Reaction to District email

On March 13th, an email was sent out from OCPS school district regarding the current climate survey. We find their response unfortunate. While the email from the district is articulate, we were dismayed by their disparaging remarks and taken aback at the dismissal of your feedback as a teacher. We will give you the facts and let you decide. The specific contract language in question and the steps we took are outlined below.

As a third party hired by the CTA to conduct this climate survey, we have been thorough and meticulous in following the contract between OCPS and the CTA.

Article IV, Section C, Paragraph 4

The Superintendent or designee shall receive a copy of all materials/communications to be distributed district-wide, either through the courier or through email, at least one business day prior to distribution. The administrator shall receive a copy of all materials/communications to be distributed in the school.

According to the contract language, we would have had to notify the Superintendent or her “designee” had we used the courier or OCPS email.  We chose to forgo those options and to deliver surveys straight to mailboxes with return postage paid through the US mail to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. We did however send a copy of the survey to all the administrators on Tuesday March 12th, since it was to be distributed in the schools from Tuesday the 12th through Wednesday the 20th. The CTA also forwarded a copy of the survey to the district as a courtesy on March 13th.

We echo the district’s sentiments regarding climate surveys and their use in the school improvement process. However there is no contract language that states a survey needs to be sanctioned by the district or the CBLT in order to be valid. We believe that any honest feedback from teachers, either positive or negative, is valid and important. Teachers are evaluated on a constant basis, and therefore should have a voice and be afforded the opportunity to do just the same.

There is no way that the survey can be traced back to you personally. If there is a fear of retaliation, we recommend that you take it home, fill it out, and mail it in from your home or drop it in a postal box. Your feedback is important, and rest assured your voice will be heard regardless.

We look forward to receiving your survey in the mail. Please feel free to pass this website (climatesurvey2013.org) on to fellow teachers and/or leave a comment below.

To:   All Instructional Personnel
From: Scott Howat
Date: March 13, 2013
RE:   Climate Survey from CTA

Yesterday, the Classroom Teachers Association (CTA) sent out a climate survey asking for your responses. Please be aware that this survey was not authorized by the District and is, in fact, considered to be a breach of the collaborative process between the Association and the District. The survey was not shared with Superintendent or her “designee” at least one business day prior to distribution as stated in our contractual agreement between the School Board of Orange County and the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. Past practice has been to develop surveys for distribution through the Collaborative Bargaining Leadership Team (CBLT).

This particular survey has not been sanctioned by the District or the CBLT and therefore the results will not be recognized by the District.

Climate surveys are currently recommended as a best practice through the school improvement process, and surveys are sent to parents, students, teachers each year, throughout the school year. School Advisory Committees may use a valid and reliable survey written by District personnel or they may write their own.

- Krista Russell on behalf of Scott Howat

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11 Comments

Filed under Contract, CTA, Mailing, OCPS

11 responses to “Reaction to District email

  1. Vickie

    I have seen too many surveys “written by District personnel”. I’m happy to see that CTA values my opinion.

  2. Fred

    What part of this 3rd party survey is the source of the district’s decision to rewrite our contract without teacher ratificaiton?
    What is the district trying to hide? Get the data and consider it. Data-driven instruction is the mantra; what about data-driven leadership in support of instruction?

  3. Anonymous

    Any school Administrator or District Administrator that fears a work climate survey most have something to hide. We all work on the taxpayers dime- transparency should be everywhere within OCPS. If I were an administrator in any business private or public I would sleep well at night knowing that I treated my staff with respect and tried my best daily to manage my staff- I would welcome any survey like the one in question.
    They say Character is what you do when others are watching- — so i guess the management within OCPS is worried about their character.

  4. Sharon

    In reading the language it is left up for interpertation of the reader. Is it saying that the superintendent or its designee has to receive a copy through email or courrier a day in advance? or is it saying that the information that is sent to employees via this way???? Need better contract language. To much is left for individual interpertation. So, don’t get upset if things happen this way instead get with the CBLT to fix it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whomever they maybe?????????

  5. March 29, 2013

    Dear Members , CBLT and Dr. Jenkins:

    Our PERC filing was held up by our audit documents and therefore we
    received an extension until March 2013. When these documents were ready, we
    sent the renewal in and received a notice that they were denied over a
    notary date not matching the signatures of the two officers. We have been
    in contact with Jennifer Okwabi from their department the whole time and
    she asked that we sign NEW documents, which we did on March 22, and were
    sent and are now sitting on her desk due to her being out of the office on
    vacation.

    This is not unusual as you can look at many union PERC documents online.
    We are in the process of trying to get a different due date on our
    application to avoid this time crunch with our audit in the future.

    Since this was done, I have received e-mails, phone calls from lawyers, a
    call from the Orlando Sentinel and now this e-mail canceling bargaining. I
    believe this is being done in retaliation of the climate survey that was
    sent to all members of the bargaining unit.

    While this is certainly, our issue to resolve, and that has been done, we
    believe this “reaction” to be unwarranted. Kathy Palmer asked me to text
    Scott Howat if there were concerns in the future between CTA and OCPS, I think
    this was good advice. Since I have been denied e-mail access, I write from
    my personal account to say that this could have been discussed with a
    simple text, phone call to me or call to our office. I am certainly
    disappointed in these scare tactics and perceived attempt to embarrass
    CTA in the public eye.

    I value your time and therefore feel the need to let you know we will be
    back at the bargaining table. This e-mail delaying the agreed dates for a group of
    busy members of the CBLT team will only push our goals for employees
    further into the future. I wish you all a restful holiday weekend whether
    you celebrate Easter or Passover and look forward to our next meeting in
    April when we finish discussing Article 10 on teacher Evaluations.

    Diana Moore
    President

  6. Annoyed

    Can we stop being in the news and spotlight for negative reasons and start doing what’s right by the TEACHERS. Without their support and dues there is no union. And if our leaders don’t start thinking of the WHOLE, we will loose members!

  7. Dear Annoyed,
    You are the union.

    I don’t think I saw you at the last meeting, event or school board meeting. Your union is like a gym membership. It works better when you go and participate. If you are that annoyed, why not write your School Board members who could have seen that this was handled differently?

    Your leaders, do think of the whole group. In fact we represent 12,781 teachers, but we have less than 50% join the union. Should I believe that these nonmembers don’t care about improvements in working conditions, salaries, or benefits? Or is it that when things are not going well, our members start circling the wagons and shooting inward?

    Why not talk another member into joining their professional association that provides professional development classes, input on grants, protects due process in the Evaluation system and our contract, as well as many other benefits far to numerous to list here.

    I hope you, yes you, annoyed, show up when your union calls.

    Diana Moore

  8. I think the people who designed this survey’s reading of the contract leaves a lot to be desired. I would read it as saying that the Superintendent or designee shall get a copy of the survey or other document to be distributed in one of two ways, not that the Superintendent shall get a copy of any documents to be distributed in those channels. I also think, if there’s a collaborative group which is designed to foster relations between the OCTA and the District/Board, and this organization has always had input on the design of the climate survey, why wasn’t that done this time? That does not strike me as a collaborative practice.

    I’m not sure how having everyone have a seat at the table to design the teacher / staff climate survey will lead to intimidation or loss of confidentiality. Certainly, the individual survey responses should be confidential, but I’m unclear on how sending them through district channels as opposed to US mail would circumvent that.

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