Pasco school district tries to resolve union complaint
Hours after being threatened with legal action Tuesday, the Pasco County school district moved to resolve a United School Employees of Pasco complaint that teachers' contractual rights regarding self assessments were being violated.
The contract says teacher self-assessments are voluntary during the evaluation process. But memos from the administration suggested otherwise, and the computer program the district used to facilitate the "deliberate practice" part of the evaluation made it impossible to skip the step, USEP president Lynne Webb told the School Board.
She accused the administration of misleading employees and violating their contract, and said she would consult with laywers over next steps.
Superintendent Kurt Browning took offense at Webb's accusations. But before the day was out, he had his Human Resources office send a memo to all teachers clarifying the rules. "A teacher’s Deliberate Practice target element is identified through the use of the Self-Assessment in iObservation. While teachers are encouraged to take full advantage of the Self-Assessment instrument, the system does not require them to complete the Self-Assessment for all 41 elements to move to the next step in creating a Deliberate Practice Plan," it stated, in part.
The memo further noted that the computer system had been reset to ensure that teachers would not have to fill out a full self-assessment if they did not want to. "(T)eachers will only be required to identify an initial rating level for the element(s) he/she wishes to consider or target for Deliberate Practice," it stated.
Webb said spot checks by members showed the changes had taken place, and called the district's recognition of teacher contractual rights "major for us." At the same time, she added, it would be nice if the district would state very clearly what is required and what is optional, rather than using the wording of what's encouraged by leadership.
The union's concerns about "professional learning community" meetings remained unsettled. Webb said she would continue to press for fewer meetings, as negotiated during a grievance earlier in the year.