Friday, November 21st, 2008
Teacher's union files grievance
Disagreement over administrative order to post lesson plans electronically
By William Kincaid
Celina City School's administration and the Celina Education Association (CEA) have entered into arbitration to resolve a dispute about posting teacher lesson plans electronically.
Superintendent Matt Miller earlier this school year told teachers they must electronically post their lesson plans each week on the computer program, Progress Book, beginning on Jan. 20. He said this is in line with the requirements in the teachers' contract and the purpose is to make sure lesson plans are linked with state standards and expectations.
A grievance filed by the CEA on Oct. 8 says, "Currently we believe there is a misinterpretation of (the contract) by the administration."
The CEA is requesting a cease and desist of the implementation of lesson plans into Progress Book, according to the report.
In a written response, Miler stated that the expectation and contract language speaks to the design of lesson plans.
"However, there is no reference listed in the master agreement on how that is to be accomplished (paper/pencil? in a book? with technology?). It should be understood that the format is a management right, especially since it is holding all employees accountable for introduction and mastery of the standards, indicators and expectations of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE)," Miller wrote.
Progress Book is used by parents to check on student grades and assignments, but only Miller and building principals would have access to the section that would contain lesson plans.
Posting these plans would help ensure students and the district meet or exceed the minimum state standards that are currently not being met in the eyes of ODE and around their community, Miller wrote. On its last report card, Celina schools obtained a 25 out of 30, the lowest in the region.
"One could argue that it is nearly educational malpractice not to ensure the students are receiving the standards," Miller wrote in his official response.
Miller also wrote that all staff have had and will have opportunities to train on Progress Book.
"We are not asking teachers to do any more than what they are already required to do. We are just expecting them to do it in an improved 21st century platform," he wrote.
Miller said he met with 30 to 35 teachers on Nov. 4 in an attempt to make a compromise.
"From my discussions with staff and CEA leadership, it appears that the overwhelming issue for teachers is the amount of time involved in entering and coordinating the indicators with lesson plans on Progress Book. This is especially true at the lower grade levels where teachers are self-contained and may have to enter five different academic disciplines," Miller wrote in a letter to CEA President Wally Ellinger and the CEA executive committee.
Miller offered teachers the option of either submitting their lesson plans through Progress Book or "for the time being" photocopying them and submitting them to their building principal.
The CEA later voted to request a Memorandum of Understanding about the lesson plan options that would have amended the original master contract. Miller declined that request on the advise of legal counsel.
Soon afterward, the CEA voted to go into arbitration.
The American Arbitration Association was contacted and has submitted a list of possible arbitrators that both the administration and the CEA must choose from.
"This process could take months," Miller said, pointing out he hopes an arbitrator is selected before Christmas.
Once selected, an arbitrator will listen to both sides and make a ruling that must be abided by both parties.