UNION WINS EVALUATION ULP - District must bargain evaluation system!

September 24, 2021

evaluation system

The day it started - On May 23, 2018, former District Chief Negotiator LeighAnn Blackmore attended an Evaluation Committee Meeting at the union hall and declared the District would be imposing a new evaluation system.  Shown here on that day are the CTA members of the Evaluation Committee: Michael Marzano (since retired and no relation to Robert Marzano), President Doromal, Mary Grace Surrena, and Maribel Rigsby.  (Not shown is Blackmore and the District team members. President Doromal ended the meeting and asked them to leave the building. Maribel stopped her from spraying them with the garden hose while they lingered in the parking lot. JK!)

After a  three-year  roller coaster ride of a fight, CTA has won the evaluation Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) filed in 2018.  This is a huge victory for every member of our bargaining unit and indeed for all Florida local unions and teachers.

Some history on the ULP - On November 20, 2018, President Doromal on behalf of CTA filed an Unfair Labor Practice against the District for unilaterally imposing teacher evaluation procedures that changed terms and conditions of employment and refusing to bargain. There was a three day hearing held in 2020.  In January 2021 the hearing officer sided with the District that the charge was untimely filed and recommended that the Commission dismiss it. In February 2021, CTA submitted the hearing's transcript and filed exceptions to the District's charge that our filing was untimely. On April 20, 2021 the Commission issued an order stating they could not find evidence of untimeliness and sent to the hearing officer to make supplemental findings of fact, analysis, and recommendations.  On May 27, 2021 the hearing officer  concluded that CTA's charge was timely and ruled that the District violated 447.501(1)(a) and (c), Florida Statutes, by refusing to bargain collectively.  On June 10, 2021,  the District filed exceptions (48 of them) and requested oral argument. The commission granted an oral argument, which was held on August 19, 2021. 

Finally today, September 24, 2021, the Commission issued an order in favor of CTA.

The Orange County Public School District  has been instructed to post the order for 60 days.  It states:

evaluation order

Read the Commission's Order 

Download File (ORD - FINAL ORDER.pdf)

SOLIDARITY - It took hundreds of hours working days, nights and weekends to achieve this win.  Thank you to Attorney Tobe Lev, Maribel Rigsby, Mary Grace Surrena, Michael Marzano, Chief of Staff Christina Phillips, former Executive Director Michelle VanderLey, Consultant Dia Falco, FEA attorneys, President Andrew Spar, witnesses Andrea Bowles, Albert Davies, Matthew Hazel, Karen Salter, and Jim Demchak, and every teacher who stood in solidarity with us. 

Every teacher deserves a fair evaluation system, which determines their pay under Florida's merit pay system. CTA hopes the District will reverse course to bargain in good faith and work collaboratively with the union to achieve this goal. 

Finally, will the District appeal? Probably. Will they win? It is very unlikely. Enjoy this  victory!

Read more background:

Hearing Officer's Recommendation

Why Was an Unfair Labor Practice Charge Filed?

The President’s message below from the May 29, 2021 newsletter outlines  why CTA filed an Unfair Labor Practice:

become a matyr

 (President Doromal modified the District's Hero hiring poster to make it real.)

Dear Members,

By now you have received the OCPS version of their send-off to teachers as you leave for your summer vacation. The district’s message is: “Happy summer. When you return next school year, you will face a district-imposed evaluation system, which is more demanding than the present one, and will create an even more burdensome workload. Enjoy your break!”

The district’s action in imposing a new evaluation system instead of bargaining one, shows the true top-down culture of our district. It demonstrates how district leadership regards the teachers and instructional personnel who work for them. We are not valued. We are not respected. Our voices are not heard; our opinions are not considered.

The district leaders announced that they created a new evaluation system for teachers and instructional personnel in a disingenuous 'News You Can Use' article. They stated, “This simpler model was developed after discussion with the Classroom Teachers Association (CTA). . .” That statement suggests that we actually had discussions concerning the model that was handed to us in completed form, including the timelines for training. That is not the case.

The evaluation system that the district leadership is inflicting upon teachers was created by a 4-member district professional development team with total disregard for over a year of work and input from CTA members of the bargaining team and CBLT Evaluation Committee. After the district shared this unilaterally developed plan with us at the May 23rd Evaluation Committee meeting, we questioned who directed these district employees to come up with this system. We were told they were directed to create the model, framework and scales by Dr. Maria Vazquez (soon to be the new Deputy Superintendent) and Superintendent Barbara Jenkins.

This system was created without considering any aspect of the minimalist evaluation system model that CTA put across the table on May 18th, with the hopes of resuming discussions. The district’s new system is almost identical to the new Marzano Focused Teacher Evaluation System Model. However, the district added another element, ‘Applying Literacy and Communication Strategies’, which includes close reading techniques and other strategies that are promoted by the district in their DPLCs. It also changes the scales to be more demanding than those in the Marzano Focused model, and it changes names of the scales. For example, ‘innovating’ is changed to 'masterful'. 

Yes, the new model can be called ‘streamlined’ because it has fewer elements, but the harsh requirements for each element make this new model look like Marzano on steroids. The new District model includes much more language related to data collection and analysis. For example, the desired effect for the new element ‘Planning for the Achievement of All Students Using Data’ is: “Teacher provides evidence of analyzing and using data to drive instructional decisions when planning to ensure all students are making progress towards the achievement gap.” Almost every element now has a data connection. This will surely put even more demands on teachers who are already overwhelmed with the burdensome workload and do not have enough planning time to complete mandated tasks within the 7.5-hour workday.

The district refused to bargain the model, the framework and scales, claiming that it has that right under Florida State Statute.  CTA disagrees. Our contract states:

ARTICLE X, Section J. The Evaluation Committee of the Collaborative Bargaining Leadership Committee (CBLT):

1.Substantive changes to the Instructional Personnel Evaluation Manual shall reflect new contractual language agreements in this article. The Evaluation Committee is charged with aligning those contractual language changes to the Instructional Personnel Evaluation Manual.

2. The Evaluation Committee shall also provide oversight of all planning development and implementation of the Evaluation Process creating and overseeing a system to ensure reliability and validity of observations and evaluations conducted by trained personnel.

The truth is that the district can bargain the model, the framework and the scales. Other Florida districts have and do.  When the law requiring an evaluation system first came out, OCPS bargained the evaluation system with CTA. In fact, last year OCPS did bargain the model, protocols, and Instructional Practice Model Scores with CTA. Below are copies of two of the signed tentative agreements that were ratified last year, proving that the District did actually bargain the model. The district leaders choose not to bargain an evaluation system with CTA.

Over and over again this year at the bargaining table, I presented the same mantra: “Orange County Public Schools is at a crossroads. The district cannot recruit and retain enough teachers. The district has a choice. It can become a model for the state, and even the nation, by improving the working conditions by restoring autonomy; removing tasks that are unrelated to direct student learning; instituting a minimal, fair evaluation system; returning planning time; and giving teachers a voice in decisions that impact their salaries and careers, or it can maintain the unbearable working conditions and expect an increase in attrition rates. Why not choose to be the place where every teacher wants to work?”

It appears that my message was not heard.  Under the present harsh working conditions and with salaries that are the lowest of every large Florida district, we question whether OCPS teachers should be called ‘heroes’ or ‘martyrs’.

So what is next? Clearly, all trust is broken and hope for a collaborative relationship with the district is gone, at least for the time being. The May 23rd Evaluation Committee meeting was closed down when the district informed us it would not bargain the model, framework or scales. The district’s Chief Negotiator received a ‘Demand to Impact Bargain’ letter on Friday.

If the district refuses to open negotiations on the evaluation system, including selection and development of the model, framework and scales, CTA will file an Unfair Labor Practice charge.

CTA believes that teachers should have a voice in their own evaluation system and in all decisions that determine their salaries and working conditions. We know that teachers’ working conditions determine students’ learning conditions. If this is your belief, please join us and stand with us as we fight for our students, teachers and our profession. We invite you to join us on today at 4:45pm at the Marion Cannon Center for Advocacy, 1020 Webster Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804. We will be sponsoring a meeting to discuss the evaluation system and other proposals that to date have been ignored by the District. Join us also to celebrate the end of the school year with some food and colleagues. We value teachers’ voices and input and want to hear yours.

In Solidarity,

Wendy L. Doromal

CTA President