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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco School Board keeps working on contentious rules

Since posting its revised policy manual online earlier this year, the Pasco School Board has faced continued criticism from a group of teachers opposed to some provisions they argue take away employee First Amendment rights. 

The policies deal with workers' communication with board members and their plans to run for public office.

School Board members have made clear they have no intention of interfering with employee rights. But they've struggled to make the language of the policies clear. They'll consider another rewrite on Tuesday.

The proposed communication policy aims to stress that the communication it's dealing with is that of district business. And instead of saying the "preferred method" of communicating is through the superintendent, it states that such matters are "appropriately submitted through the superintendent," who would forward the correspondence to the board "at the earliest convenience."

The suggested wording also puts some onus on the board members, saying if they receive communication from an employee, they "should forward a copy of it to the superintendent as well as to any members of the board who did not receive the original communication."

This attempt hardly sounds like something the teachers, who have talked about their right to speak as they wish and who often seek individual counsel with single board members, will cotton up to. We shall see.

The Political Activities policy has drawn fire for requiring employees to submit campaign plans to the superintendent. Board members have said they only want to know how an employee's campaign would or would not impose upon their work, and not their election strategies.

Here's what the new wording says:

"They shall submit to the superintendent a written explanation of how they will conduct their campaign so that it will be in accord with the requirements of state law and not interfere with fulfilling their obligation to the Board."

That work?

There are pending changes to other policies as well. The first reading of two is scheduled for Tuesday evening. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:01am]


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