The state Public Employment Relations Board on May 15 rejected an appeal by the city’s Department of Education of PERB’s earlier decision to appoint a mediator to help resolve the issue of teacher evaluations in 33 schools.
In the ruling, PERB said that the attempts by the Department of Education to change the improvement model it planned to use for the schools “does not nullify its obligations” to negotiate with the teachers’ union.
In 2011, the Department of Education had agreed in writing that it would negotiate with the UFT over the teacher evaluation system in the 33 schools that it planned to try to improve using federal “transformation” and “restart” models. When no agreement was reached, Mayor Bloomberg announced that instead the DOE would use a “turnaround” model that would involve replacement of up to half the teachers in a school but that did not require negotiation with the union, and the DOE walked away from the bargaining table.
The UFT asked PERB to intervene, and on March 19, 2012, the state labor board said it would appoint a mediator in the case. In his March 19 decision, PERB official Richard Curreri said the city was still bound by its 2011 agreement to negotiate new teacher evaluations at the 33 schools.
The DOE appealed that decision; today’s ruling turned down the DOE appeal and affirmed the March 19 decision that an impasse exists and that mediation is appropriate.
Meanwhile, in a parallel action, the UFT has sued the Department of Education in State Supreme Court over the method it is attempting to use in the “turnaround” of 24 of the original 33 schools. Oral argument in this case, in which the UFT has asked the court to delay any personnel decisions in the schools until an arbitrator has ruled on whether the DOE’s plans are a violation of the UFT contract, are set for Wednesday.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said: “As we plan to tell the court at this week’s hearing, today’s PERB decision is an affirmation that the Department of Education needs to work with the teachers to find a way to improve these schools.”