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BOE to debate competing educator policies

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton County Education Association President Sid Chapman was trying to contact members of his organization on Friday, so the association could show up en masse to protest the school system's plan to repeal an educator's rights policy during today's board of education meeting.

Chapman was caught off guard when he learned the agenda for Saturday's board meeting included the rescinding of the policy, which was sponsored by the 2,800-member CCEA.

Instead, school officials are showing favor toward the Teacher's Bill of Rights policy sponsored by former board member Norreese Haynes, who is also the executive director of the rival Metro Association of Classroom Educators. It is only being revised.

The decision is laying the groundwork to reopen old wounds from last year's bitter struggle to get the two proposals approved. Throughout the spring of 2007, approval was sought for both the Haynes-backed proposal, and the CCEA-backed plan.

Both of the proposals from the county's teachers' groups were adopted in the end.

"I met with [Superintendent John Thompson] and [Deputy Superintendent Judith Simmons] on Wednesday, and they didn't tell me this was going to happen," Chapman said. "They asked me to help them recruit more teachers, and then they turn around and do this ... It's a stab in the back of educators in Clayton County," said Chapman.

The fight over the competing proposal comes as the school system fights to keep its accreditation.

The district will lose its accreditation on Sept. 1, if nine mandates for improvement are not met by that date. One of those mandates is to purge the school board of undue outside influences, such as that which can sometimes be exerted by teachers associations.

"I find it highly suspicious that they would chose to repeal an educator's rights policy that is backed by CCEA, while only revising a teacher's rights policy that was backed by John Trotter, and MACE, and Norreese Haynes," Chapman said. "We are a legitimate organization. We've been cooperative while they dealt with the SACS issue, but now we are going to go forward with whatever it takes to stop this."

Tensions arose during the spring of 2007, when Haynes' Teacher's Bill of Rights, and CCEA's Memorandum of Educator's Rights were engaged in an off-and-on again competition. Both policies were brought before the board's now defunct Policy Committee in March 2007, and committee members asked Haynes and Chapman to combine the proposals, because they were so similar.

The two sides never met to merge the proposals, though, and the now-defunct Operations Committee approved the Teacher's Bill of Rights two months later. The now-defunct Student Achievement and Support Services (SASS) Committee heard a proposal on the Memorandum of Educator Rights a week later, and approved it in June 2007.

Both policies were approved by the board by the beginning of August 2007.

Haynes, and Julie Lewis, the school system's legal counsel, who is introducing the repeal of the Memorandum of Educator Rights to the board on Saturday, could not be reached for comment.