The Yuba City Teachers Association sent a cease and desist letter to Yuba City Unified School District Monday night – the union is unhappy with the way the district has been developing its distance learning program.
The Appeal was sent a copy of the letter by YCUSD Superintendent Doreen Osumi.
“We are at a loss to understand why the leadership of the union representing YCUSD teachers would seek to block a distance learning program our community needs,” Osumi said in a statement.
The letter states that the district did not provide the YCTA with the proper notice of or opportunity to bargain about the changes that will be implemented when the distance learning program goes into effect.
“Regrettably, the district has chosen to revert to an old playbook,” YCTA President Dina Luetgens said in a statement. “The district wants to ignore YCTA and the law by not negotiating distance learning. They want to impose their plan for instruction through distance learning without working with teachers to establish clear parameters and supports.”
Osumi said the district sent a three-page memorandum of understanding which broadly laid out the changes that would be implemented due to distance learning. YCTA responded with a seven-page MOU of its own that included a more detailed set of demands from what the district proposed.
Osumi said the district’s memo was kept broad in order to leave room for flexibility given the unprecedented adjustments being made to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis. She said the union’s demands were for “what if” scenarios that she hoped would be worked out as the situation developed.
She said the district’s MOU was similar to ones signed by other districts in the area that did not face any push back.
“I’m not sure why other unions were able to agree and sign without delay and get to work for students when this took days to think of seven pages of demands,” Osumi said via email.
The cease and desist letter said the district had ignored the provisions of the Educational Employment Relations Act that prevents the district from making unilateral changes without negotiating with the union and that the district incorrectly interpreted the Governor’s Executive Order in its belief that funding is contingent on prompt implementation of distance learning.
“School districts must have the ability to enact emergency measures, and we have done so in a matter consistent with the law and in cooperation with our teachers,” Osumi said in a statement.
Osumi said that 80 union teachers volunteered to help develop the district’s program that is set to start April 13, after spring break.
“This is just a distraction that’s not needed,” Osumi said.
Luetgens said YCTA is not trying to stall the process and supports distance learning. The union reached out to the district before schools closed to start negotiations, but the district did not engage.
“The district has squandered an opportunity to lead and assure confidence, instead they used their position of power to demonize YCTA and the teachers of our district,” Luetgens said. “Now is not the time to vilify the union or anyone else. Now is not the time to misrepresent the actions of others.”
The cease and desist letter said that if the district continues with its planned changes, the union will seek legal action.
Osumi said the plan is to have the distance learning program in place for April 13 and that preparation is continuing to accomplish that goal.
“I can’t let that stop me from the work that needs to get done,” Osumi said.