Archive for January, 2010

Support the KSD Levies At The Rally Feb 6th!

January 31, 2010

Saturday, February 6, the Kent Education Association is hosting a Rally to Support the Kent School District Levy. It will be held at Mill Creek Middle School, 620 North Central Avenue, in Kent from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Community leaders will speak in support of the levy. Bella Voce Choir of the Rainier Youth Chorus and KEA member and recording artist Darren Motamedy will perform. Members are asked to bring families and friends to this event.

Sign waving outside of the school will run from 11 a.m. until noon. At noon, we will go into the cafeteria for the speakers and the music. Come show your support for passing the Kent School District Levy. The Levy provides 20% of the Kent School District budget.

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What’s Next For KEA?

January 26, 2010
  • KEA is currently working on a Class Size/Case Load Grievance.  Since the new contract was adopted, KEA has repeatedly requested information from the district, only to have inaccurate or inadequate information provided.  KEA’s own investigation discovered that there has not been the promised overload help for SPED and ELL, that there is not the base level of para-educator support, and much more.  In fact, one ELL teacher at Panther Lake currently has 217 students on her roster, while the contract calls for a ratio of 1 ELL teacher for every 90 students.  Rather than lower her class sizes by hiring more teachers, the district instead provided 60 hours of daily para-educator time!  The district has also failed in many schools to provide Special Ed teachers with the base para time required by the new contract, or to determine how those hours can best be used.  KEA believes that the district is not trying to live up the contract in this regard in any reasonable way. 
  • Two additional arbitrations are upcoming.  One is related to last Spring’s layoffs/RIF’s, while the other is related to an issue with a teacher evaluation at Kentlake.  Both are currently at the stage in the process of selecting an arbitrator.   A decision in either is not expected for a few months.
  • Daniel Elementary has the dubious distinction of having 5 grievances filed about the same issue over the past 3 years.  It seems that when Daniel Elementary’s teachers send students to the Principal’s Office for serious behavior issues, the principal often sends the students right back to the teacher.  This goes against teacher rights under Article IV of the contract, district policy, and state law.  KEA had filed 3 previous grievances over this issue in the past.  Two were settled with a written agreement that said the Principal would stop doing this, and a third was otherwise resolved.  Now KEA has filed two additional grievances over new occurrences of the same issue!  It seems that some people never learn.  One wonders what would happen to a teacher who was disciplined five times for the same infraction?

KEA Successfully Defends Member Rights

January 26, 2010

In addition to the big arbitration win, the last several months have seen some other significant wins by KEA and its members, including:

  •  KSD finally agreed to allow Shared Leave for a teacher who had a Caesarean Section.  Human Resources argued that since the procedure was scheduled, rather than an emergency, it didn’t count as a, “serious medical event.”  Through the grievance process, KEA was able to encourage the district to come to their senses.  Henceforth, C-Sections will be included in the list of acceptable uses of Shared Leave.  (Article V in the contract)
  • One teacher discovered last year that her final evaluation included complaint letters from other teachers in the building.  The KEA used the grievance process to have the district remove these letters.
  • Another teacher who taught a “0” period in addition to a full day of classes had not been paid extra for teaching the additional class.  KEA and the teacher filed a grievance that resulted in the district paying the extra pay retroactively.
  • Instructional Coaches in the various buildings had been told that they were required to attend trainings over the summer, and then in the evening through the school year, amounting to 30 hours of class time.  They were also given additional, “homework,” they had to complete.  Yet another grievance led to the district acknowledging that this class and the accompanying homework were optional.

What is KEA doing for you?

January 17, 2010

So, the strike has been over for a few months now, and everyone is back in their rooms.  After hearing so much from KEA before and during the strike, it has been pretty quiet recently.  As a result, you might be asking, “What has KEA been doing for me lately?”  The answer is, more than we can put in this blog entry!   Expect regular updates in the next few weeks.

KEA Wins Another Arbitration, KSD Weeps Gently

In the process of enforcing the contract, KEA has been forced on several occasions to file grievances about various violations of the contract.  Currently, Lisa, Mike, and Temple have about 20 they are working on!  Sometimes, when the initial steps of the grievance process cannot resolve the problem, KEA is forced to request an arbitration hearing to settle an issue.  In this case, a neutral arbitrator is selected to hold a formal hearing and rule on the matter.  KEA had already won two previous arbitrations in 2008 over the issues of seniority and an involuntary transfer, as well as the district’s overreliance on subcontracting through outside private agencies to hire teachers.  Yet another arbitration was decided in December.

At issue in this arbitration was the professional goal setting forms that were being used throughout the district in relation to our formal evaluations as teachers and certificated staff.  Depending on which building you worked at or which administrator was your evaluating supervisor, you may have seen any of several different forms.  These many different forms had been created across the district by various administrators, but were not included in the contract.  Additionally, some administrators in the district went so far as to assign the professional goals of teachers without their input, and tie teachers’ evaluation goals to their students’ test scores or to the buildings SIP plan!  At one elementary, the principal wrote on a Special Ed. Teacher’s goal sheet that 80% of their students would meet standard on the Reading WASL!  Obviously this was in violation of our contract and the spirit of our professional goals, but the district refused to acknowledge this fact.

While the district claimed it had the right to do this as part of their rights as management, KEA argued that the forms violated the contract.  (Article VIII of the contract)  Specifically, the District argued that there was a relationship between student test scores, the SIP plan, and the CAM (Certificated Assessment Model).  KEA’s own Mike McNett, however, argued that the forms went against the whole idea of a teacher setting professional goals based upon their own personal reflection through a collaborative process.  McNett also stated that teacher evaluations should be based on the professional practice of the educator and the extensive evaluative criteria already negotiated into the contract (CAM rubrics), not on student performance.  According to the contract, test scores are used appropriately when they are used by teachers for planning and preparation, not to determine whether a teacher is being effective or not.   We all know that teaching is about more than test scores…

The end result:  KEA won!  The arbitrator noted in his decision in favor or KEA that the Kent School District cannot continue, “unilaterally adopting goals and criteria,” that it wants without bargaining.  Instead, the arbitrator said the evaluation process must be conducted in a way that allows for, “uniformity, equity, and objective assessment throughout the District.”  So when the district invented different forms in each building that were not in the original contract, it went against the contract’s provisions for equal assessment criteria throughout the district.  The ruling went on to say that some teachers were, “inappropriately guided in the selection of their goals,” by their supervising administrators.  KEA was pleased with the result, to say the least.   Once again it was shown that the district’s administration continues to erroneously claim power over KEA members that is not a part of our contract. 

So now that the decision is in, what’s next? The arbitrator ordered KSD to immediately stop using any forms not currently in the contract, and told both parties to go back to the bargaining table to settle the issue of which forms would be used in future goal setting conferences.  Since that time, both sides met in a bargaining session that Lisa and Mike described as, “surprisingly pleasant.”  The proposed changes that KEA brought to the table were largely accepted, with only a few suggestions by the District for minor changes.   KEA will let you know how this might affect you as more info is available.  Talk to your Building Rep if you have questions.

It still seems amazing to many of us that the district truly believed that it could dictate our goals to us, and base them on student scores rather than on the criteria in the contract.  Once again, the district continues to downplay the professionalism of its employees.  KEA maintains that when any KEA member sits down with their supervisor, it should be in a spirit of collaboration, rather than an exercise in dictatorial top-down management in violation of the terms of our contract.  Let’s hope that this arbitration decision will help the district see that it is better to work with KEA’s members than against them!

Chris Davies Resigns From KSD School Board

January 14, 2010

In a shocking and unexpected move at tonight’s School Board meeting, Chris Davies announced that he will be resigning from the KSD School Board, effective February 11th, 2010. Davies cited family and business commitments that had made fullfilling his obligations on the School Board impossible.  The Board voted to accept his resignation.  You can read his resignation letter here:

Chris Davies Resignation

You can read KEA’s Board Watch notes from the School Board Meeting by clicking here:  

Notes 13 Jan 2010 School Board

In addition to the resignation by Mr. Davies, discussion of current class size issues, security/safety report, and other important issues were discussed related to the Levy Campaign. 

You can read the text of KEA Vice President Connie Compton’s comments to the School Board regarding class size issues in ELL and Special Ed classes here:

Comments School Board 1.13.10

Please feel free to post comments to this blog entry after reading this week’s Board Watch notes.  REMINDER:  Personal attacks will not be posted.  Please keep it civil!

KEA Strike Leadership Meets To Reflect

January 3, 2010

About 30 KEA members  met at the WEA Offices on Nov 21 to debrief on the strike and plot the future for KEA and its members.  Strike picket captains and organizers, along with KEA’s elected leaders and WEA staff discussed the positive and negative experiences related to the strike.   Among the issues of concern raised at the meeting were the division in some buildings between members who chose to cross the picket line and those who did not, how to communicate better with the membership, how to avoid losing focus or momentum, and many other topics.  KEA’s leadership plans on moving forward with several ongoing grievances and arbitration hearings in the works, while the Bargaining Support and Organization Team will work on several goals, including improving communications with members, providing useful services to members, improving KEA’s profile in the community, and continuing to monitor the KSD School Board.

The Bargaining Support and Organization Team meets on the first Tuesday of each month from 4-6 pm at the KEA offices.  We encourage all members who want to make a difference in improving education in Kent to attend.