The Middleton Education Association filed a grievance against Middleton School District trustees Wednesday, saying the district violated an agreement that said the teachers union would be included in any reopening plan revisions.
Trustees approved a reopening plan revision Monday, to allow kindergarten through fifth-grade students to return to school full-time on Oct. 26. The MEA said in its grievance that the board failed to include members in the process that led up to the decision to revise the reopening plan.
In its grievance, association President Dave Stacy said the negotiated agreement between the MEA, the district and the board of trustees includes a section that requires frequent communication between the district and association during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Communication may include periodic financial updates, and the district and association shall work together to provide a safe and effective learning environment for students and staff,” the agreement said.
In the grievance, Stacy said the board violated that section Monday, when it modified the plan without discussing the move with the union.
“We are just asking to be respected, valued and to be heard, and no one is willing to talk to us,” Stacy told Idaho Education News Friday.
The association is asking that it be included in all future meetings and work sessions regarding COVID-19. It is asking for a special board meeting to discuss the concerns of MEA members when it comes to reopening school. The association is also asking that the board follow the timeline and recommendations from Superintendent Kristin Beck. On Monday, Beck recommended a slower reopening timeline than the one trustees approved.
The association was included in the original reopening plan discussions, but Stacy said he was unable to ask any questions or express any concerns to trustees before they decided to start moving into full reopening.
“We are all at our breaking point for this year, we are doing it because we love our kids, but we are at our breaking point,” Stacy said.
In its grievance, the MEA also said trustees were seen carrying gift baskets from the board room Monday. The MEA wrote that the baskets have been reported as being called “bribe baskets” by the people dropping them off.
Stacy was unable to attend the Monday board meeting in person and was waiting outside, hoping to be called in to ask his questions about the reopening plan on behalf of MEA members. He said he was never let into the meeting and when board members walked out of the district office building, they were carrying gift baskets.
“This creates the perception of impropriety and that the decision was bought and paid for and not at all considered in good faith, the trustees clearly surrender your judgment to individuals or special interest groups by accepting such ‘bribes,’” wrote Stacy in the grievance.
“It did not look right,” Stacy said.
Beck declined to comment on the grievance. Board chairman Kirk Adams did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.