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McKenzie Teachers Petition for Collaborative Conferencing

Posted 10/10/18

McKENZIE (October 2) McKenzie’s professional educators want to “collaboratively conference” with members of the McKenzie Special School District’s Board of …

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McKenzie Teachers Petition for Collaborative Conferencing

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McKENZIE (October 2) McKenzie’s professional educators want to “collaboratively conference” with members of the McKenzie Special School District’s Board of Education.

During the October 2 meeting of the Board, Lynn Watkins, Director of Schools, said 81 of the 102 professional educators signed a petition requesting the conferencing, which can address grievance procedures, employee insurance, fringe benefits, leave time, payroll deductions, and working conditions. It is not a binding process, unless educators and board members reach a memorandum of understanding.

If parties cannot reach agreement on the areas subject to collaborative conferencing, school boards have the authority to address such issues through board policy without official determination of an impasse.

Although the educators have petitioned for the process, they will still have to participate in a more formal balloting process to request the collaborative conferencing and decide who will represent them, such as Tennessee Education Association or other associations. Individual teachers can also vote to be unaffiliated with professional representation.

If the teachers and board agree on terms, they can also decide that those terms will be in effect from one to three years.

There are no provisions for mediation or arbitration. The collaborative conferencing law does not significantly change the prohibition on unlawful acts laid out under collective bargaining. It is still unlawful for school boards or professional employees or their designated representatives to threaten, coerce, or interfere with other parties’ exercise of their rights under this law. It is still unlawful for teachers to strike.

Up to the year 2011, McKenzie educators chose to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. However, in 2011, the Tennessee General Assembly made it unlawful for education associations to collectively bargain or strike.

The Board will convene in November to discuss how to proceed with the process ahead of the December deadline.

In other business, the board approved Nick Lowe, SRO, Tim Barker, principal of McKenzie Elementary School, Dorethea Royle, principal of McKenzie Middle School, and Tim Watkins, principal of McKenzie High School to the Disciplinary Hearing Authority (DHA). If parents disagree with the principal’s decision, they can advance complaints to the DHA. If no resolution is achieved, the parents have the privilege of requesting a hearing before the Board of Education.

Board members Jan Latimer and Jon Davis were absent.

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