MA - Teacher Assignment Notices Tardy; Glitches with New Personnel Software : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Assignment Notices Too Tardy Say Teachers

Union Grievance Filed About Delay

By Anand Vaishnav, Globe Staff, 6/16/2000


It was by accident that teacher Karen Spiegel discovered she had to attend a session yesterday to seek a different position in the Boston public schools.

Under the Boston Teachers Union contract, the seven-year computer specialist was supposed to have received a written notice of the two-day session, which ends today.

But Spiegel received no notice - because of technical glitches - and showed up only because a principal she knew alerted her.

''It makes it a little bit more nerve-racking,'' Spiegel, 35, said. ''We're giving grades, we're doing yearbook projects, we're giving out awards. It's a pretty hectic time of year. And then this.''

The delay in notifying Spiegel and dozens of other teachers about the teacher-assignment session - which is for about 150 teachers whose jobs no longer exist or who are returning from leave - prompted the teachers union to file a grievance against Boston Public Schools. An arbitrator will hear it in July.

The union also says the timing of the session this month violates the contract, which requires it to take place in April. Union officials say they may seek to have the entire session - known as the ''excess pool'' - repeated if teachers say they are unhappy with the process.

''It's total disrespect of their rights as human beings and as a member of a profession,'' said Richard Stutman, a field representative with the union.

The grievance comes at the start of what will probably be a tense summer of negotiations over a new three-year contract. The school department is seeking to change the way teachers are hired, including making all jobs open to any applicant, regardless of seniority.

The current system robs principals of the right to choose their staff, said Michael Contompasis, the district's chief operating officer.

''Our concern is not the timeliness of any of this,'' he said. ''It's why do we have to do this, and why force principals to take someone who isn't appropriate for their school community?''

But union officials say the hiring process would work if the administration fulfilled its obligations in the teacher contract to notify teachers of yesterday's sessions. The deadline was eventually pushed to June 7, and then June 12.

Of about 40 teachers surveyed yesterday by the union, about half got notices later than June 12, and seven didn't get any notice.

The delays stemmed from technical glitches with new personnel software, said Ray F. Shurtleff, the school district's new director of human resources.

''It clearly was not intentional. It's an issue that management is clearly aware of,'' he said.

-- (, June 16, 2000

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