The Weber Education Association says its lawsuit against the Weber School District is a matter of principle involving a breach of contract.
But district officials see it as a tantrum by the teachers union over a 20-minute scheduling change.A July 31 trial has been scheduled in 2nd District Court on the suit filed in March by the association.
The union argues the school district breached a collective bargaining agreement when it moved the weekly preparation time for elementary teachers from 12:45 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday.
"What the WEA is spending its legal fees on is a matter of 20 minutes," said Byron Fisher, the district's legal counsel. "They want a full-blown trial. It's ludicrous."
But Stephen Jeffs, union president and a teacher at Roy High School, said the district "went ahead and changed the contract without negotiating it first."
"Teacher prep time is not a major issue, but the point is that district officials can't just change the contract without negotiation," he said. "If it can happen on a little issue, what's to keep them from doing it on a major issue? That's where we have to step in."
The district changed start-up times for many schools last fall. School now starts 20 minutes later, and the time has been added to the end of the day. The change meant all schedules were bumped 20 minutes.
The change was made to accommodate students attending elective classes offered in the morning and to help improve bus scheduling, said district spokesman Sue Westenskow.
The exact time for teacher preparation time has always been flexible in the contract, Fisher said.
"It's just this year they decided to blow it out of proportion. It's a year they have money to spend on lawsuits," he said.
Utah Education Association attorney Mark McCoy, who is representing the Weber association in the suit, was out of town for a seminar and unavailable for comment.