Board publicly responses to union grievance

Shawn Hardy

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board publicly denied a grievance filed by the teachers union with a statement at last week’s meeting. The president of the Greencastle-Antrim Education Association said she was disappointed the board aired its response in a public forum.

The grievance relates to long-term substitutes who lost their classroom positions due to the end of Keystones to Opportunities grant funding for literacy coaches. The literacy coaches, who were teachers prior to the grant positions, are going back to the classroom because there is no money in the budget to continue the program.

The response to the grievance, read by James Winslow, board president, and adopted on a 9-0 board vote, said it was not filed in a timely manner.

“Additionally, the grievants were properly hired as long-term substitutes to temporarily fill the positions of regular professional employees, who in tern, had accepted temporary assignments as literacy coaches on a year to year basis, subject to the continued availability of Keystones to Opportunities (KtO) funding.

“The parties explicitly agreed that, upon the termination of such funding, those filling the literacy coach positions would be returned to regular classroom assignments and that those filling the long-term substitute positions would be ‘returned to the District’s roster for day to day substitutes or long-term substitute, as may be needed from time to time.’”

The response also says, “That the Association would now seek to repudiate and renege on terms and conditions to which is had explicitly agreed is unconscionable and is the ultimate display of ‘bad faith’ in the context of labor relations. In the unlikely event that this grievance is sustained, the Association is advised that the District will file and vigorously pursue a claim for recovery of any and all costs resulting from the breach of the terms of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and the District’s detrimental reliance on the Association’s representation that it would abide by the terms of an agreement it approved and signed.”

After the meeting, Ellen Kirkner, president of the union that represents 180.5 teachers (including a half-time high school biology teacher), said it was unprecedented for the response to be put on the agenda and the union feels it is a private matter.

“It doesn’t make for positive labor relations,” she said.

The grievance process started in March and included a number of meetings, according to Kirkner, who said, “We really wanted to reach a compromise.”

The compromise was rejected and the union filed the grievance in June. Kirkner said she’s been advised by G-AEA’s legal team not to discuss the details.