9 grievances filed by Line Mtn. teachers since January
MANDATA - Nine grievances were filed by Line Mountain School District teachers relating to contractual issues since January, but neither the district nor the teachers union will provide any specifics.
Eight grievances filed were rejected by the board because it was the majority opinion that they were unfounded, said school board President Troy Laudenslager.
The president would only provide context to the grievances, and he declined to say anything further.
In Laudenslager's 10 years as a school director, he said he does not remember any other grievances being brought to the board.
This year's grievances are "trending high," said Pennsylvania State Education Association's Mark McDade, who is representing Line Mountain teachers. Line Mountain Education Association President Mark Shearer directed all questions to McDade.
Wit tension high between the two parties, teachers have been working on an expired contract since June 2012, which was a one-year extension of a
five-year contract that ended June 30, 2011, which guaranteed educators a 3-percent raise each year.
Right to Know
A Right to Know request was filed by The News-Item Jan. 29 for copies of the first five grievances, but the request was denied Feb. 3 by Superintendent Dave Campbell, the district's Right to Know officer, on the basis of the exceptions of Section 708(b)(7) of the state Right To Know Law.
According to that section, grievance material, including documents related to discrimination or sexual harassment, are exempt.
An inquiry to McDade to obtain copies of those grievances was also denied.
"Grievances are personnel matters between the employer and the affected employee(s)," McDade said by email. "As such, it is inappropriate for the district and/or the association to disclose this information outside of employer/employee agency representatives."
He said it is unfortunate the district chooses to "flagrantly violate" the parties' collective bargaining agreement rather than uphold the contract.
"The teachers faithfully abide by the contract every day. We expect the school board to do the same. The contract was bargained and agreed upon by the school board and the teachers, yet the school board voluntarily chooses to break the contract on multiple occasions. We are dismayed that the Line Mountain School Board treats our teachers with such disregard."
If a teacher feels like the school district has wronged them in a contractual sense, a grievance can be filed. It will first go to the principals, then to the superintendent and finally the school board if one of those levels denies their claim and the teacher wants to take it higher, Laudenslager said.
If the school board denies the claim, it can be sent to an arbitrator, but none of the grievances have been taken that far yet, he said.
To the rule
The teachers at Line Mountain have been working to the rule since Sept. 30 to draw attention to the stalled contract negotiations. They will not volunteer their time for duties not described in their contract and will only work during the contracted 7 1/2 hours.
Both the district and the teachers have been accusing the other of misleading the public and bargaining in bad faith. The school district also has released several documents about their latest offer and the salary schedule of their teachers.
The school board is set to act on the ninth grievance at Tuesday night's school board meeting.