Teachers who are part of the Arlington Education Association say there has been a communication breakdown since the School Board authorized collective bargaining in May.
Arlington Public Schools became the second school district in Virginia to do so, after the General Assembly in 2020 repealed a ban on school employees bargaining collectively.
Before that, AEA advocated for public school employees but could not guarantee benefits through legally binding contracts. This month, organization members told the School Board that its approval of the collective bargaining resolution shut out staff, and since then, communication has worsened between employees and APS’s top leaders.
“The collective bargaining resolution that passed in May does not create a fair process,” Arlington Career Center employee Javonnia Hill said at the School Board meeting on Oct. 13. “It is not what you thought it would be.”
As of now, only school administrators have chosen a bargaining unit and elected a representative. Two other employee groups are taking more time to review the resolution language. In the interim, AEA members report not being able to raise concerns directly with Superintendent Francisco Durán and his deputies.
June Prakash, AEA’s new president, said she was prevented from discussing “troubling trends and concerns” with leadership last month because employee groups are still choosing representative bargaining units. She said APS told her that staff should be going to their supervisors or Human Resources instead.
That is not the process AEA members are accustomed to, according to teacher Josh Folb.
“For AEA members, bringing concerns to their union president, who gathers that list to calmly discuss those concerns with the superintendent’s cabinet was the way that we would resolve employee concerns,” Folb said during the meeting. “It prevented the airing of dirty laundry in the public forum.”
He asked the School Board about the appropriate forum to discuss a substitute shortage at the high school level — one so acute that teachers are asked to use their planning periods to teach other courses.
Prakash, who took the helm after AEA’s executive board was ousted following two years of financial difficulties and a drop in membership, said she turned to the Board’s public comment period because of the walls APS put up.
“Did you know our bus drivers, who are required to wear a uniform, are rationed two T-shirts for a five-day work week? Did you know that summer school staff didn’t have keys to the classrooms they were in, leaving our students vulnerable in the event of a lockdown?” she asked. “I look forward to sharing so much more in the coming years. I will not be deterred… I will not fail our members, employees or students.”
APS counters that the collective bargaining resolution was forged with ample feedback, that employees need to move forward with standing up bargaining units, and that employees should discuss concerns with supervisors or Human Resources.
“APS remains committed to working with the Arlington Education Association. AEA continues to voice concerns over the collective bargaining resolution wherein APS met on numerous occasions with AEA and the Virginia Education Association (VEA) to discuss concerns that were brought forth from the associations prior to the final resolution being passed in May 2022,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said. “More than half of the requests from AEA/VEA were implemented into the approved resolution.”
Longtime teacher Danielle Anctil told the School Board that its vote in the spring has effectively shut employees out.
“Unfortunately, your vote has silenced and left out communication and collaborative opportunities since May,” she said. “While it was stated more communication would happen with staff, this has not been our experience over the last four months.”
But the time for going over the language has passed, according to APS.
“At this time, AEA or any other entity that would like to serve as the exclusive representative for instructional personnel and/or support personnel can seek such designation following the verification and election process outlined in the resolution,” Bellavia said.
The School Board is slated to approve administrators’ choice to be represented by a group called the Arlington School Administrators this Thursday.
Meanwhile, APS has issued letters to some Extended Day aides notifying them they will no longer be eligible for the school system’s healthcare coverage effective Jan. 1, 2023.
According to an APS memo to staff, under Affordable Care Act requirements the school system must record the number of hours employees are expected to work, and part-time aides’ hours are too variable for them to qualify for coverage.
Some in the APS community the decision comes as a shock, given the difficulties APS is having recruiting employees. ARLnow has received numerous emails from concerned parents expressing disappointment that the aides are losing their health coverage.
“Extended Day is a critical piece of the childcare puzzle for working families and with today’s low unemployment rate,” wrote Elizabeth Ferrill, whose children previously attended the after-school enrichment program at Key Elementary. “This would not seem to be the time to give our talented caregivers a reason to go elsewhere.”
Shocked that @SuptDuran or @APSVaSchoolBd would cut sick leave & health insurance benefits from @APSVirginia hourly employees who care for our children on Jan 1
It seems both heartless & short sighted to cut benefits for these important caretakers when it's so hard to recruit pic.twitter.com/b9hb1X0K85
— eBike Gillian (@BikeGillian) October 21, 2022
Another possible ending: "Thanks for all you do for the APS community. Your work ensures we are one of the top public school systems in Virginia. Again, if you need help getting on public assistance, please don't ask us. Or just direct your questions to our legal counsel."
— Ashley Goff (@goffashley) October 21, 2022
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 16176 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
A teenage girl on an electric scooter was seriously injured after colliding with a driver near Washington-Liberty High School earlier this afternoon. Shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, police were…
Arlington County is offering residents free training on the anti-overdose drug Narcan. The sessions are available as an hour-long online training course or an abridged, 10-minute training over the phone….
A second candidate has emerged for the open seat in Arlington’s new 2nd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. Last week, Kevin Saucedo-Broach, a former Chief of Staff for…
EDBS Dental Billing Solutions is pleased to announce that it has achieved compliance with the federally mandated standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) through the use of Compliancy Group’s proprietary HIPAA methodology, The Guard® compliance tracking software, and HIPAA Seal of Compliance®.
The HIPAA Seal of Compliance is issued to organizations that have implemented an effective HIPAA compliance program through the use of The Guard, Compliancy Group’s proprietary compliance tracking solution.
Clients and patients are becoming more aware of the requirements of HIPAA compliance and how the regulation protects their personal information. Forward-thinking providers like EDBS Dental Billing Solutions choose the HIPAA Seal of Compliance to differentiate their services.
“Since the nature of our business being exclusively remote, we take HIPAA compliance very seriously. With the help of Compliancy Group, we are able to take steps to fortify our systems to protect PHI information and familiarize each employee about HIPAA and how we can further safeguard PHI data.” said EDBS Dental Billing Solutions founder Goldie De Leon.
Are you feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with life’s challenges? You’re not alone. Mental health issues are more common than you might think, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Our counseling service provides a safe, supportive environment where you can explore your feelings, identify negative thought patterns, and learn coping skills to manage your symptoms. Lauren is trained in evidence-based practices and specializes in a range of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction.
We understand that seeking counseling can be intimidating, but we believe that everyone deserves to live a fulfilling, happy life. Our approach is non-judgmental and compassionate, and we work collaboratively with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and goals.
We offer a free 15-minute consultation to see if our service is a good fit for you. Reach out at https://peacefulmindsolutions.com or call (703) 994-0300 to set up a consultation.
Singin’ in the Rain
The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted for the stage by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping
5 Tips for Buying Your Dream Home – A Free…
Are you planning to move in the next 12 months but feeling overwhelmed by the current real estate market’s low inventory and high mortgage rates? Join us for a short seminar where we’ll provide 5 tips to help you find