BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Teachers Union has filed a grievance against Baltimore City Public Schools, they announced Wednesday.
The grievance is in response to the school system’s requirement that teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs) work an extra four unpaid days beyond what their negotiated contract allows, the union alleges.
According to the union, teachers and PSRPs were forced to work 194 days this year, the final four were uncompensated. They are seeking four days of back pay for the extra days worked beyond their contract.
“During the hectic first week of school closure, BTU and the school district were in regular communication. Teachers and PSRPs were doing so much work to establish distance schooling that BTU had to explicitly request that district leadership reiterate to school principals that Spring Break (March 20-27) needed to be duty-free,” the union states, “When this message was not adequately communicated, President Brown took the rare step of drafting a letter directly to Baltimore’s principals, which ultimately spurred district leadership to make a clearer statement to school leaders ensuring that Spring Break was to be a work-free time.
The union said it has made repeated public comments at school board meetings, and the district, according to the union, said that while they appreciated the educators hard work, they felt it “did not meet contractual obligations,”
The district instead suggested that days from this year be moved to the beginning of the following year, a move that Baltimore teachers and PSRPs “overwhelmingly disapproved,”
The union says it then offered proposals to craft paid, asynchronous professional development options to happen in August, but the district had rejected these proposals when the CEO sent a letter to all staff indicating the last day of the year would be June 23, according to the union.
“Teachers and PSRPs have gone above and beyond in the midst of a pandemic and have served students and families in a time of fear and uncertainty,” said BTU President Diamonté Brown. “Our educators do excellent work every day in the most challenging circumstances in the state, and are at the heart of everything that’s going right in the district. For their work and their voices to be disrespected during a pandemic is a shocking repudiation of their service.”
Baltimore City Public Schools released a statement in response to the grievance on Wednesday:
“City Schools is disappointed to learn of the grievance filed by the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU). City Schools implemented a work calendar for teachers, related service providers, paraeducators, and school-related personnel that included exactly 190 work days in accordance with our collective bargaining agreements.
Our goal was to offer professional development opportunities that would allow City Schools’ teachers, paraprofessionals, and school-related personnel to receive valuable training to support students. In fact, teacher participation at the professional learning sessions was high, and feedback from teachers was very positive.
We engaged in good faith negotiations with BTU on these professional development days but were unable to reach an agreement that we believed would best serve our students. Given that and the considerable challenges faced this spring by staff delivering education in a virtual environment, the use of those days for professional development at the end of this school year was the best option as we plan for our education recovery efforts in the fall.
We respect the hard work of BTU members and understand the sacrifice they – and all City Schools employees – made this spring and through the end of the school year.”