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Teacher Layoffs & realignments (News analysis and opinion)   |   Realigned teachers hire lawyer with conflict of interest   |   Nearly 100 attend meeting called by realigned teachers

Nearly 100 attend meeting called by realigned teachers
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

 by Doug Mann, 21 July 2004
    Attorney Gregg Corwin offered to represent teachers in a lawsuit that challenges the "reasonableness" of the district's teacher realignments, but will not allege that the district has violated limits on its right to bump and layoff teachers. It would be impossible to represent teachers on contract issues without further alleging that union officers failed to do their duty as the teachers' exclusive representative.  And Mr. Corwin's clients may be running the risk that their case will be throw out of court because they have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.
     According to about a dozen teachers who attended the meeting, teachers generally do not assert rights that limit management's ability to bump them out of one job and into another due to misinformation, lack of effective representation from the union, or fear of retaliation from the management.   

    I advocated challenging the layoffs and realignments as a violation of teacher tenure rights as well as it being unreasonable.  The Teacher Tenure Act does not permit the district to terminate or modify the employment contract of any teacher involuntarily after their probationary period, except as provided in MN statute 122A.40 subdivision 9, 11, and 13.

"...the teacher's contract must remain in full force and effect, except as modified by mutual consent of the board and the teacher, until terminated by a majority roll call vote of the full membership of the board prior to April 1 upon one of the grounds specified in subdivision 9 or July 1 upon one of the grounds specified in subdivision 10 or 11, or until the teacher is discharged pursuant to subdivision 13, or by the written resignation of the teacher submitted prior to April 1..." -MN statute 122A.40 Subd. 7

A reassignment is generally not considered involuntary when a teachers does not formally challenge it within the time allowed by the teacher tenure Act or Union Contract.  Teachers only have the rights they are willing to assert.  And the right to NOT be bumped out of one's position except for reasons stated in the MN Teacher Tenure Act is very rarely asserted, according to about a dozen teachers who attended the meeting on July 21, either because they have been misinformed about their contractual rights and duties, lack of effective union representation, or due to fear of retaliation by the management.
    Corwin stated that due to a conflict of interest he is unwilling challenge the reassignments as a violation of the teachers contract. To do so would put him at odds with the leadership of the teachers union, and that would adversely affect his professional relationship with the leadership of the teachers union [Corwin works for a school employees union that has endorsed most current board members.  Corwin also works for several other unions, whose leaders would probably not appreciate him taking any legal action that might have negative repercussions for leaders of another union and DFL office-holders].  
     Union members who want to challenge the layoffs and / or realignment process as a violation of their rights under the teacher tenure act and their contract must act very quickly. It may already be too late for many. Also, teachers who received layoff notices but were not informed of their right to contest the decision to lay them off may be able to reset the clock, i.e., extend the deadline for filing a grievance.