DPS lies by omission.
DPS administration evasive and opaque: Bargaining in bad faith
On Monday night (March 13), DCTA and DPS met to negotiate Article 18 [Student Discipline] of the Master Agreement between the two entities. During this session, DCTA specifically called attention to the current language of the agreement that requires DCTA be included in the process of changing any board policies related to discipline, as well as the District’s past failure to honor this language. Eldridge Greer, head of DPS’ department of Student Equity and Opportunity (which oversees student discipline across the district), neglected to mention that the district would be issuing new board policies in violation of the contract once again as it did this morning during its press conference and when he was on CPR today discussing the new policy.
The DPS team not only included Mr. Greer but also a DPS attorney and the head of human resources. None of these representatives saw fit to inform DCTA that they had already created new board policy implementing a “no expulsion” policy for students in early grades. All of the representatives intentionally omitted the fact that DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg had already convened a press conference for this morning to announce resources for teachers with violent students.
Two of the teachers speaking at the Monday bargaining session displayed physical injuries caused by early elementary students with a history of violent outbursts. These students will be covered by this new policy. Mr. Greer could not speak to a single support or resource for them. Yet Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova claimed today in DPS’s Teacher Weekly newsletter that the district has “compiled a robust set of resources” for teachers facing imminent risk of harm to their students or themselves. Further, DPS claimed it was doing great work to reduce out-of-school suspensions and provide resources. The work done in the district is in fact the result of DCTA work started several years ago to address escalating discipline issues in schools. Currently, the work is supported by a $600,000 grant from the National Education Association, DCTA’s national parent.
DCTA’s contract proposal on discipline calls for additional supports and resources and a plan to keep students and teachers safe. The district team was concerned it might cost too much and be too difficult to implement district wide – only for the district to announce two days later a district wide policy that would remove any flexibility or local control from individual schools.
While DCTA believes that suspensions/expulsions for young students should rarely be used, and supports the effort of DPS to deal with its systemic racism, this new, blanket approach merely limits the ability of schools to protect students and teachers in extreme cases and is another instance of where DPS PR is more important than the reality in our schools. DPS must take concrete steps to protect students and staff. Several years ago, Colorado enacted the Claire Davis bill meant to hold districts liable when they fail to act when they know about students who may be dangerous to other students and staff. DPS needs to keep this in mind.
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