Wednesday, June 15, 2011

JFT says school board broke the law with furloughs

In a lawsuit filed on June 13, the Jefferson Federation of Teachers charges that the parish school board violated state law with plans to furlough school employees for one day next school year.

JFT President Meladie Munch said that the board's decision to furlough paraprofessionals, secretaries and clerical employees, custodial and maintenance employees, and crossing guards is an example of "top down decisions that create an adversarial atmosphere (and) will ultimately hurt our students and the citizens of Jefferson Parish."

Munch said that the union is urging the school board to work with teachers and school employees on a resolution to the district's financial problems.

“The JFT recognizes that the district faces budget challenges, but the necessary sacrifices must be shared," she said. "It is unfair to balance budgets solely on the backs of the hard working dedicated employees that serve our children and their families.”

Defending the important role that school support staff play in education, Munch said “Research shows that to be successful, children need clean, safe and orderly schools that are properly and adequately staffed. Paraprofessionals and other support staff play such a vital role in the lives of children and parents. Reducing their salaries and eliminating the services parents expect their children to receive in Jefferson Parish’s public schools is not in the best interest of children—or the community."

The state law governing salaries for teachers and school employees states, “the amount of the hourly wage or annual salary paid to any school employee shall not be reduced for any school year below the amount paid to the school employee in hourly wage or annual salary during the previous school year, nor shall the amount of the hourly wage or annual salary paid to any school employee be reduced at any time during an academic year.”

JFT's lawsuit was filed in the 24th Judicial District Court. A hearing has been scheduled for Monday, June 27.

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