Unions slam LAUSD for ‘English only’ rule for cafeteria workers

espanolTwo unions that represent teachers and support staff at LA Unified schools are calling on the district to rescind its “English only” rule that was issued earlier this month to cafeteria workers at Harvard Elementary, saying the rule sends the wrong message to students and parents,

An “English only” sign was posted in the cafeteria of the Koreatown school a few weeks ago.

Most cafeteria workers there are native Spanish speakers, and 86 percent of students identify as Hispanic, yet the district called the directive a safety issue.

That explanation is falling flat with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents district teachers, and Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents the cafeteria workers and other district employees like bus drivers and groundskeepers.

“When the majority of cafeteria workers at the school speak Spanish, how is it safer for those workers to communicate only in English in the cafeteria or anywhere on campus?” the unions said in a joint statement. “When a great majority of cafeteria and other service workers live in the communities where they work and are often parents of children attending LAUSD schools, how does an ‘English Only’ policy promote a welcoming school community?”

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Port of LA High faculty seeks to join UTLA after principal resigns

Former Port of Los Angeles High School Principal Tom Scotti. UTLA

Former Port of Los Angeles High School Principal Tom Scotti. (Credit: polahs.net)

After the unexpected resignation of their popular principal left some teachers, students and parents outraged, the faculty at Port of Los Angeles High School has voted to join United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).

Hundreds of people attended the school’s board meeting on Monday and voiced anger over the resignation Tom Scotti, the principal who left Friday to work for another charter program, according to the Daily Breeze.

Scotti had been with the school since 2005, and his departure was seen by some as a response to his displeasure with the school’s top leadership, while others claimed he was forced out, according to the Daily Breeze.

The Daily Breeze also reported there is widespread discontent among students, parents and teachers with the school’s executive director, James Cross, and the move to join UTLA was in response to Scotti’s departure.

Port of Los Angeles High School is an independent charter school with 59 teachers and faculty. In an open letter to the Port of Los Angeles High School community that was presented to the board on Monday and signed by 86 percent of the faculty, teachers explained the move to join UTLA.

“A union will give us a voice and an integral involvement in our school. Our students deserve teachers who are free to express their opinion and who are active participants in the decisions that directly affect our students,” Spanish teacher Mary Marin wrote in the letter, according to a UTLA press release.

A petition was filed on Tuesday with the California State Public Employment Relations Board seeking recognition of UTLA as their union, and faculty will soon begin collective bargaining over wages, hours and conditions of employment, according to UTLA.  

UTLA represents over 900 teachers at independent charter schools in the Los Angeles area and has over 30,000 total members. 

 

UTLA, AFT demand apology for ‘misleading’ Time magazine cover

Time magazineTime magazine is in hot water with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and other teacher unions over what they say is an unfair and misleading cover.

On its Facebook page, UTLA posted a link to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) online petition that calls for Time to “apologize to America’s teachers for the misleading and hyperbolic attack on your November 3 cover.”

The cover in question is for a story about the impact of Vergara v. California, the case in which a judge earlier this year struck down California’s decades-old laws regarding teacher tenure, firings and layoffs.

The Time article, which features a gavel about to smash an apple on the cover, is headlined, “Rotten Apples: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher; some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that,” and is a look at the history of the case and the wealthy group of tech executives who have helped support it. The article has been available online since Friday and is scheduled to hit news stands in print form on Nov. 3.

But it is not the article that the AFT finds fault with. It’s the cover, which the AFT says “is particularly disappointing because the articles inside the magazine present a much more balanced view of the issue. But for millions of Americans, all they’ll see is the cover and a misleading attack on teachers.”

So far, over 60,000 people have signed the petition, according to the AFT’s Facebook page. The AFT has over 1.5 million members.

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LA Unified reiterates: UTLA demands would lead to cutbacks

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsIn the first contract talks under LA Unified’s new superintendent, Ray Cortines, negotiators for the district and the teachers union, UTLA, hit another snag yesterday as the district reasserted claims that unions demands are unsustainable and would lead to severe cutbacks to key programs, resources, and personnel that would detrimentally impact students.

The union is calling for a 10 percent salary bump for 2014-15, with the expectation of re-opening pay negotiations next year. Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract.

“Our budget calculations show that the proposal would cost more than $800 million in 2015-16,” said Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Labor Negotiator. “Combined with a projected $365 million deficit next year, agreeing to the union’s proposal would deal a devastating blow to the District’s educational programs.”

The union’s new wage demand exceeds the district’s standing offer of a 6.64 percent salary increase over the next three years plus a one-time 2 percent bonus.

Another topic UTLA returned to during talks yesterday was the issue of “teacher jail.”

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Commentary: Is the L.A. teachers union tone deaf?

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Steve Lopez

It was back-to-school night in August. A time for new beginnings and high hopes at Thomas Starr King Middle School on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border.

Then came an awkward moment.

With new parents and students in the room, a teachers union rep got up on a soapbox to lay out the labor issues that could lead to a strike.

“He could not have been more tone deaf,” said Tomas O’Grady, a parent who was in the room. “What a stupid thing to do, for a new group of parents excited about this school.”

O’Grady said the speaker is “one of the most amazing teachers at King,” so out of kindness, O’Grady reined him in by suggesting this was not the time or place for a labor rally.

“In an attempt to protect him, I spoke up. Because if it was anyone else, I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t have been to protect him, but to reprimand him.”

Read the full commentary here.

UTLA calls for smaller class sizes at a morning press event

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North Hollywood HS PE teacher Brad Hodge speaks today at a press event about class sizes. (Via UTLA Facebook page)

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl appeared at a press conference today outside North Hollywood High School where he and other speakers focused on the union’s demand for smaller class sizes in its ongoing fight for a new contract.

Caputo-Pearl said that the most fundamental thing the union wants to communicate is “that our students are human beings that deserve personalized attention,” KNX 1070 reported.

The press event came as union and LA Unified officials are set to meet for another contract bargaining session tomorrow, the first since John Deasy resigned as superintendent and was replaced with Ray Cortines on an interim basis.

Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract, which is outlined in UTLA’s Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.

Students and teachers at North Hollywood High spoke at the press conference and talked about the troubles large class sizes are causing. Ninth grader John Huddleston said his physical education class has over 50 students.

“It takes the teacher so long to take attendance that it truly does cut into our class curriculum time,” said Huddleston, according to KNX.

UTLA said in a statement that thousands of students and teachers around the district were wearing stickers today that highlighted their class size and student/teacher ratios, KNBC reported.

When speaking to LA School Report yesterday, Caputo-Pearl was hesitant to characterize the change in superintendents as a positive or negative in terms of the union’s bargaining position.

“We are looking forward to talking to the interim superintendent about some positive direction about this,” Caputo-Pearl said. “I don’t want to speculate, just whoever the superintendent is, interim or permanent, we are going to continue to bring the issues that are affecting students, schools and educators to the table and we look forward to productive negotiations around that.”

Captuo-Pearl did say that he will continue to aggressively pursue a new contract even though Cortines is an interim superintendent.

“The condition that our schools find themselves in in terms of class size, in terms of schools not having nurses and librarians, educators that have not gotten a pay increase for seven years, that absolutely determines for us that we have got to pursue our Schools LA Students Deserve campaign aggressively,” he said.

Listen to the full report KNX report here:

Cortines on returning to LAUSD a third time: ‘They called my bluff’

ray cortines

Incoming school Supt., Ray Cortines

No one was more surprised that Ray Cortines became the latest LA Unified superintendent than Ray Cortines.

“I hadn’t been planning to return, and I didn’t negotiate with the board,” he told LA School Report today. “The only caveat I put out was that it would have to be a unanimous vote, and I didn’t think it would be. I was taken aback: they called my bluff!”

Cortines, 82, a former school district leader in New York, San Francisco, Pasadena and twice before in Los Angeles, was named today as the interim replacement for the resigning John Deasy – the result of a unanimous vote by the board to bring him back. He served as LA Unified superintendent briefly in 2000, then again from 2009 to 2011, when he retired and one of the deputies he hired, Deasy, succeeded him.

What Deasy leaves to his former mentor is a district with improving student academic metrics but also whirlwinds of problems, not least a teachers union, UTLA, that had a balky relationship with the district under Deasy. These days, the difference in their bargaining positions for a raise in teacher salaries amounts to $188 million a year.

“Ray Cortines has more experience, skill and expertise at running a large urban public school district in the nation and maybe the world,” said board member Steve Zimmer, explaining why the seven board members turned to Cortines. “There simply is no one who could immediately step in and stabilize our district while continuing to build a collaborative trust needed for us to keep our momentum moving forward.”

Cortines said he’s ready to jump in, already with plans for two meetings on Monday, his first official day on the job: a session with the district’s labor negotiating team, followed by a meeting with the union’s counterpart.

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BREAKING NEWS: Deasy expected to step down

 John Deasy, the beleaguered superintendent of LA Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, is expected to step down as soon as Thursday, according to five district and school board sources with knowledge of the situation.

After weeks of negotiations between lawyers for Deasy and the seven-member board, he submitted his resignation and signed a separation agreement that brings an end to his employment, well before the 30-day grace period he would have had in a case of dismissal by the board, sources told LA School Report.

The district is expected to make the announcement, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning. It is also expected that one of his chief deputies, Michelle King, will be named the interim superintendent while the board begins a search for a permanent replacement. Deasy, who succeeded Ramon Cortines in 2011, is LA Unified’s fourth superintendent since 2000.

The board several weeks ago had authorized its lawyers to begin negotiating a separation agreement with lawyers for Deasy. The final terms of the agreement were reached in the last day or so, with Deasy in South Korea on an cultural visit, said sources, all of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issues and legal restrictions against discussing a private matter.

Deasy was scheduled to return to Los Angeles by the end of this week. He did not attend the most recent board meeting yesterday, which included closed-door discussions of his employment status.

He was unreachable tonight for comment.

Deasy’s resignation after three years as superintendent brings to an end a volatile but productive period in the district with his tenure marked by dramatic improvement in student academic measures yet traumatic developments in programs undertaken by his administration, all at a time budget restraints have limited the district’s ability to support more personnel and programs.

He has made no secret of his growing frustrations with a board that has often been at odds with his approach to public education, more so since the school board elections of 2013 and last August reduced the number of members who supported his vision.

That vision — the belief that quality public education is a civil right — came to include his championing of a program to deliver an iPad to every district student. More than anything else, problems with the iPad distribution came to symbolize the collision between vision and reality, starting a drumbeat for his dismissal.

Nor was he helped by testy relations with the teachers union, UTLA, which has been a steady critic from the start of his tenure, most recently over his unwillingness or inability to raise teacher salaries to levels they are seeking in negotiations for a new contract.

 

 

Teachers, loss of grants, personnel shifts — and MiSiS — played roles in mess at Jefferson, officials say

Jefferson High School Walk outs LAUSD

Students at Jefferson High School stage a walkout to protest scheduling problems on Aug. 25, 2014. (Credit: Vanessa Romo)

The scheduling mess at Jefferson High School emerged for many more reasons than a troubled new computer system, district officials and school administrators told LA School Report today.

Contributing factors included the loss of several key grants, which created a shortage in teachers, money and available class periods; the teachers’ refusal to make scheduling changes and a reshuffling of Jefferson’s administrators just weeks before school started.

“This is definitely not a MiSiS issue,” Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Intensive Support and Innovation Center for LA Unified, said in an interview. “It’s also a master schedule issue. Scheduling issues caused by MiSiS only exacerbated the situation on this campus.”

District officials, teachers and administrators have been meeting for days to craft an action plan to eliminate further disruption at Jefferson. Their result of their collaboration is scheduled to be presented to the district school board when it meets tomorrow.

Jefferson’s daily schedule is almost unique among LA Unified high schools. It includes two teacher conferences a day rather than the more typical one. When Jefferson teachers were given an opportunity earlier this year to vote to change to a more traditional daily schedule, which district officials said would have alleviated many of the problems that have left students with empty class time, they refused. Continue reading

LAUSD says teacher contract demands unaffordable, union disagrees

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsIn the latest disagreement between contract negotiators for LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, the district says the teachers’ latest salary demand would cost way more than the district can afford while the union president charged that the district could afford it, if the district had the right spending priorities.

The new demand of 10 percent a year for one year came last week, superseding the union’s previous demand of 17.6 percent over two years.

Rob Samples, Assistant Director of Labor Relations for LA Unified, said UTLA’s proposal plus its request for an annual stipend of $1,000 per educator to cover out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies, would run about $250 million a year while the annual stipend would cost the district about $43 million per year.

“All together that adds up to $876 million over three years,” he told LA School Report.

In a statement, district officials said that “when combined with other projected deficits, the total impact is at least $1.35 billion over three years.” The statement did not discuss other contributors to the projected deficit.

In any case, the district said, the union demands would force the district to make numerous cuts in other areas in order to pay for the salary proposals.

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Teachers union accepting nominations for House members

UTLA Rally for 8 percent teacher raise LAUSD teachers

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl (left) and former president Warren Fletcher at a recent UTLA rally

The nominating period for United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) House of Representatives is currently open and will last through Nov. 3.

The House of Representatives is a 350 member body that meets eight times a year to debate policy and vote on motions. Any UTLA member in good standing can nominate themselves by filling out a form and delivering it via mail or in person to UTLA’s headquarters at 3303 Wilshire Blvd. 

The form can be found on page 20 of the UTLA’s September newsletter.

If more nominations are received than available seats, UTLA will hold elections.

UTLA highlights contract demands on ‘Big Red Tuesday’

Big Red Tuesday UTLA

United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl speaks on “Big Red Tuesday” at Thomas Starr King Middle School

To commemorate “Big Red Tuesday,” United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl used a sidewalk press conference at Thomas Starr King Middle School this morning to outline yet again the union’s contract demands from LA Unified.

UTLA encouraged teachers and supporters all around the district to wear red to campuses, and as he spoke, Caputo-Pearl was flanked by several dozen supporters wearing red clothing, including UTLA-issued garb, sweaters, button-down shirts and even an Anaheim Angels T-shirt. (See the embedded video below for highlights form the press conference.)

“All across the city today, our educators from Chatsworth to the harbor, from the beach to east LA, are in red in a show of unity behind the demands of the Schools LA Students Deserve,” Caputo-Pearl said.

Before turning the podium over to other speakers, Caputo-Pearl outlined the key items the union is seeking in a new contract and in its Schools LA Students Deserve campaign, which includes lower class sizes, more support staff like nurses and librarians and a pay increase for teachers. In his recent State of the Union speech, Caputo-Pearl said “Big Red Tuesday” would be the first of union actions meant to put pressure on the district and Superintendent John Deasy as the union looks to project unity during contract negotiations.

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UTLA plans ‘Big Red Tuesday’ and monthly ‘escalating actions’

UTLA big red tuesdayAs part of a plan to increase pressure on LA Unified as it negotiates for a new contract, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is planning monthly “actions” to take place on campuses around the district.

In preparation for the actions, which are to begin in October, UTLA is dubbing Tuesday, Sept. 30 as “Big Red Tuesday,” when union members are all being encouraged to wear red clothing as a sign of unity.

In his recent State of the Union speech, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl outlined the idea behind Big Red Tuesday.

“It seems small, but [LA Unified Superintendent John] Deasy will ask his administrators — you best believe he will — to count the shirts to measure our resolve. And when they see them from the harbor to Chatsworth, and East LA to the beach, it’s going to send a message to our networks of communication and our resolve across the city,” Caputo-Pearl said.

Sept. 30 also happens to be the same day the school board is meeting in a closed-door session to discuss Deasy’s upcoming annual review.

Red is one of the official colors of UTLA and many of its T-shirts are printed in red. The organization has often encouraged members to wear red when taking part in a protest or gathering, as it did in 2010 when members staged a protest outside of the Los Angeles Times.

Caputo-Pearl also told the crowd to “[k]eep your eye out for the first of a series of monthly escalating actions starting in October at school sites.”

Details on what the October action might entail have not been released by UTLA. Earlier this week, the union issued a press release that covered Big Red Tuesday and the October action but gave no more details than the hints Caputo-Pearl dropped in his speech. The release did encourage parents and community members to wear red on Sept. 30 to “show Deasy and LAUSD that we are united in our fight for Schools LA Students Deserve.”

UTLA and LA Unified are meeting periodically over a new contract, but the two sides remain far apart.

 

Teachers union hiring 6 in ‘groundbreaking’ plan to organize

Alex Caputo-Pearl at a news conference teachers union

Alex Caputo-Pearl, President of UTLA

During his first State of the Union speech at the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) leadership conference last week, President Alex Caputo-Pearl promised that the union was “gearing up for this fight” as he works to negotiate a new contract with LA Unified.

Near the end of his remarks, as if to prove he wasn’t just talking tough, he announced that UTLA is hiring six new people in leadership positions as part of an internal restructuring made possible through a cost-sharing agreement with state and national teachers unions.

Caputo-Pearl described the cost-sharing agreement as “groundbreaking.” The organizations participating in the agreement are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and the California Teachers Association (CTA).

“We went to our state and national affiliates…and we said to them that everything is affected by what happens in LA across the state, across the country,” Caputo-Pearl said at the conference. “We asked them because of this, our affiliates invest in UTLA and invest in our strategic vision. To invest to help us organize to win key things for our schools, educators and communities, to shape the national debate and to move forward a conversation about UTLA’s long-term stability.”

Caputo-Pearl said UTLA has already hired four people as part of the new agreement and is looking soon to hire a political director and a strategic researcher. The four recent hires are Jeff Good as Executive Director, Brian McNamara as Field Director, Esperanza Martinez, as a community organizer, and Sharon Delugach, who works directly for AFT as a parent coordinator but will now be dedicating three quarters of her time to working with UTLA, according to Caputo-Pearl.

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2 percent bonus arrives for school principals, plus others

LAUSD principals and teachers get two percent bonusMore than 13,000 LA Unified employees of labor groups that struck new contract deals with the district are receiving a 2 percent lump sum payment this week.

Among those that found the extra bump in their bank accounts are members of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA), which includes school principals, assistant principals, administrators as well as maintenance, operations and food services managers.

According the district, school administrators can expect a check ranging from $1,100 to $2,700 depending on their pay.

“Both AALA bargaining units negotiated the 2 percent bonus and are pleased to have received it,” union president Judy Perez told LA School Report. “While 2 percent is not ideal, we appreciate the fact that we did reach an agreement with the district on compensation for the next three years.”

The California School Employees Association and Teamsters Local Union 572 reached the same salary agreement with the district. All four groups also received a 2 percent raise in August, plus a 4.5 percent increase over the next two years.

In all, LA Unified officials report the cost of the bonuses is $12.4 million.

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Teachers union changes tactics, urges board to ‘evaluate’ Deasy*

UTLA wants to fire deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

*Correction
In an earlier version of this post we mistakenly reported that UTLA is “urging the school board to fire” superintendent John Deasy. This is incorrect. We try our hardest to write with accuracy, but on this one, we missed the mark – and we regret the error. What follows is UTLA’s letter to us (in part) and our corrected post:


 

Our September 15th news release does not state that UTLA is urging the school board to fire John Deasy. …You may speculate on what you think the statement means, but to report that as fact coming from UTLA is simply wrong. … We also did not state we want the school board to downgrade Deasy’s performance to “unsatisfactory.” We stated that the board has the opportunity to evaluate Deasy “ to determine if his work is satisfactory.” As a long-time journalist I believe you realize that both the headline and the story posted by LA School Report on September 16th are misleading.
UTLA requests an immediate retraction so that your readers and the LAUSD school community will be informed of UTLA’s actual position on this issue.
Sincerely ,
Suzanne Spurgeon,  Director of Communications, UTLA


 

The Los Angeles teachers union has given up one of its oldest and loudest refrains, calling on LA Unified chief John Deasy to resign. Instead, UTLA appears to be changing tactics; it is urging the school board to ‘evaluate’ the superintendent.

In a press statement, UTLA says it wants the board “to evaluate the Superintendent to determine if his work is ‘satisfactory’… and hold Deasy accountable” at his annual review to take place behind closed doors on October 21. A less than satisfactory review would effectively spell the end to the superintendent’s contract which – at his own insistence – stipulates he meet performance targets set by the board.

“Deasy must be held accountable for the iPad fiasco and MiSiS crisis……[he] holds teachers accountable for their classroom programs, yet he cries foul when serious questions are raised by his supervisors,” UTLA said in a statement yesterday.

But amidst a fast-moving saga that features a fractured seven-member school board and a superintendent increasingly under fire, the landscape without Deasy may not be a silver bullet for the union.

Not only could firing the superintendent become a campaign issue for the four school board members up for election next March, but it could have an impact on negotiations between the union and the district, currently at the bargaining table over a contract on behalf of 31,000 employees.

“It’s likely to have a disruptive effect on the negotiations,” cautions Chris Tilly, Director of UCLA’s Institute for Research and Labor Employment.

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Reps for LAUSD, teachers union talk about computers, not salaries

UTLA contract talks computersAnother bargaining session came and went today and still no contract agreement between LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA.

The district said in a press release, “union leaders weren’t ready to talk about raises at the table,”  leaving the sides to focus, instead, on issues with the student-tracking system known as MiSiS, for My Integrated Student Integrated System.

The union did not engage in salary talks, according to the district.

“Teachers certainly deserve a bigger paycheck,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. “Finally, after years of severe budget cuts, we can afford to provide some relief that our teachers well deserve. We want to give raises.”

Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian added, “While discussions around MiSiS implementation are very important, it shouldn’t preclude us from spending at least equal time on discussing salary increases.”

The union did not have an immediate response to the district’s characterization of the session.

The District has offered UTLA members an 8.64 percent salary increase over three years, which includes a one-time lump sum for 2013-14. It’s effectively the same deal the district has offered to all its other labor groups — the one-time payment and annual raises of 2 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent.

The union is seeking a 17.6 percent salary increase over two years, an amount the district said in the release it cannot afford “without a return to layoffs, dreaded unpaid furlough days, a shortened school year, reduced summer school and repeated deep cuts in staff and services needed to balance recent budgets.”

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Oct. 2

Caputo-Pearl Q&A: Running LAUSD like a business?

Logo_LATimesVia the Los Angeles Times | By Patt Morrison

It’s a funny world, and a small one. Alex Caputo-Pearl, the new head of United Teachers Los Angeles, went to school in the same Maryland school district where John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was once superintendent.

They missed each other there, but now they’re in the same place, at the same time, on opposite sides of the table and sometimes on the issues. Caputo-Pearl, who was elected with 80% of the vote, was an ardent labor activist at Crenshaw High School, which he says got him ousted from the school after 13 years there. It was Deasy who decided the poorly performing school needed a clean sweep of faculty. Watch for big headlines as contract negotiations unfold.

Read the full story here.

Progress (or lack of it) with teachers comes to LAUSD board

Galatzan and Ratliff

Unlikely Co-sponsors: Galatzan (left), Ratliff (right)

The LA Unified School Board returns tomorrow with a full agenda although a lot of the juicy stuff will be discussed in closed session.

In addition to the usual topics — personnel issues and ongoing litigation — the board will review labor negotiations, which at this point is down to the on-going talks with the teachers union, UTLA.

The union submitted its initial proposal to the board late last week and in it, UTLA called for discussions of various subjects, including salaries, teacher evaluations and discipline at future bargaining sessions. The proposal is the first item of business on the agenda for the board’s open session. However, the board will not publicly discuss the demands contained within the document nor any details of negotiations, such as they are.

Although an update on the student data system, MiSiS, is not officially on agenda it is inconceivable there wouldn’t be a lengthy discussion about it either in closed session or by a public speaker later in the day. Problems with the program have made it next to impossible to get an accurate count on the number of students enrolled in each school and in the right classes, according to school principals and school administrators. That has set schools back in making necessary teacher hiring adjustments.

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Teachers union submits initial contract demands to LA Unified

UTLA contract proposal to DeasyAfter months of bargaining talks with LA Unified, the teachers union, UTLA, today submitted its first contract demand within the course of current negotiations.

In a document submitted to the board this morning, the union called for discussions of various subjects, including salaries, teacher evaluations and discipline at its next bargaining sessions, according to a district staffer who read the two-page letter to LA School Report.

Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian, said in an interview she was “very pleased to have received their initial proposal.” She declined to discuss any of its content.

The letter, sent by UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl to the board, did not elaborate on salary demands, which the district contends it has not formally received. Caputo-Pearl says the union made it clear to the district long ago what it wants.

“UTLA’s salary proposal of 17.6 percent was formally presented to LAUSD under former President Warren Fletcher,” Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report. More recently, the union has clarified that the 17.6 percent salary increase demand is for two years.

The proposal comes on the heels of the district’s new deal with the Lieutenants and Sergeants School Police unit, whose contract was approved last night in a unanimous vote by unit members.

LA Unified has also completed negotiations with six other labor groups, most of which agreed to a similar salary increase package: a raise of 2 percent for 2014-15, 2 percent in 2015-16, and another 2.5 percent in 2016-17. Each annual pay bump is contingent on funds available.

While some groups also received a 2 percent lump sum payment for the 2013-14 school year, others tailored the additional payment to suit different preferences.

The raise UTLA is seeking over the next two years is nearly double what other groups have received over the span of three years. Superintendent John Deasy and other district officials say that could ultimately bankrupt the district.

Further, a “me too” clause included in most of the signed agreements allows a union the opportunity to re-open salary negotiations should the school board approve a higher general percentage increase for another group.

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