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updated: 5/8/2013 9:49 PM

Dist. 15 teachers file grievance about schedule change

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Teachers in Palatine Township Elementary District 15 have filed a labor grievance claiming the district and school board violated the terms of their contract by shifting the professional development time they're to be given during the school week.

The Classroom Teachers' Council filed the grievance Monday, Superintendent Scott Thompson confirmed.

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Thompson declined to provide the document, citing its exemption under the Freedom of Information Act and his desire not to jeopardize the process or the district's working relationship with teachers.

After months of surveys, forums and parent outcry, the school board voted Friday to implement an early release schedule beginning in the fall.

Every Friday, students will be dismissed about 45 minutes early so teachers can meet for training, planning, committees and data analysis. Days will be extended slightly Monday through Thursday so that no instruction time will be lost, and the length of teachers' work days will remain the same.

However, the teachers contract calls for a late start unless there is "overwhelming opposition from parents," a clause that wasn't defined.

A survey showed a majority of respondents favored an early Friday release, and about 1,200 people signed a petition supporting early release.

Thompson recommended the board vote for a late start option. He said the contract was negotiated in good faith and highlighted several compromises teachers made. He also said Friday afternoons aren't an ideal time for professional development efforts.

Certain board members have said the CTC needed to better explain its reasoning for wanting a late start.

In a brief email to the Daily Herald, CTC President Lisa Nuss wrote that she's extremely disappointed at the amount of misinformation has been allowed to circulate over the past several months.

"The accusation that CTC has been unavailable regarding the late start issue is completely false," Nuss wrote. "Over the past several months we have met more than 15 times."

The board voted 4-1 in favor of an early Friday release, with one member abstaining and another absent from the meeting. However, the board majority shifted when James Ekeberg succeeded Tim Millar on Monday, evidenced by the 4-3 decisions that put Ekeberg, Peggy Babcock and Rich Bokor into leadership positions.

Thompson said that if a grievance isn't resolved between the district and the union, it will move to arbitration.

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