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Parents Attracting Name Allies in Dispute with Union



Some of the community’s most prominent personalities are signing on to the parents’ side of the burgeoning battle with the School District non-teachers union, the Assn. of Classified Employees over the union status of certain teaching aides at El Marino Language School.

The latest document to emerge online http://signon.org/sign/culver-city-board-of was initiated by a parent from El Marino, Jeannine Stehlin. It is expected to be a centerpiece of Tuesday night’s 7 o’clock School Board meeting in Council Chambers, where an overflow crowd is anticipated.

“The parents of El Marino are very organized and very passionate,” said Scott Zeidman, immediate past President of the School Board and an El Marino parent.

“I signed because it is the right thing to do,” he told the newspaper.

Among other signees: Mayor Mehaul O’Leary, City Councilman Jeff Cooper, former Councilman and candidate for office Scott Malsin, former Council members Alan Corlin, Sandi Levin, and Richard Marcus, Steve Rose and Goran Eriksson of the Chamber of Commerce who said they were acting as individuals, former City Clerk Tom Crunk and Charles Deen.

Here is the parent letter:


Culver City Board of Education: Protect Volunteers and Parent-supported Services Across CCUSD

By Culver City Parents Have Rights (Contact)

To be delivered to: Culver City Unified School District Board of Education (School Board): Protect volunteers and parent-supported positions across Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD).

We ask the CCUSD School Board to think of the thousands of children within CCUSD first, and write a mandate, protecting the volunteers and parent-supported services across CCUSD to the maximum extent allowed by law.

We ask the CCUSD School Board to fight the threatened grievance and/or lawsuit that the Assn. of Classified Employees (ACE) has threatened to file, seeking to force all parent-funded booster clubs to cease and desist the employment of parent-funded positions at our schools. We believe that this grievance is without merit. It will do more harm than good. It will destroy the programs that are already in place, such as the 25-year-old El Marino Adjunct program, and the Linwood E. Howe program.

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED STRONGLY URGE YOU TO DO THE FOLLOWING:

We ask that our School District give ALL parents at ALL schools the right to fund-raise for positions that are not supplied by the School District, but which have been identified as necessary in our children’s education.

We want CCUSD to insure us that the parent-funded booster clubs have the right manage those positions by their nonprofit in coordination with the site principal (as is the right of any independent contractor).

We want the School District to treat the parents and families of CCUSD fairly. We join together, and ask you to treat us equitably.

We want our rights intact. We do not trust that any "ear-marking" of funds will be guaranteed. We have seen what our own state of California has done with "ear-marked" funds. This would be a terrible mistake.

We believe that parent-funded programs work. In this current economic climate, when more and more funds are being diverted from education, parents have stepped up to fill the gap. Through hard work, Culver City non-profit booster clubs have come up with creative ways to provide necessary workers to the classrooms that our School District does not supply on its own. No booster club- supported jobs have taken employment away from any union member.

We represent parents and booster clubs from Culver City schools. Together we strongly urge you to fight for the children. Put the children first, and do not succumb to this unwarranted power grab from ACE.

In Culver City, parents can set up non-profit organizations and pool donations to provide a better education for our children. For many years parents’ donations have paid for native-speaking adjuncts (at El Marino Language School) to provide vital help in language immersion classrooms, as well as other booster club-supported positions, such as classroom helpers at Linwood E. Howe School. Other schools have similar programs, or would like to start similar programs.

1. The union Assn. of Classified Employees, ACE, wants to take over these programs and force booster club- financed adjuncts and other part-time employees to join the union, and they threaten a lawsuit.

2. Since the same small pool of donations would have to pay for union dues, administrative overhead and higher union wages, our kids may only receive about half of the attention they get now. Parents will lose control of their programs and see their donations pay for very little. Many parents may stop donating altogether, effectively killing the programs.

3. The Culver City School Board needs a reason to stand up to the union. By signing this petition you are adding your voice to ask the School Board to protect parent-funded volunteer programs and services across the entire Culver City Unified School District.

We are about to lose one of the best parts of our children's education: Our volunteers, and our parent-supported positions.

Origin of the Crisis


According to the District, the origin of this "crisis" is the threat of a lawsuit against the District issued by the leader of the Assn. of Classified Employees, Debbie Hamme. The District has told parents that all booster club (parent-funded) positions and other volunteer work by parents that could be seen as taking away work from members of Ms. Hamme's association may have to stop. The parents would then be responsible to give enough funds to the District so that it could hire union members of ACE for those positions.

Moreover, due to union and District requirements, the current paid volunteers are likely to be fired and replaced. Alternatively the current paid workers would be forced to join the union. Because the current wages of the booster club-funded positions are raised 100 percent by the parents – at zero cost to the District – the union further wants the booster clubs to continue to fund raise and send the money directly to the District to pay union employees. Because the unions require that all employees be paid the union scale, the booster clubs would have to raise significantly more money to pay the higher wages.

The booster clubs would be expected to continue paying for the programs, but lose all rights of hiring, control, supervision or decision-making. We do not have confidence that Culver City parents will donate directly to the District and simply trust the District to use the money wisely, that parents will pay any additional overhead and that the District will somehow find the resources to administer and supervise the programs. The consensus is that parents will not continue to fund under those circumstances.

What We Want

We believe that parent-funded programs work. In this current economic climate, when more and more funds are being diverted from education, parents have stepped up to fill the gap. Culver City non-profit booster clubs have come up with creative ways to provide necessary workers to the classrooms that our School District does not supply on its own. No booster club-supported jobs have taken employment away from any union member.

• We ask CCUSD to protect the volunteers and parent-supported services across CCUSD to the maximum extent allowed by law.

• We want the School District to treat the parents equitably.

• We insist that our School District give ALL parents at ALL schools the right to fund-raise for positions that are not supplied by the School District, but which have been identified as necessary in our children’s education.

• We want CCUSD to give parents at all schools the right to fund raise for positions and then manage those positions by their non-profit in coordination with the site principal (as is the right of any independent contractor).

Case Examples

Linwood E. Howe School had created and fund-raised for four in-class instructional assistants for the 2010-11 year and had fund-raised enough for six this year. Under threat of legal action from ACE, the Linwood E Howe Boosters agreed to a compromise, which reduced the scale of the program significantly. Instead of six instructional assistants, the parents had to scale back and have gone most of the year with three part-time positions. Based on that experience, the head of the booster club at Lin Howe is not confident the program will be able to continue without a clear policy from the School Board.

El Marino

The leaders of the 25-year strong Advocates for Language Learning, El Marino (ALLEM) program at El Marino were also told that they could no longer run the adjunct program. Adjuncts are native language support providers, who help the teachers and students in the classroom, in either Japanese or Spanish. They would have to turn over all the money they privately fund-raised to the District, and the District would hire the union members. According to the heads of ALLEM, this would end the adjunct program completely. It would become too expensive, services would be drastically cut back, and major donors would stop their support.

Un-named School

Parents at a third elementary school were trying to raise funds to pay for a special teacher in a new program which is only partially supported by the School District. Now the parents cannot raise money and hire a person in a very specialized area.

Restriction of Parents’ Rights


The problem is that it is so difficult for parents to fund raise, that we could never afford to maintain the positions we currently fund if they had the extra expenses associated with being a District employee and member of the association. Requiring state or federally funded positions to be union members should be applauded – such union membership helps their unions protect school funding at the state and federal level. But no such rationale is true for parent funded positions—or positions in which parents volunteer.

Our District has a strong, rich history of parent-funded and created positions at almost all schools. We also have a culture here where some of our parents volunteer hours and hours every day in the classroom or at the school site. Such efforts should be applauded, not threatened by a lawsuit. This is especially true considering the constant cutbacks forced by the state budget mess.

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