an MOU around AB119;
- Delayed, insufficient or no communication/response to request to bargain Safety and IS MOU before start of ‘21-‘22 school year;
- District bargaining team arriving at bargaining sessions unprepared and needing to caucus for a significant portion of 2-hour scheduled bargaining session; and,
- District bargaining team repeatedly arriving with no written counter proposal nor pertinent district information to facilitate a negotiation;
- No updated safety plan in place (although one is required by the CDPH);
- No testing and contact tracing procedures and processes in place, as of 8/18/21, and the district team has confirmed they are unaware of when one will be completed;
- 7 Special Education classrooms started the first day of school without assigned teachers. Support staff (SLPs and Psychologists) were assigned to provide supervision for the students with less than 24 hour notice; and,
- Ventilations systems may not meet legal specifications to ensure safe air for students and staff. No plan has been implemented to address this, aside from the purchase of bipolar ionization devices, which studies have shown may do more harm than good.
I want to remind this board of other problematic decisions and behavior of the district administration that ETA Leadership has brought to your attention, including but not limited to:
- The Human Resource department not following the CBA or Ed Code by keeping dozens of certificated staff in temporary status, in some cases for years;
- Over 40 certificated staff unnecessarily receiving layoff notices, only to have every single one rescinded a month later; and,
- Not honoring an agreement between the Assistant Superintendent and non re-elects that would allow them to resign in lieu of non re-election.
Adding to this already extensive list, ETA Leadership was just informed on Friday, August 20th that the district administration is unable to implement the contractually guaranteed unassigned preparation time for grades 4, 5, and 6 teachers which should be starting this week. To be clear, the district administration unilaterally eliminated the Art Prep program last August, citing built in prep time in the distance learning schedule. They were fully aware that once distance learning was no longer in effect, this prep time would need to be reinstated. The administration had a year to figure out how to address prep. They had a year to collaborate with certificated staff on this. It is yet another example of this administration’s inability to both communicate with us in a timely fashion and work together with us to address these kinds of issues. Since not providing the contractual prep for 4-6 grade teachers is a violation of our contract, we are preparing to take appropriate action.
We acknowledge that recently the district has had challenges in district administrative personnel. But when you look at the totality of all of these issues, the pattern of ongoing poor behavior and lack of timely, meaningful communication of this administration, the recent personnel challenges are not to blame.
Ensuring the safety and health of the students and staff of Evergreen Elementary School District should be the first priority of the board and district administration. While the district administration has failed to follow the law by providing accurate and complete certificated employee information to the association as is required by AB119,and while the district administration was violating education code by maintaining certificated staff in temporary status when they should have been probationary, these transgressions, while frustrating, don’t put the health and safety of students and staff at risk. Now that we are returning to in-person instruction during a pandemic, we expect the district administration to fulfill their responsibility to ensure our health and safety and that of our students. It is unacceptable that the district administration did not adequately prepare for the return to in-person instruction by following the contractual obligation to provide preparation time for 4-6th grade teachers. Again, the totality of all of these issues creates an uneasiness and lack of confidence in the district’s ability to keep all students and staff safe.
Due to the seriousness of the concerns outlined below, this letter will also be shared with the members of the Evergreen Teachers Association. It will be posted on the ETA website. ETA Leadership has a responsibility to keep members informed especially around the areas of member well being and safety for all students and staff.
ETA Leadership is calling on this board to do the job they were elected to do. We are requesting immediate action to address all the current concerns shared here and by our CTA support staff, Mr. Hickey. As was stated in the correspondence from Mr. Hickey on Friday, absent your intervention, we will be forced to invoke all legal and statutory rights available to us.
Evergreen Teachers Association