No confidence, Sam JacksonBy Heather Murtagh
Teachers called for the replacement of Superintendent Sam Johnson and Associate Superintendent Ethel Konopka yesterday when they informed the San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees that 96 percent of district teachers have no confidence in both.
Hundreds of teachers and faculty members filled the Aragon High School theater to explain their lack of trust in district staff. Careless and reckless budgeting, repeated and willful contract negotiations, inept personnel moves, bargaining in bad faith and a series of unfair labor practices were cited as the teachers' inspiration to vote.
"[The teachers] haven't violated the contract. If we violated the contract we would be subject to discipline and possibly dismissal," said Teachers Association President Craig Childress. "Shouldn't the district be held to the same standard?"
An overwhelming 96 percent of the 95 percent of teachers who voted were in favor of the no confidence vote last week. Seventeen reasons - most were rooted in the ongoing budget drama - were given for the overwhelming vote which resulted in the request to replace Johnson and Konopka. The implementation of the academic core and the seven-period day were also factors listed in creating the whirlwind of problems this year.
The vote is the culmination of months of escalating strain between district staff and officials since the school year kicked off with $3.5 million in budget cuts. The announcement comes weeks after both sides reached impasse in contract negotiations. Health care benefits were a major factor in the decision to call for impasse. Teachers claim the district is illegally bringing the County Office of Education into negotiations.
When the budget problems began, the county office did send a guideline for negotiations to maintain the balanced budget. The county isn't involved with actual negotiations. However, the district's current budget situation makes any negotiated contract subject to approval by the County Office of Education, said County Supervisor Jean Holbrook.
The San Mateo High School District Teachers Association also filed a number unfair labor practice charges with the California Labor Regulations Authority because of tactics used by the district negotiation team. Last week, the Board of Trustees discussed 14 of the 32 grievances teachers filed against the district during this year - an issue that remains unresolved.
Johnson took the news in stride, acknowledging this was a hard year with many obstacles.
"Difficult times call for the difficult decisions that have been made and will need to be made. I can't control how I'm perceived in making the decision," he said in an earlier interview.
Not everyone was out to get the administration, Parents' President Council President Claudia Helenius thanked Johnson for his work in implementing the academic programs.
Copyright ©2006 Daily Journal. Published 12/15/2006.