State Board of Accounts cites issues with Griffith teachers union contract

2014-04-07T20:30:00Z 2014-04-08T23:14:05Z State Board of Accounts cites issues with Griffith teachers union contractCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GRIFFITH | The Indiana State Board of Accounts noted errors in the contract between the Griffith Federation of Teachers Local 761 and Griffith Public Schools.

The report said the collective bargaining agreement, effective April 28, 2011, through June 30, 2016, violates state law and the agreement includes procedures by which teachers will be evaluated, another violation.

Auditors said both the term of the collective bargaining agreement and the inclusion of the teacher evaluation procedures are against the law, as prescribed by Indiana Code 20-29-6-4-7.

The law says a school employer may not bargain teacher evaluation procedures and criteria. It also says the contract cannot extend past the state budget biennium, which would end in 2015.

Betty Quinn, American Federation of Teachers Indiana representative, said there is a typo on the contract. She said the contract was extended one year to June 30, 2015, not 2016. She said the union thought the issue already was clarified with the school district.

As far as the teacher evaluation process, Quinn said teachers understand the evaluation process cannot be negotiated but must be "discussed."

Quinn said she sent a letter to the Indiana State Board of Accounts on Monday to clarify the issue.

"It was a typographical error. The union's position is that the contract does not run past the biennium. We agree the section on the evaluation is not consistent with the law," she said.

The teachers union is awaiting a response from the Indiana State Board of Accounts before it decides its next step.

Griffith teachers union President Tracy Whitman said she wonders why the Griffith administration did not clarify the mistake with auditors during the exit interview.

"In addition, our attorney, Larry Stassin, has responded to Griffth school attorney Rhett Tauber, and we, the union, have also responded to the state auditor. The issue of a valid contract came up before last year, and the GFT thought we had this settled through a binding agreement that also recognizes the 2015 date, extending our contract one biennium, as specified by the law," Whitman said.

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