Do SDUSD’s Negotiations with Labor Unions Run Afoul of State Law?

Negotiations between the parties “shall not take place on any proposal until a reasonable amount of time has elapsed after the submission of the proposal to enable the public to become informed and the public has the opportunity to express itself regarding the proposal at a meeting of the public school employer.  Gov. Code § 3547(b).

San Diego Unified School District says it will release an update to their reopening timeline and plans at the Board meeting on 2/23. There’s no presentation the public can review beforehand, no information sent to parents so we can be informed.

It’s consistent with ongoing lack of transparency and frankly, flat out law breaking, by San Diego Unified. (also this and this)

Case in point is another Agenda Item – G.1, an item to approve 13 different union contracts, some of which date back to October 2020.

The public had NEVER seen these contracts prior to the agenda being published a couple of days ago. In fact, we requested one of them through a California Public Records Act Request 2 weeks ago. SDUSD told us they’d have it in “10 weeks” and still hasn’t turned it over. The law says they must send public records when they are available, without delay.

San Diego Unified School District has a legal obligation to present all initial proposals in any contract negotiations between the district and an employee group (such as SDEA) at a public meeting of the board of education.

(“All initial proposals of exclusive representatives and of public school employees … shall be presented at a public meeting of the public school employer and thereafter shall be public records.”) (emph. added). (Gov. Code § 3547(a))

The San Diego Unified Board seems to only disclose these contracts to the public after they are already signed and operational. In fact, last year, they signed an Early Retirement and Healthcare Incentive MOU in October, but did not disclose it to the public until two months later at the December 8, 2020 Board Meeting. In those two months the Board approved multiple retirements through a “Human resources Action Report” hidden in the consent agenda. We had parents calling us and asking if we knew why teachers at their school were leaving and had no answer. This SDUSD Board and district leadership led a concerted effort to keep parents in the dark. They even presented an annual HR Update after the agreement was signed and did not disclose it to the public.

On an annual basis the Board of Education is presented with an update on the actions taken to ensure staff are in place for the start of the school year. This year’s update includes a discussion of our diversity, efforts as well as the actions taken to support employees and ensure the continuity of learning despite the COVID-19 pandemic. “

San Diego Unified big enough to know better. They must be more forthcoming with the public. School reopening has been held up for an entire year due to contract negotiations with our teachers union, SDEA, and the public doesn’t know what is being negotiated. We don’t know if we’ll be surprised once more with a “voluntary” program for teachers to return, as happened with Phase 1. The most recent contract indicated a full school day would now be dedicated to teacher prep.

After a year of no school, they are shortening our school week by one day? And this is after SDUSD asked the legislature for more funding to “extend” learning.

San Diego Unified initially had a goal to roll out Phase 2 on January 4th. They postponed it due to high community levels of Covid-19, but we are now realizing they have no approved contract with teachers for Phase 2.

For all these reasons we sent the following letter to the Board and Superintendent over the weekend:

San Diego Unified has an obligation to disclose these bargaining agreements to the public. We urge the district to be more transparent with parents and the public.

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