Glendale Teacher's Association calls attention to district 'crisis'

The Glendale Teachers Association held an informational meeting on Feb. 5 at Sparr Heights Community Center for parents and teachers to call attention to what union members called a “crisis” of temporary teacher status in the district.

Teachers are hired into the district on three different levels: temporary, probationary and permanent. All are covered by the same benefits. Teachers that are on temporary status, however, can be released from their position with a 15-day notice without explanation of termination.

“Temporary teachers are a classification of how teachers are hired,” GTA President Allen Freemon explained.

He said that they are hired to replace a teacher who is on leave of absence for one reason or another. “The problem we face is there have been far too many temps hired for far too long.

“When we started this school year, 280 teachers were on temporary [status]. In our estimation this is far too many.”

Back in October, the GTA and the district sent letters back and forth regarding this situation. Freemon added that the district’s response has been either slow or there has been none at all.

Then on Dec. 10, 64 teachers were reclassified from temporary to probationary.

“This was a step in the right direction,” Freemon said. “But we were not communicated with about the matter.”

On Dec. 18, another letter was written to the district asking for information on the reclassifications.

“We still haven’t received any information from the district,” he said.

Then, on Jan. 14, the union retained a lawyer because it felt education codes were being violated.

On Jan. 28, days before the GTA meeting, 228 temporary teachers were reclassified to probationary.

The Feb. 5 meeting was open to the public, however, John Garcia, asst. superintendent of human resources, was asked to leave by GTA member Michael Romo.

“Yes, he was asked to leave,” Freemon confirmed. “It was respectfully done.”

Freemon said that he felt that the district’s human resources director would intimidate any teacher who may want to speak at the meeting. Garcia left at the beginning of the meeting; only one temporary teacher who had recently been dismissed took the stage to speak.

Garcia said he was there to hear what the union had to say.

“It was open to the public,” he said. “I thought they wanted people with all viewpoints to attend.”

Another member of the district administration, Lou Stewart, assist. superintendent of special education, was allowed to stay because she is a community member with a child in a district school.

Temporary teachers that spoke with the Valley Sun said that they had been on temporary status for a long time, some as long as six years.

One woman said that temporary status meant that she lives paycheck to paycheck in fear of being laid off with only a few days warning. She felt that the district should know after four years of her temporary status whether she was either a teacher of worth and should be hired or should be let go.

Garcia said that the teachers are reviewed on an individual basis and admitted that some have been on temporary classification for years. He could not comment on any individual teacher, but did add that temporary teachers that are released from the district usually know it is coming.

“I can’t think of one teacher that has been [terminated] who was not spoken to on several occasions by the principal and warned,” he said.

He did add that the direction the district has recently taken is a move in the right direction and school board members who were concerned about this issue prompted that it.

Freemon felt the move was motivated not by the board, but by the legal action taken in January.

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