UTLA Claims LAUSD Unfairly Added Four Teaching Days and Three Development Days to School Year

The teachers union has filed an unfair practice charge against the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging its decision to add four instructional days and three professional development days to the 2022-23 school year, while optional for both students and teachers, should have been negotiated.

United Teachers Los Angeles wrote in its filing with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) that because additional days affect educators’ work volume and schedules, LAUSD violated the Educational Employment Relations Act by unilaterally altering the school calendar.

The school board added the optional days to the 2022-23 school year in April to help students who are still catching up after the coronavirus pandemic. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the extra days would be optional this coming year, but he hoped to negotiate with employee groups to make the extra days part of the regular school calendar in the future.

The district said on Tuesday, Aug. 9, that it has met with the union and continues to do so. “UTLA has recently filed an Unfair Practice Charge regarding purely optional days which afford teachers the opportunity to work with small groups of students who may need additional instruction,” the district said in a statement.

“Additional pay will be offered to teachers choosing to participate,” it stated. “The District looks forward to further discussions with UTLA on this and other topics as we work together for the school communities we serve.”

The filing by UTLA claims that “while a school district may unilaterally adopt a tentative calendar if it has bargained in good faith over the calendar before and after unilaterally adopting it and shows a willingness to agree to alterations in the tentative calendar after adopting it, LAUSD has not exhibited good faith at any stage of the process.”

UTLA questioned whether the “accelerated” instructional days – scheduled for four Wednesdays throughout the school year – is the most effective way to address pandemic recovery. Families who don’t want their children to attend optional instructional days can drop them off at day care that the district will provide during regular school hours.

LAUSD plans to use $122 million in COVID-19 governmental relief aidfor the extra instructional and professional development days. But the union argues that money could be better spent to reduce class sizes, hire additional counselors, psychiatric social workers and school psychologists, and invest in teacher development.

“Educators are the ones in the classroom day to day, not Superintendent Carvalho, yet they are being left out of conversations on how to most effectively invest in student learning,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said in a statement. “Instead, the district has chosen to make hasty decisions that will have more negative consequences for both educators and students.”

UTLA says it asked for information about the changes to the calendar and requested that the district bargain with them over the issue. It alleges that LAUSD delayed the negotiations and did not schedule bargaining sessions over the summer break.

The two sides aren’t scheduled to meet until Aug. 25. Meanwhile, the three optional professional development days are scheduled for this week.

“The District has not articulated any exigent circumstances that might justify its delay in negotiations or sudden imposition of days at the front end of the school year that shortened the window for negotiations,” UTLA wrote in its filing with PERB.

The union has requested that PERB order the district to remove the extra days from the school calendar, and to acknowledge in writing, to be circulated throughout the district, that L.A. Unified has a responsibility to bargain in good faith.

UTLA represents about 34,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other certificated employees. The additional work days potentially impacts about 30,000 of its members, according to the union.

Beyond the issue with the school year calendar, UTLA is in the midst of negotiations over a new contract.

On Monday, the superintendent said during his Opening of Schools address and at a news conference later that the district must fairly compensate its employees and help them keep up with the area’s cost of living.

“We are determined, now that the summer’s coming to an end, to go to the bargaining table in a fair, just and expedited way,” Carvalho said during the press conference.

In 2019, protracted contract negotiations between the district and teachers union resulted in a strike that lasted six school days.

Though he did not mention the strike, Carvalhowho joined the district six months ago, acknowledged that past negotiations have lasted up to two years and said it’s the district’s intent to settle contracts much more quickly moving forward.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Daily News

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