The Columbus Education Association will rally outside the Columbus City School board meeting on Tuesday night, accusing the district of violating its contract by unilaterally trying to remove members of a homeless student program from contract negotiations.
CEA spokeswoman Regina Fuentes said the district is rewriting job descriptions for union members who are part of the district’s Project Connect program — which provides services to homeless students and their families — without talk to the union first.
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Teachers, supporters and community members plan to gather at 4:30 p.m. outside the district’s South Administration Building at 3700 South High St., where the board is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m.
Why is the Columbus Teachers Union considering joining the district’s Project Connect program?
Fuentes said the reshuffling of the position would not only result in a pay cut for school staff who work with the program, but also “deprive them of their union status” so that they are no longer protected by collective bargaining. . She added that the changes could potentially deter people from applying to work with the program.
“We have almost or more than 2,000 children (and their families) in the district using these resources,” Fuentes said. “What the district is trying to do in a nutshell is go behind the scenes without having any type of discussion with us.”
In a press release, the union said it obtained an internal email from Columbus City Schools in response to a public records request that allegedly proves the district rewrote Project Connect member agreements without speaking with the syndicate.
The CEA said the action is “a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and state law.”
“Our students who experience homelessness are not second-class citizens and deserve the same access to CEA professionals as all of our other students,” CEA President John Coneglio said in the statement. “The district’s unilateral decision to outsource these jobs highlights the efforts the district is prepared to make to deprioritize the resources our vulnerable students need.”
City of Columbus Schools Statement
In a statement, Columbus City Schools did not respond to allegations of breach of contract. The district said it “has created new job classifications within the classified public service” — Young Academics Support Advocates and a Student Services Program Coordinator — to provide “non-teaching support to homeless students and their families”.
The district added that students “will not receive lesser service than has been provided in the past.”
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“We cherish every student who walks through our doors, no matter where they attend school or live. We want all students to succeed, and we will provide them with the tools they need to grow in the classroom and in life. All our students, including our homeless students, receive instruction from our dedicated and licensed teachers.” the statement read.
“Change, even when difficult, is sometimes necessary. But the bottom line is that we will always keep our students as our top priority.”