After agreeing to negotiate over the Safety and Student Discipline article (Article 9) in the PAT-PPS contract, the District recently informed PAT that they are unilaterally implementing a new "Disciplinary Matrix."
As you know first hand, safety is already a major challenge in our buildings, and the District’s changes would make matters much worse.
Because the Discipline Matrix is part of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, which the District cannot legally alter without bargaining with our union, your PAT Bargaining Team met with District leaders today to hear why they believe these changes are necessary and what problems they will solve.
While we share the District’s broad goals of ending disproportionate discipline for Black, Native American, and Latinx/e students, as well as ensuring every student has appropriate support, PPS has repeatedly failed to implement its existing programs or deliver long-promised resources. In fact, the district proposed removing our contract language ensuring a “Full Continuum of Special Education Services” in a year when our Special Educators are already struggling to keep students safe and provide appropriate services for each student.
Today’s presentation (which you can watch on the PAT youtube channel) did little to inspire confidence that things might be different this time. Once again, PPS leaders seem focused on the wrong end of the problem, trying to wish away the fact that many of our buildings are experiencing serious safety issues like students punching their peers or throwing chairs at school staff.
Educators know we will never be able to prevent such behavior by focusing solely on the consequences proscribed in the student handbook. What we need are real personnel and supports in place on the front-end, so we can head off disruptive behaviors, and ensure all our students enjoy a classroom environment that makes learning possible.
And over the past five years we’ve pushed to incorporate these kinds of supports and systems into our contract–everything from training for staff around anti-racism, implicit bias, and culturally responsive practices to fully fleshed-out Multi-Tiered Systems of Support that are consistently implemented across the District and don’t put everything on the teacher’s back.
Unfortunately, the District has dropped the ball time and time again implementing these programs, and their current proposal doesn’t even provide for training or any identified supports for students or educators, despite Superintendent Guerrero’s claims.
We will continue to stand up for what our students need, and to ensure programs like restorative justice are implemented the way they were designed. But until the District is willing to make a long-term commitment, with real resources and follow-through, our students and our school safety will continue to suffer.
We will continue to update members as we bargain over safety and student discipline. But fortunately, we will start bargaining changes in our full contract this school year, which gives every educator across PPS a chance to make their voice heard and set PPS on a better course.
PAT Bargaining Team
Steve Lancaster, Chair