Two grievance victories in District 32

by Dorothy Callaci Jan 18, 2007 1:36 PM The solidarity of teachers in Brooklyn’s District 32 has paid off once again as they celebrate two more grievance victories.

After 19 schools in District 32 used the professional conciliation process in Article 24 of the contract to gain flexibility in using the workshop model, teachers from schools in the same district called the Department of Education to account for violating the group-size limits for the 37.5-minute extended time sessions and for absconding with their prep-time — time they needed to prepare for their classes.

“The contract is a powerful tool if used effectively, but it doesn’t walk and talk by itself,” said UFT?President Randi Weingarten. “These teachers were vindicated because they pulled together and stood up for their rights.”

In one case, an arbitrator in June awarded $31.91 (based on the coverage rate) to teachers at PS 86, PS 106, PS 116, PS 145, PS 377 and IS 383 for each student assigned to them each day beyond the contractual group-size limits set for the extended-time tutorials that were instituted in early 2006.

The teacher-student ratio is supposed to be no more that 1 to 10 in regular classrooms and no more than 1 to 5 for kids in special education classes.

The breach of contract was so egregious at IS 383 in Bushwick that two teachers there won more than $1,000 each.

“We brought this group grievance to enforce the contract and to keep principals from repeatedly and flagrantly disregarding contractual obligations,” said District 32 Representative Kathy Sharko.

Sharko credited the 27 teachers in the district who participated in the precedent-setting grievance for doing “the hard and cumbersome paperwork” — sometimes totaling as much as 63 pages. Each teacher was required to keep track of the names of students and dates of each infraction to present as evidence at the arbitration hearing.

In another case — described by Sharko as a citywide problem — five District 32 schools grieved persistent infringement of their prep periods and won.

Administrators at PS 45, PS 75, PS 106, PS 299 and PS 377 agreed not to schedule staff development, standardized testing such as ECLAS and non-mandated grade conferences during teachers’ prep periods.

According to the collective-bargaining agreement (Article 7C4b4 and 7c4c2), “preparation periods shall be used for unassigned professional work.”

“We’ve had no problems since this resolution was implemented in September,” Sharko reported. “I hope it sets an example for other principals.”

For all of District 32’s grievance victories, Sharko credited the “cohesiveness and commitment to professional independence” of the district’s teachers. 1