HOUSTON FEDERATION OF TEACHERS
Please include the following to the September 3, 2009 Instructional Consultation agenda:
During previous consultation meetings employee groups have been given the right to use the district e-mail to communicate with our members. Our members have also been able to forward e-mails to members in their buildings. In an August 28, 2009 HISD Assistant General Counsel Mario Vasquez unilaterally took it away by threatening our members who used it. Was HISD lying when they gave us permission or is the administration’s communication with their legal department so inefficient as to make a mockery of any promise? HFT expects the administration to keep its word but how does the administration intend to rectify this with the people who were threatened?
a. Why were school nurses told at the back to school in-service for nurses that school nurses would again be utilized for the Blueprint for Wellness employee health screenings on campuses? It was agreed last year and the year before, etc. that school nurses are not necessary for this program. They should never even be mentioned in any informational email to a principal and, in fact, principals should be strongly discouraged from pulling their school nurses to help employees fill out forms, hold their employee's hands, pass out snacks, set up tables, etc. We are very busy this time of year and our students need us in the clinic.
b. One of our nurses for regular education students is being utilized for MI students who need three nursing procedures per day, along with suctioning and nebulizer treatments throughout the day. That is on top of the 26-40 students that she sees per day along with her other regular education school nursing duties. Last year there was an MI nurse on campus. She was told that there are no MI nurses available and contract nurses cannot be hired.
c. How are school nurses going to be utilized in the event of an H1N1 epidemic? Are there plans to use our HISD nurses to administer the H1N1 vaccine if, and when, it becomes available?
3. H1N1 Influenza – Directive from Medical service
On August 26, 2009 Evelyn Henry issued a directive regarding H1N1 procedures. Per this directive, teachers are to send their students exhibiting signs of illness to the school nurse to assess for swine flu. What are they to do in schools without full time school nurses? It has also been brought to our attention that some schools have cut their MI nurses for their students needing invasive procedures. They are hiring a nurse for 5 days a week and a portion of their salary is coming out of special education funds (typical 40% or 60%). They are relying on that nurse to care for both regular education and special education students. Therefore, some of those nurses are out of their clinics up to 3 hours or more per day performing procedures (recall the nurse at Stevenson who has to run down to the classroom to suction a student when the child can’t breathe as well as perform the tube feedings—that is on the consultation agenda), or they are being asked to perform the special education procedures (such as tube feedings) in their clinics while still caring for any regular education students walking into those clinics. This exposes those fragile special education students to any germs (such as swine flu) walking into those clinics and is really a HIPPA violation because We do not see how a nurse can be performing a treatment and still care for the regular education students at the same time unless they are hiring a full time aide for that clinic whose only duty is to admit students and monitor them in the absence of the nurse—We have not heard of that happening. It is a mess out there and getting worse.
4. Opening of School
As the school year opens there are several negative issues principals can avoid simply by routinely following the rules:
· Classes should be balanced early and class sizes should adhere to legal limits where a law applies and reasonable limits where there is no legal mandate.
· Lesson plans exist to facilitate instruction. They are not a vehicle to document that every imaginable rule or regulation is being followed. The law requires plans to be “brief and general”. Let’s follow the law.
· All teachers are entitled to 30 minutes of duty-free lunch periods.
· All teachers are entitled to 450 minutes planning time during a 10 day period. That planning time belongs to the teacher and there can be no assigned duty during that time.
· The teacher contract specifies a 187-day work year. Those days are approved by the Board of Education when the calendar is adopted. There can be no required duty beyond the contract year.
· The length of the teacher workday is 7 hours and 45 minutes.
· All employees are entitled to all supplies necessary to do their jobs.
· There must be an elected Shared Decision Making Committee in place and actually functioning.
We are having problems with excessive lesson plans and paperwork again. So far this has been reported at Jones HS, Hartman MS (the principal at Hartman says no - but the other administrators are directing teachers), and we have already filed a grievance at Frost Elementary with the new principal who would not listen to the steward, or our staff representative and is disregarding policy by demanding four page lesson plans on legal paper, emails to her. At Helms Elementary teachers are being told to write a daily report outlining their “best practices” of the day.
Also, dress code again, the principal at Young ES is writing teachers up for wearing heel less or open toe shoes.
5. South Region Pep Rally/Prayer Service
On August 26, 2009 South Region teachers were required to attend in-service at Kingdom Builders, which is affiliated with Windsor Village Church. The featured speaker was a representative from the Visionary Leaders Institute. The following is a statement by a person who was in attendance:
The speaker began by saying that he knew about the law on separation of church and state, but he said he would disregard it anyway because he could not separate himself. Then he went into a short prayer. During his presentation, he offered lengthy advice to teachers on classroom management that included, walking the halls before school and exorcising the demons from the campus by touching doors and speaking in tongues; blessing student desks and speaking in tongues; touching students on the head and speaking in tongues, and hugging students. He integrated religion into most of his topics on speaking with parents and co-workers. While I was not offended and found him amusing, the entire presentation felt and was more like a church sermon, complete with a large wooden cross hanging over the stage, than a public school function. I want to know if Mr. Ervin will support teachers who put their hands on students' heads and speak in tongues to discipline them. If paid speakers cannot follow the law on their presentations to public schools, they should not be invited back, and the rules need to be made clear to any who are hired to speak.
6. Computers for Gradespeed
Do all teachers have a classroom computer on which they can easily access Gradespeed?
7 hours ago