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Local News

Richland teachers union unhappy with board of education

No response has been made to June's vote of no confidence

CREST HILL – Richland School District 88a teachers union representatives read a letter during Wednesday’s board of education meeting that admonishes the board for not taking action following last month’s teachers’ vote of no confidence in top administrators.

The letter written by IFT Local 604 President Richard Manley said, “The notion that the Board is willing to delay addressing the Vote of No Confidence, bringing students into a new school year as if nothing has happened is part of an insufficient and insulting response to the teachers and community of Richland.”

The vote of no confidence in Superintendent Michael Early and Principal Kelly Whyte was presented to the board during a June 18 board meeting.

The letter also states that the board immediately supported the administration after the vote of no confidence, and cited the board’s “moral obligation” to hear all sides and data to determine the best course of action for the district.

“The Union has met with the Board in an attempt to solve these issues many times previously. ... It’s now up to the board to fulfill its moral obligation to represent the interests of all the people served by this organization and take swift substantive action,” the letter stated.

Union Vice President Steve Camp also said the union is dealing with three grievance cases involving teachers and the work climate that have recently been filed. He said another grievance is being filed on behalf of a teacher as soon as Thursday.

Early said the board was unaware of the letter, and that teachers hadn’t brought any specific concerns to the board regarding himself or Whyte.

He acknowledged the grievances, which were regarding the teachers’ contracts, but said none had been filed specifically against any administrator.

Early also acknowledged an email that was sent out by Board President Julie Starasinich saying that because of summer scheduling and the need to have everyone at the table, discussions will be held in early fall.

“Tonight in public session was the first response that the union gave since that communication,” Early said.

“That’s not soon enough,” Camp said.

Camp said teachers have repeatedly pleaded with the school board and administration about a hostile work environment over several years. They also said the administration made decisions that cut instructional time and hurt student achievement.

Board President Julie Starasinich issued a statement at the June 18 meeting stating the board had full confidence in administration. 

Starasinich acknowledged there is a work climate issue and said the board has spent considerable time addressing it, but she said the board couldn’t act on any claims because teachers hadn’t gone through the formal grievance process in the past.

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