NATOMAS, Calif. – The Natomas Unified School District wants parents and students to fully understand ongoing contract negotiations with the Natomas Teachers Association, including the union’s most egregious proposals.
So district officials sent out an email to parents last week detailing the NTA’s most recent offer, and decoded the union legalese into plain terms.
The Feb. 4 email spelled out specific NTA proposals submitted two days prior that would prevent district officials from firing teachers who engage in inappropriate relationships with students, bully students or colleagues, or carry guns on campus, among other things.
“NTA Proposal: ‘Discipline shall not include dismissal or suspensions for more than fifteen (15) days.’
“This means: If a teacher engages in an inappropriate relationship with a student(s), they cannot be fired. If a teachers brings a weapon on campus, they cannot be fired. If a teacher assaults, harasses, and/or bullies a student, staff member, or community member, they cannot be fired.
“If a teacher is arrested, tried and convicted of a crime, the District could not dismiss this teacher unless the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) takes away his/her teaching credential,” the district email read.
District negotiators also pointed to provisions of the proposal that lay out a “progressive discipline” system for employees that requires verbal and written reprimands before officials can issue a paid suspension.
“For all misconduct, regardless of the severity, the first disciplinary step would be a verbal warning … that’s all. The second step would be no more than a written warning. The third step would be no more than a written reprimand,” according to the district negotiation update.
“The fourth step would be no more than a paid suspension not to exceed fifteen (15) days. In addition, in any instance above (teachers in inappropriate relationships with students, weapons on campus, bullying students or staff) if a teacher engages in similar conduct any more than a calendar year apart, they will receive a clean slate, and start the discipline steps from the beginning with a verbal warning.”
Another provision proposed by NTA officials would also force anyone who accuses a school employee of misconduct – such as inappropriate touching or harassment – must confront the employee in a face-to-face meeting with a union representative before the district act on their complaint.
District spokesman Jim Sanders told CBS Sacramento the district’s email to parents was designed to illustrate why the union proposal was rejected.
“We want to drive home the point that this is simply not something we can accept nor do we think the community can accept,” he said.
Parent Chaz Morris seemed to agree.
“Absolutely outrageous,” is how he described the NTA proposal to KCRA. “Wow, I can’t believe this.”
“It makes absolutely no sense,” another parent told CBS Sacramento. “Why would they get special treatment?”
Union negotiators, of course, claim district officials are misrepresenting the intention of their proposal.
“The intent of the article was to provide the district with tools to work with our members in the case that there are any minor infractions,” NTA President Phil Cox told the news site.
“We are shocked, disappointed and offended,” Cox told KCRA. “It’s utterly false. The intent of the proposal that we submitted was to give the district tools to deal with teachers that may step outside the lines of professionalism.”
“Anybody who does exhibit those kinds of behaviors in our schools is subject to the legal system, the ed code…so to say that we’re putting this language in to protect child molesters, teachers that are dealing drugs on campus is insane,” veteran teacher Michael Turner told ABC 10.
Regardless, district officials “stand by the accuracy of that document,” Sanders said of the email, which is also posted on the district’s website, KCRA reports.
“Remember, we didn’t propose this,” he told ABC 10. “We’re not shoving it down teachers’ throats. They had control as to what they wanted to propose.”
Parents are now weighing in on the issue with the school board as the district pursues an unfair labor practice complaint with the state. The NTA, meanwhile, is requesting to take legal action against the district through its parent organization, the California Teachers Association.