The Manteca Educators Association — in their bid to pressure the Manteca Unified School District board to rback off requiring teachers to report to classrooms to remotely instruct students — are vowing to “pound them with paperwork” through a series of boilerplate grievances.
Among the boilerplate grievances sent en masse to MEA members for their use included:
*Demanding a 33 percent salary compensation for high school teachers now teaching three blocks that are 20 minutes shorter each so that time can be devoted to remotely assisting struggling teachers.
*Each teacher only being provided four face masks instead of 186 so they can use a new one for each day they are required to report to work.
*Special education teachers having to sanitize eight different items after a student is brought into a classroom on an individual basis for in-person testing.
*Forty female staff members at New Haven School having to share one bathroom that has four toilet stalls each separated by a metal partition that they view as an unsafe condition as well as having to “walk down a narrow hallway” with six offices that they must pass they people come in and out of making it “impossible to be socially distanced.”
In an email sent to nearly 1,200 teachers, MEA President Ken Johnson indicates if the school board “want(s) to ruin Manteca Unified’s great reputation, that’s on them! The reason we have a great reputation is because of you!”
Johnson in encouraging members to file grievances stated “this is crucial to pound them with paperwork” and told members to “go get ‘em!”
Manteca Unified Community Outreach Coordinator Victoria Brunn verified the district has received some of the boilerplate grievances from teachers.
The school district — through a process known as the “interaction dialogue procedure” that has been place for years for teachers and staff dealing with health issues — has already approved 30 teachers and other staff to work from home.
The MEA effort is bypassing that process.
The board’s decision to have teachers conduct remote learning from classrooms was so that educators would have maximum access to resources and would be available during the school day for student and parent access. It also allows for a smoother transition when COVID-19 conditions warrant going from remote learning to having half of the district’s students in classrooms for two days each week and the other half working from home and then flipping it for two days with Wednesdays set aside for teacher prep and deep cleaning.
“We’re fighting for the soul of our students,” District Superintendent Clark Burke said while emphasizing every effort is being made to put protocols in place designed to reduce students as well as staff from being inflicted with COVID-19.
The district’s argument to justify the three-phase learning model in place this school year that is designed to allow moving from remote learning to a hybrid model to standard classroom settings with social distance and other protocols in place based on COVID-19 conditions is multi-faceted.
*Assuring learning equity given the lack of access to teachers by students that are struggling the most such as English as a Second Language can cause them to fall farther behind.
*The premise that in-person teaching is more effective.
*The real possibility COVID-19 will be a serious issue for a year to 1½ years and that learning has to be structured to assure health and safety while at the same time does everything possible to make sure students don’t suffer the consequences from falling behind in securing the best possible education.
“We really have no qualms (that teaching remotely from classrooms) is the best learning environment to support remote learning,” Burke said.
The pitch for more pay
for high school teachers
The MEA push for a 33 percent pay hike while high school teachers instruct remotely — an amount that would cost taxpayers as much as $30,000 a year depending on longevity and pay scale steps — is based on the block schedule.
The boilerplate grievance states “Manteca Unified School District has violated Article XI, Section 1, Hours Per Week which states, “The workday for unit members teaching grades 9-12 shall consist of a five (5) period (Block schedule consists of three (3) periods) instructional day and one (1) non-instructional period which shall normally be used for preparation, parent/student conferences, and meetings with administrators.”
Johnson asserts the district is also violating the block waivers agreed to in the spring of 2020.
The boilerplate grievance also states “certificated staff are currently teaching 4 classes in a five-period day which includes 3 academic instructional periods, 1 Support Period, and 1 Prep Period. Teachers are required to take attendance and teach for the academic classes and support period. The block waivers state that teachers will teach 3 periods and 1 non-instructional period in a 4 period day. As per contract and past practice, if a teacher takes on an additional period, that teacher would receive an additional 33% in salary compensation. No secondary certificated staff is receiving the additional compensation.”
The grievance states that the MEA’s “resolution is that each educator teaching a 4-period day receive an additional 33% in salary compensation.”
Deputy Superintendent Roger Goatcher noted “teachers are not working more” in terms of the scheduled school day the district now has in place as class times have been shortened.
The current block periods have been shaved 20 minutes apiece to set aside the support period the district created struggling students to communicate one-on-one remotely during distance learning.
MEA demands new
face mask each day
or better face masks
The grievance involving face masks that calls for a new district supplied mask every day would cost taxpayers $334,800 based on 1,200 teachers, 186 work days, and a cost of $1.50 per mask.
The district’s policy put in place for the pandemic provides:
*250 paper hazmat suits for teachers that request them.
*2 face shields for each of the district’s 1,200 teachers to start the year.
*4 face masks for every employee — including teachers — to start the year.
*Two cloth face masks for every student.
*Issuing re-useable water bottles.
The district originally ordered 1 million masks to make sure they would have supplies to get through the year. They just recently placed an order for $100,000 worth of more masks and are in the process of spending $560,000 plus for sanitizing stations with the ability to fill re-useable water bottles to place six at each of 30 campuses.
That means the district when all measures such as Plexiglass are taken into account has already spent in excess of $1.7 million to help assure staff and student safety during the pandemic.
The MEA, though, wants more expensive cloth masks provided that are good for 25 washings.
The boilerplate grievance states teachers “have received fleece disposable face masks. These are often called one and done face masks. A recent study by Duke University demonstrated that fleece face masks provide less protection than not wearing a mask at all.
“I would also like to draw your attention to California Labor Code 6400 which states that employers must provide a safe work environment, “ Johnson states in the letter. “In addition, California Labor Code 6311 which states that employees have the right to refuse to work in unsafe working conditions.
“When an employer requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), they incur an obligation to provide that PPE. The Manteca Unified School District (MUSD) is requiring employees to wear face masks while at work. MUSD attempted to fulfill its obligation by providing face masks. Unfortunately, there are issues with the district provided masks:
“1. The MUSD provided face mask does not cover all members’ faces adequately to provide protection.
“2. The MUSD provided face mask has only a single layer of fleece without straps or ear loops. CDC guidance states that cloth face masks should be made of multiple layers with straps or ear loops.
“3. The fleece masks provided by the district appear to be manufactured by Bella + Canvas. Both fleece masks without ear loops or straps that are shown on the on the company’s website are disposable and designed for single use. From the Bella + Canvas website: ‘This 7.0 oz fleece fabric serves as a barrier and is intended to be worn for the day and disposed of.’”
The boilerplate mask grievance ends with the statement, “Therefore, I respectfully request that teachers be given the option to work remotely.”
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org