The 2018-2019 school year had a variety of issues where the Grievance Team got involved. We tackled issues such as a lack of locks on staff bathrooms, admin attending union meetings, dirty air filters, etc. However, what dominated this year’s docket were those problems involving Special Education, Gen Ed teachers, support staff, their students and safety issues.
We defend our contract. So when, in the Fall and Spring of this school year, OGEA members at different school sites were injured by their students, the grievance team pursued the Safety Article 16, which states that
“Every effort shall be made to maintain healthful and safe conditions in all
classrooms. Teachers shall not be required to work under
unsafe conditions or to perform tasks that endanger their health,
safety, or well-being.”
In one case, the member had take a few days off to recover; their student was suspended. In another case, the member was allowed to leave for the day, and the student was removed from their classroom pending appropriate placement.
The resolutions to these and other cases involving the special education and general ed teachers are complicated, at best.
There are laws that serve to preserve a child’s right to a public education in the least restrictive environment. So, meetings where stakeholders are present, such as the teachers, parents, psychologist, RSP, etc. need to take place to deliberate on what’s best for the student, depending on their needs and goals. Our role as a union is not to change the laws that govern Special Education, but to uphold our contract for the betterment of members' daily work environment.
For questions or comments, maripaz_D@hotmail.com