[The Brazil Times nameplate] Overcast ~ 64°F  
High: 64°F ~ Low: 41°F
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

School board files complaint against teachers

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The battle of legal documents continues between the Clay Community School Board of Trustees and the Clay Community Classroom Teachers Association.

On June 2, the board filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB).

The teachers' union filed a complaint against the school board in April.

Documents filed by Bose McKinney & Evans LLP on behalf of the school board allege the teachers' union inability to comply with Indiana Code 20-29-6-4 -- "the duty to bargain collectively includes a duty to negotiate in good faith" -- as the main reason for filing the complaint.

The board alleges inaccurate statements made by union president Russ True on behalf of the teachers' union during school board meetings and during interviews with media are at the base of the complaint.

The complaint alleges the following:

- At a fact-finding hearing at Forest Park Elementary on Dec. 8, 2004, True told the public the teachers were "tired of picking up the tab for a school board that's spent money like drunken sailors." Both parties had reached an impasse during the 16 months of negotiations, and the board alleges the "demeaning" language represented "bad faith" during bargaining.

- In an interview for a story appearing in the Dec. 5, 2005, edition of The Brazil Times, True said the board offered a "zero percent" pay increase with the knowledge the union had been offered a larger pay increase during a previous bargaining session. True repeated these statements at a public school board meeting on Dec. 8, 2005.

- In January 2006, True's involvement with the improper wearing of "working without a contract" buttons by teachers in classrooms as a way to discuss the bargaining standoff with students was a way to exert pressure "to make inappropriate concessions in the collective bargaining process."

- Also in January, True contacted a board member for the purpose of learning what had been discussed during executive sessions in an attempt to learn information the board was entitled to.

- During March 24-31, True stated in interviews with a local newspaper that the board withheld information concerning the creation of a 7-period day class schedule at the secondary level and that the board ignored a legal mandate that it buy out accrued teacher retirement claims knowing the information to be inaccurate. The board claims to have made the scheduling information available to the union and that no such mandate existed.

With the school board and the teachers' union both filing complaints with the IEERB, which complaint is handled first might not be an issue.

The two could be consolidated so that the hearing officer can get all the facts and a clear picture of events surrounding the complaints, according to IEERB Administrative Assistant Maureen Johnson.

"Unfair labor practice complaints that are filed with the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board are first assigned a case number and then a hearing officer," she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "The teachers' union will have 15 days to respond to the complaint."

If no agreement can be reached after the teachers' response, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled before a hearing is set. If the issue remains unsettled, a public hearing on the matter will be scheduled to take place at a local school facility in Clay County.

If the Clay Community Classroom Teachers Association had not filed their complaint in April, the school board would not have filed one, according to the school board's attorney Jon Bailey.

"Although they had concerns with the bargaining process, the school board did not file first in this matter," he said Tuesday. "(The school board) felt that the IEERB needed the whole story told."

Bailey said filing an unfair labor practice complaint is the equivalent of a foul shot during a basketball game.

"It slows everything down and diverts attention from what's important," he said. "It would be better for everyone if the complaints were put aside (by both sides) and the bargaining process continued."

Due to pending litigation, Board President Steve Grigsby referred questions about the issue to the board's attorney.

The Brazil Times was unable to reach Russ True for comment.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: