District Urges Board to Dismiss Union’s Unfair Practice Charge
Hillel Aron | August 23, 2013
LA Unified is urging the Public Employment Relations Board to dismiss the teacher’s union’s unfair labor practice charge, filed in June. The nine-page district response, dated August 15 and posted today by the LA Daily News, outlines a series of reasons that the district says shows that the charges are without merit.
The issue at hand is over the new teacher evaluations, which are being implemented for the first time and use a far more numerous and nuanced set of metrics than in years past, including, crucially, student test scores.
The LA teachers union has been vehemently opposed to the use of such scores in years past, but reluctantly agreed to them last year after a judge ordered that new evaluations be created based, in part, on student achievement.
For a brief moment, it looked as if an historic compromise was reached. But it soon fell apart, and now the dispute appears to be headed to court, albeit the quasi-judicical body known as PERB.
The union’s complaint is three-fold: that the district is seeking to change teacher evaluations from a two-level rating (“Meets Standards” and “Below Standard Performance”) to a four-level rating; that the district is seeking to create a new “lead teacher” position with higher pay; and that the district is implementing a new evaluation system, along with new training requirements, that the union hasn’t agreed to.
In its response, the district contends that the four levels are simply to provide the teacher feedback throughout the year and are not meant for the “overall,” year-end evaluation, which could eventually lead to a teacher’s dismissal if the evaluation is “Below Standard” multiple years in a row. The district response also says that any change would be subject to negotiations with the union.
The district also claims that the LAUSD-UTLA agreement gives it the right to add a “salary differential” (i.e., more pay) if the teacher is given “extra assignments and extra duties.”
Curiously, no mention is made of test scores, which are supposed to count for 30 percent of the new evaluations and would seem to be the epicenter of UTLA’s concerns.
It’s never been entirely clear why the accord reached between UTLA President Warren Fletcher and LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy fell apart so quickly. Fletcher recently told the Daily News that “The ink was barely dry, and the district said it was making a bunch of changes.”