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Niemes Program Coverage Slanted

June 08, 1986

We, as parent members of the Niemes School Site Council, wish to respond to the articles concerning the Alternative Program being offered this fall at our children's school. We feel that the press coverage has not adequately reflected all aspects of this very important issue.

When this program was first presented to the ABC Unified School District board for approval, it had already been researched and developed by district personnel. Crucial to this program was that teacher selection would be by an autonomous committee. The program was approved not only by district personnel, but by John Ennis, president of the ABC Federation of Teachers. The program was presented to parents representing the Site Council, Drama Club, Dance Club and the PTA Executive Board--all enthusiastically welcomed it as long overdue at Niemes.

Objections from the union arose later, and seemed to center on the interview procedure for selecting teachers. In addition, some union members expressed concern that the district did not have the authority to transfer teachers, even if a transfer was in the best interest of the school and district.

Even though this alternative program is unique and requires specialized training, skills and personality traits, the union felt that any teacher, regardless of whether he or she is qualified, should be able to remain at the school. The district, however, knows that teachers are employees, subject to the transfer policy clearly cited in the teachers' contract. This contract explicitly provides for the involuntary transfer of teachers when there is a change in curriculum or program, or when it is deemed necessary for the good of the school and the district. In addition, every teacher deciding to leave is guaranteed a job within the district.

Anyone reading your paper during the last few weeks would have drawn the mistaken conclusion that there is only one side to this issue, that of the union. Repeatedly we have read quotes from union officials and school board members representing only this one viewpoint. This, despite the fact that the board has voted three times in favor of the entire program.

Also noticeably absent from these articles are any reports of what appear to be underhanded tactics employed by the union and others who seem to be working to destroy this program before it can even begin. Such tactics include: sending threatening notices to those who might apply to the program and pressuring others to withdraw applications already submitted, as well as sending venomous unsigned letters to board members and making threats about future labor negotiations. It is to be hoped that future articles will reflect more than just the viewpoint of those who can threaten the loudest.

By misrepresenting this issue in the press, you are doing much to fan the flames of bitterness, ensure the future success of these tactics and delay the implementation of this dynamic program. For our children's sake, please help to facilitate the healing process so desperately needed by our school.











McNutt, Ara, Primosch, Heredia and Duenas are Niemes School Site Council parent members).

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