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Compton Teachers Union Criticizes State Trustee

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The state trustee of the Compton Unified School District overruled the elected school board and intervened in contract negotiations with the district’s teachers, a union leader alleged Monday.

Thomas Hollister, executive director of the Compton Education Assn., said in an interview that the district’s state trustee, Randolph E. Ward, overruled a contract proposal by the school board last week. District negotiators offered a 2% raise during negotiations--and did not submit an additional 2% cost-of-living adjustment that board members had approved, Hollister said.

Isadore Hall, the school board president, confirmed that the offer presented last week was lower than that approved by the board. He said Ward had not formally overruled negotiators but had instead offered them advice.

“Instead of giving a directive, he’s offering advice,” said Hall, who added that he had sided with the teachers in the matter.

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As a state-appointed trustee, Ward has the authority to prevent any school board action that he believes would cause financial harm to the district.

His apparent intervention would represent the first time that the state trustee has overruled the local school board since the state formally ended its day-to-day management of the district in December.

Although formal authority was restored to the school board, state Supt. of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin appointed Ward, the state administrator of the district from 1996 to 2001, to oversee finances.

Scott Hill, the state’s chief deputy superintendent, said he and Ward spoke last week about the state education budget and what impact that might have on Compton and its union negotiations. But he said he believed Ward had only informed negotiators of potential changes in the state budget process.

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“Randy wanted to make sure that the district was aware of last-minute changes in the state budget,” Hill said.

Ward did not return calls seeking comment.

The union’s approximately 1,700 members have been working without a contract since last summer.

Union officials, who have sought an annual salary increase of 5% in addition to a cost-of-living increase, spent Monday planning a protest of Ward’s alleged involvement in the district’s offer for tonight’s school board meeting.


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