The president of the Alpine Education Association says the school board has approved a career-ladder policy that violates state law.
The five Alpine board members voted unanimously to approve the policy Tuesday during a meeting in which Alpine Education Association President Bart Farnsworth complained the district will be denying teachers their rights if it does not change the policy."I am speaking as president of the Alpine Education Association," Farnsworth told the board. "The career ladder plan as it now stands is in violation of state law. I would seriously encourage you not to pass this as it is tonight."
Superintendent Steven Baugh recommended the board pass the policy on the condition it review Farnsworth's complaints and make any necessary revisions during its next meeting. Board President Jan Lewis made a motion to table the policy pending a review, and Richard Gappmayer, vice-vice president, seconded the motion, but board member David Harvey argued the policy had to be passed so administrators could begin implementing it before the school year starts. The rest of the board eventually agreed with that idea.
Several points in the career-ladder policy will be investigated to determine whether they comply with Utah law.
Farnsworth's complaints center on a provision in the policy that requires teachers to undergo evaluations by their peers and school administrators in order to qualify for performance bonuses. The district has structured the program so that teachers won't necessarily have the chance to review their evaluations immediately after they are completed.
State law, Farnsworth said, requires that teachers be allowed to see a copy of their reviews within 15 days of their completion, that they have the chance to discuss the results with the people who've reviewed their performance and that an appeals process be established for teachers who disagree with the results of their review.
Harvey said the latter stipulation is unnecessary because only 18 of 1,100 teachers who participated in the program last year wanted to appeal. Alpine Education Association leaders say everyone should have the right to dispute the results of their reviews.
Teachers' union officials also believe Alpine's Joint Evaluation Development Committee should be the group to decide what standards should be used in the evaluation process and how frequently reviews should occur. They do not want the school board to make those decisions.
Farnsworth is convinced that if the career-ladder policy does not include these points it will not be legitimate, but Baugh and some board members aren't so sure.
"There is some question about the meaning of (the law) for our career- ladder program," Baugh said. "We think the policy is ready to go with some checking. We think there are some areas to be looked at."
And that is what will happen. District administrators will review the legality of the policy and will likely address the issue again during the next school board meeting on Aug. 23.