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Union building reps lose jobs at Lorain Schools

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LORAIN — Several teachers union building representatives were given letters of nonrenewal Tuesday and Wednesday.

Lorain Education Association president Jay Pickering said no reason was given for the building representatives’ nonrenewal, but many are filing grievances.

“This stinks of union retaliation, which is illegal,” Pickering said. “And we’ll be filing an unfair labor practice (charge) against it.

He added later, “It’s a huge violation of our contract. There’s nothing in our contract that allows a skilled teacher for example, or any of these, to face termination. So he’s breaking the contract big-time now. And I suppose House Bill 70 he thinks lets him do that.”

The district did not return a request for comment.

Pickering declined to give an exact number of teachers involved. He said he was aware of “less than 10,” but noted “even one is too many.” He said those who were not renewed were all limited-contract teachers who had been with the district roughly three to five years.

Of those not renewed, he said none had received ineffective ratings during their time with the district — which is the lowest rating in the state’s teacher evaluation system. A teacher must receive an ineffective grading for a year, be put on an improvement plan, and continue to be cited as ineffective to be terminated, he explained.

Pickering said what bothers him the most is the difference in how the district treats administrators and staff.

“Where this really stinks, in my mind, is there’s a double standard going on in this district,” he said. “If you’re in administration you can’t get in trouble, but if you’re a teacher they will just fire you for no reason.”

In a copy of a teacher’s nonrenewal letter shared with The Chronicle-Telegram, it states the decision was made on recommendation by Chief of Schools LaKimbre Brown and a copy of the CEO’s April 10 nonrenewal policy was enclosed. The letter is signed by CEO David Hardy.

On April 10 CEO David Hardy elected to not renew three limited-contract teachers. All of them were special education teachers.

First-grade teacher Ashley Krausher is one of the teachers whose contracts were not renewed Wednesday. She said she has taught at Admiral King seven years — two as a student teacher and the past five as a full-time, licensed teacher.

She received an overall rating of “skilled” for this year on May 1 — the second-highest ranking a teacher can receive. Of the two first-grade classrooms at the building, her class was the only one that passed the opinion writing student learning objective, which is meant to measure the effectiveness of a teacher based on student achievement. She said she also passed the state’s Resident Educator Summative Assessment “with flying colors.”

“This is wrong, and it needs to stop,” she said. “It’s not fair. You’re messing with people’s livelihoods and the professions that they work so hard to get and the reason why we do this is kind of being totally flipped upside down, and it’s just so sad.”

She said she was even recommended for tenure by Principal Lori Witt and given her assignment as a kindergarten teacher for next year on May 7.

On Wednesday, Krausher said she was called into Witt’s office with both deans present and given her letter of nonrenewal.

“All (Witt) said was ‘We want to thank you for all your positive communication this year and you went to all the coaching meetings and you did everything we asked you to do, but we have decided not to renew your contract,” Krausher said.

This was her first year as a building representative for the union, something she said everyone in her building wanted her to do because she has a positive personality. She said she had not had any conflicts with building administration leading up to her nonrenewal.

She plans to fight the nonrenewal and wants to stay in the district.

“It’s so much more than just politics and it’s so much more than just teaching these kids,” she said. “It’s a family. You have families that you’ve come in contact with that you’ve had all their kids and then you have kids who you’ve had their sisters or their brothers, and you love them like they were your own.”

Hardy’s move to not renew staff comes at the tail end of the union’s current contract, which is set to expire July 31. Pickering said attempts have been made to start negotiations with the district, but nothing has happened yet. The new agreement would run Aug. 1 to July 31, 2021.

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.

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