Teachers Union Files Two More Unfair Labor Practice Charges*
Hillel Aron | September 5, 2013
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The teachers union has filed two unfair labor practice charges with the Public Employment Relations Board (or PERB) against the Los Angeles Unified School District over 12 teachers who have been removed from two different schools – one at City of Angels and 11 at Crenshaw High. UTLA president Warren Fletcher said at a press conference today that the teachers were reassigned because of their advocacy work on behalf of the union.
“Teachers were exiled from their school for their advocacy,” Fletcher said. “We cannot stand idly by. We need to make sure that advocacy is celebrated, not punished.
Jeff Pott, a teacher and UTLA’s chapter chair at City of Angels Independent Study School in Downtown LA, an alternative school for at-risk youth, claims he was targeted by the newly appointed principal of the school in 2012.
“I was removed specifically for my union activity,” he said.
Pott made a number of claims about the principal, including that he targeted gay teachers and “compelled two of them to leave,” and that he tried to force one teacher to accuse another of sexual abuse. Pott filed several greivances with the principal on behalf of his fellow teachers.
“I was compelled to be in conflict with this principal,” said Pott, who was displaced from the school after 12 years and reassigned to a substitute teacher position.
Superintendent John Deasy said the district doesn’t comment on personnel decisions, which are subject to school board review but only in closed-door sessions. When asked if the district removes teachers because of union activity, he replied, “Absolutely not.”
The other PERB charge involves 12 teachers at the beleaguered Crenshaw High, which was reconstituted into three magnet schools by the district because of its low test scores and graduation rates.
“Crenshaw had serious problems for years,” said Deasy.
Teachers were invited to reapply for their jobs; 33 of them were rejected, while 29 were invited back, although some of those chose not to. Among the 33 were 12 teachers who claim they were singled out for their activities within the union.
“This was a union bust,” said Meredith Smith, one of the displaced teachers. “It was an attempt to bring in younger teachers that they can control and bully. This is by design.”
Deasy said that the school district didn’t weigh in on re-hiring decisions at Crenshaw and that they were made by the principals and a board that included parents, students and teachers.
One of the 12 displaced teachers was Alex Caputo-Pearl, who taught history at Crenshaw for 13 years, and is now running against Fletcher for the UTLA presidency. One issue Caputo-Pearl has raised in his candidacy is what he sees as Fletcher’s failure to fight the reconstitution of Crenshaw High.
UTLA filed an unfair labor practice charge against LAUSD in June over the district’s new teacher evaluation system.
*An earlier version of this story misstated the number of teachers removed because of an erroneous remark at the press conference. It is 12, not 13.
Previous posts: UTLA Files Action Against District Over Teacher Evaluations*; Three-in-One Approach Gives Crenshaw a New Look for Success; UTLA Factions Lining Up to Oust Fletcher as President; Crenshaw Teacher Activist Packs Up His Boxes; Crenshaw Reconstituted