When the the Rules Don’t Work to the Teachers’ Union Advantage, Obviously the Rules Must Immediately Be Changed

In yesterday’s Projo, Linda Borg reported that Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith wants Mayor Angel Tavares to reconsider his decision to formally dismiss all of the teachers in the Providence School System…

The Providence Teachers Union president offered the School Board another option Monday night: send out letters that include the possibility of layoffs and terminations….
Smith, who met with Taveras on Sunday, said the mayor offered to recall approximately 1,400 teachers, but Smith proposed another solution: including the option of layoffs in a new letter.
However, as noted later in the story, the conventional reading of Rhode Island law says that it’s too late to initiate a change…
After the public comments, School Board President Kathleen Crain stressed that that board’s hands were tied by a state law that says teachers must be notified of their employment status by March 1.
Hold on though — a group of Democrats at the State House have suddenly decided that March 1 is obviously too early a date for making decisions for the next school year, and have already proposed changing the notification date for layoffs and dismissals (House Bill 5540)…
This act would extend the notification date for the dismissal, suspension or lay-off of teachers from March 1 to May 15.
So as long as Rhode Island legislators have had the epiphany that the March 1 date isn’t sacred and can be changed, shouldn’t we also be considering moving the notification date past the end of the school year, and at least pretend that this change is not being proposed solely for the of benefit particular union in a particular situation?
Changing the law to create a personnel process less disruptive to education process is deserving of discussion. Changing the law to benefit a single organization in its particular maneuvers is not.
Last month, a bill was introduced to the RI House that would move the notification date to June 1 (H5297). It was scheduled for a hearing that was postponed at the sponsor’s request (J. Russell Jackson of Newport). Does this mean that today’s bill indicative of some kind of negotiation going on in the legislature about a new date, or is this a routine case of multiple bills being submitted to the RI legislature on the same subject with rank-and-file legislators letting leadership decide which one, if any, will get a vote?
Also last month, Julia Steiny discussed the early notification date and its ramifications in her Projo column, available here (h/t Marc).

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Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
12 years ago

I’ve been told the March 1 date was something the unions lobbied for – and got – in order to hold a gun to the school boards heads for the 3 1/2 months left in the school year after a March 1 date. In other words, they’d lose the ability to blackmail if the date was June 30, in the middle of summer vacation. Of course, June 30 would make all the sense in the world, being the end of the fiscal year, but we’re not dealing with sensible people here.
Does anyone know for a fact the history behind the March 1 date?

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