Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Suit filed over longer middle school day

The Pinellas teachers union filed a lawsuit Tuesday hoping to force the School District to abandon a seven-period middle school schedule that the union claims violates the teachers' contract.

The suit, filed on behalf of all middle school teachers employed by the Pinellas School Board, asks the court to uphold an arbitrator's order that the district return to the old six-period day this semester.

District officials have maintained for months that reverting to the old schedule would be too disruptive for about 22,000 middle school students and that some would be forced to drop electives they need to get into special high school programs.

Superintendent Julie Janssen refused to reverse her stand despite the Nov. 26 ruling, adding that the change would come too soon before the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in February and March.

Union president Kim Black said late Tuesday that she had hoped to avoid filing the suit.

"This is definitely something that could have been negotiated and worked through," Black said. "We have had ongoing discussions, but the options they presented to us traded one contract violation for another."

School Board attorney Jim Robinson said the district has negotiated in good faith with the union to reach a resolution. Among the possibilities: rolling out a new schedule based on a 300-minute instructional day that would allow room for teacher planning time.

"The union has rejected the district's proposals and has insisted on restoring the old schedule," Robinson said.

The standoff began in June, when the School Board voted to lengthen the school day by 14 minutes and add an additional period as a means of cutting $2.2-million from the budget. Officials said the change also would make room for elective courses aimed at getting students more engaged in academics before they reach high school.

Several teachers filed grievances, charging that the new schedule added to their class loads and shaved off planning time without providing additional pay. An arbitrator ruled in November that the new schedule violated the contract, which stipulates that secondary teachers will not teach more than five periods in a seven-period schedule, and ordered the district to return to the six-period schedule.

Robinson said the district intends to respond to the motion and most likely will seek to vacate the award on the grounds that the arbitrator exceeded his powers.

Suit filed over longer middle school day 01/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers


    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem


    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.