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Union presses on school issues

 


Public Service Employees union president Aaron Derr asked the school board Monday night, “Where’s the plan?”

He reminded school board members that when he and about 40 PSE members complained about the level of support on discipline matters last November, they were told that they would receive a plan of improvement from the board within 60 days.

“We have not seen or heard” of such a plan, Derr said with a prepared statement.

He said that it appeared to union membership that the district was being more reactive than proactive in matters of discipline and support.

“There are still a number of members that feel a sense of helplessness in their position and educator and bus driver authority,” Derr said. “Many members are still feeling a lack of consistency in enforcing policies outlined in the student handbook. These inconsistencies have led to a schoolwide feeling of a lack of respect for para” educators.

The district had already had in place a number of staff-wide training sessions before the PSA November meeting. A person from the Educational Service District who specializes in disciplinary matters has held two three-hour training sessions so far this year, and two more are slated.

Even this week, several school employees, along with responders from other agencies, are going to a week-long school-issue training session to Maryland’s FEMA Emergency Management Institute.

District Superintendent Paul Turner said that in addition to five school employees - Turner, Principal Lisa Lakin, bus Manager Stephanie Duclos, Randy Bowman (maintenance), and Secretary Tammy Norris - representatives from the Colville Tribes, the Bureau of Reclamation and Coulee Dam Police are also going for the same training.

“We will be able to compare plans on how we would react if an incident occurred in our schools,” Turner stated.

Derr raised several questions about the support his members receive from administrators, which Turner said will be answered.

Derr Monday night had raised the issue of people being hired or working without proper job descriptions. The district has recently passed a number of job descriptions and still has some to go to address the concern.

The PSE raised the lack of a mentor program for new employees and the fact that bullying was “endemic” throughout the K-12 system.

“Lastly,” Derr stated, “para educators would like to feel like part of the education team. Staff meetings occur outside normal para hours and paras are not offered extra pay to attend. Yet many decisions are made or communicated through these meetings. It would be beneficial to everyone to have the paras, teachers and administrators communicating together.”

Derr stated to the board that the PSE would be back.

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