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Greenfield school board, union agree to move forward

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield School Committee and Greenfield Education Association have made up — withdrawing the unfair labor charges they filed against one another this spring.

The School Committee also lifted a trespass order that had banned the teachers union’s Massachusetts Teachers Association representative from setting foot on school grounds. It also restored the union’s full access to email teachers and paraprofessionals, which means union officials will no longer have to first receive administrative permission to use a teacher mailing list.

The two sides attended a state-mandated mediation session earlier this month.

“Both parties wish to move forward from this point in a cooperative, respectful and productive manner,” wrote Mayor William Martin, the committee’s chairman, in a letter to union President Thomas Bevacqua.

Bevacqua said that the settlement will ensure a smooth start to the coming school year.

“The GEA is looking forward to a year of mutual respect between the two parties which, in the long run, will serve the community favorably,” he said.

History

The relations between the two sides had been rocky ever since Paul DeMarco became the union’s Massachusetts Teachers Association representative about a year ago. Both sides have since accused the other of changing language in the teachers’ contract before it had been signed.

At the committee’s Feb. 28 meeting, DeMarco approached the committee and attempted to pass out documents to members. Then-Chairman John Lunt, who had asked DeMarco to keep his comments brief and not disclose confidential information, cut him off when he felt he had ignored both of those requests.

That meeting, along with assertions by school officials that DeMarco entered a school unannounced, led the department to issue the trespass order a month later, citing a pattern of “threatening and intimidating conduct.”

The union disagreed and filed an unfair labor practice charge, arguing that the order made it difficult to conduct routine business.

The union must notify the school department whenever a representative will attend a grievance hearing, according to a letter from the school department’s attorney Peter Smith to DeMarco. All parties must follow the direction of the School Committee chairman at meetings and adhere to security procedures when visiting a school in session.

The School Committee also agreed that any changes to email access would have to be negotiated in the future.

DeMarco attended Wednesday’s School Committee meeting and thanked the members for moving toward resolution.

The school board and union are finalizing an agreement on a new state-mandated teacher evaluation system. The parties are also negotiating payment for teachers who work during extended learning time.

The teachers’ contract, which was ratified last summer but not signed until June, will expire at the end of this coming school year. The two sides will need to begin negotiating a new contract in the fall.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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