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Below is an email sent to all Asbury Park staff members by Asbury Park Education Association President John Napolitani. He references last night’s school board meeting where APEA presented the Board of Education with seven new grievances; that’s on top of the 45 or so already submitted this year, all due to is “unbearable and downright cruel” district culture and the refusal of board members to hold the Superintendent Rashawn Adams accountable. This email was issued today, Friday, June 23d.
Good Morning and Happy Friday!
Last evening, the APEA Leadership Team presented another seven Level IV grievances in front of the board. For those of you new to this game, most school boards in the state won’t see seven grievances presented to them in a lifetime, let alone one evening. This Association Leadership, that will continue to fight for our membership, will also continue our quest for fair, equitable, and collaborative leadership from the central office. We have filed over 50 grievances in the last two years under this current leadership. There are no signs of this letting up. We as staff members deserve better than the treatment we are getting currently.
Just to point out to the membership why we continue these grievances, and that we are not just being petty, I need to cite two examples of last evening’s presentations of the Level IV grievances. One example is simple: if the Board overturned an increment withholding for a member last month who allegedly was late 24 times, then a slam dunk for us would be having a member who was allegedly late 17 times be afforded the same courtesy. Mind you, there is nothing in the contract that states increments get withheld after a certain amount of lates. This would be a negotiation between the Union and the Board. Apparently the Board believes in disparity in treatment because they denied the grievance. This will move to another costly arbitration because the leadership team is right in their opinion.
The next example is even more egregious than the last one. If a member is directed to make certain changes in the computer system to update grades for students, and the guidance counselor as well as the principal have signed off on these documents, I believe any member in this Association would follow the directive and do what your told. In this case, the member was suspended, brought back 7 months later, and then told their increment was being withheld. Mind you, this member was assigned an attorney as we do every time they are basically “done dirty”. Even with the evidence in their hand, which were copies of the signed off documentation giving the directive to the member by the building principal, all of the Board members, except two, still followed the recommendation of the superintendent to withhold the increment. This too shall be brought to another extremely expensive arbitration.
I cite these examples for the membership so that you fully understand we are not being petty about the leadership of this district. We have been arguing our cause for two years now. We have proven that the current atmosphere in the district is unbearable and downright cruel to some members. We continually are told the Superintendent will not compromise on ANY issues between us and them and that is just poor collaboration. As the leader of this Association, I personally stepped away from labor relations for quite some time and allowed the other team members to lead. Me stepping aside is good leadership because it shows that I will do anything to settle these matters, including letting the others try to settle them. This did not work so I came back and had the same results: nothing got accomplished and grievances continue to pile up.
We have lobbied the board members, the county superintendent, the state monitor, and the state Senator. The unfortunate thing is the only entity that can change the direction of this district leadership is the Board of Education. So if the Superintendent wants to continue his attack on the membership and the Board members blindly agree with his recommendations, then those members must be shown the exit door for the betterment of the school system because apparently they don’t grasp the concept of disparity in treatment, hostile work environment, and contract/board policy violations.
I don’t look at last evening as a total loss. It should actually invigorate you as a member to get more involved. When I say more involved, I mean simply helping us get three good board members elected to the board this November. We have already begun the interviewing process for endorsing people who may run for the Board. We are meeting next week with two stakeholders who want change as well. Right now if you’re against our members, we will campaign to remove you as a Board member. Last year we were very successful in getting one person elected and that was after starting to campaign late with very little organization in the beginning. We know we can win this November with the right candidates so this will require pre-planning. We welcome your suggestions for potential candidates so please inbox me.
I want to truly thank Stephanie Kelly, Danielle Petrucci, and Sean Hamilton for intensely planning and presenting our cases last evening. Our leadership Team did an outstanding job and the results are no reflection on them whatsoever. It’s pure fear on their side for being afraid to go against a Superintendent. Even though it was a loss, it only fires us up even more to change what can and must be changed which is the leadership of the Board. It’s really that simple. We need people on this Board that are not afraid to stand up and tell the Superintendent that his tactics and ways are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. So please read our emails for updates because we need all hands on deck when the fall comes and the campaign begins!
Please try to rest up and enjoy a restful and fun-filled summer. I will keep you apprised of the updates throughout the summer.