Sept. 10, 2005 – Dr. Noreen Michael Friday evening retreated on her effort to make teachers stay in school longer.
Several days of teachers' protests with sickouts and walkouts apparently forced Michael's hand. (See "Teachers Are Sick of Administration's Actions ").
A press release from the Education Department Friday said, "Given the multiple disruptions at various public schools across the territory, a meeting was held with representatives from the Department of Education, Acting Gov. Vargrave Richards, and Chief Negotiator Karen M. Andrews to discuss the impact of the implementation of the departments new instructional hours policy.
Michael said, "The Policy has been developed to meet the legal requirement of providing 1,080 instructional hours to our students as well as providing time for professional development and faculty meetings, without reducing the pupil instructional time, consistent with V.I. Code. The recent disruptions causing the closures and abbreviated classes at several schools can only be interpreted as a job action in light of the displeasure voiced by members of the AFT over the new Policy."
Teachers were upset because the half hour was added to their workday without discussion with teachers or their union representative.
Tyrone Molyneaux, president of the St. Croix local of the American Federation of Teachers, said the policy was implemented in a manner contrary to the collective bargaining process.
The union had filed a grievance with the Department of Education and filed a request for arbitration from the V.I. Public Employee Relations Board.
Michael continued in her release, "The department considers the instruction of our students to be of paramount importance. The continued disruptions are diametrically opposed to the Departments commitment to providing the very best education for our students. Therefore, I have made a determination to temporarily defer the implementation of the new instructional hours policy."
All schools were told to revert to last year's class schedules starting Monday.
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