From the Lawyer’s Desk
By Larry Samuel, General Counsel
Jefferson Federation of Teachers
We can’t make this stuff up.
So, here is the setting. A school board meeting in California is about to begin, by Zoom. Before the meeting, the school board members were talking amongst themselves. Or so they thought.
Turns out, the mic was on and the public was already listening in.
And some did not just listen. They also taped it. And one person also posted it on YouTube.
What exactly did the Board members say that was not intended for public consumption?
They were discussing social media criticism lodged by parents. One Board member asks, "Are we alone?" But before hearing an answer, she says, "B---- if you're going to call me out, I'm going to f--- you up."
But wait, there’s more…
Still not realizing that there was a live mic, the president of the school board then complained that school officials were being targeted amid frustration over reopening for in-person learning. "They forget that there's real people on the other side of those letters that they're writing,” she says. "It's really unfortunate that they want to pick on us, because they want their babysitters back."
A third school board member then comments, “I totally hear that, because my brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana, and the clientele were parents with their kids in school. When you got your kids at home, no more smoking.”
The comments followed a discussion with the Superintendent, on limiting public comment to three minutes. "I think that would be amazing," one board member says.
Then, after the damage was done, one of the board members realized the meeting isn't private. “Uh oh," commented one of the Board members. "We have the meeting open to the public right now."
"Nuh uh," says another. But yes, it was.
Then came the public outrage, followed by the apologies, and then…the Board members resigned. All of this happened because no one checked to make sure the mic was off.
There is a lesson to be learned in all of this. For several years we have been cautioning members to be careful before posting on social media, and to be careful before hitting the “send” button. So now we add; in zoom meetings and zoom classes, make absolutely certain that the mic is off if you make offhand comments.
While you are at it, also be sure to turn the video camera off when someone walks in the room, and when you are finished.
You never know who is listening, watching, taping and posting.
JFT Scholarship Opportunity
JFT offers two (2) college or university scholarships. Each scholarship will be in the amount of $500 per year over a period of four years, for a total scholarship of $2,000 each. Children of JFT members, who are graduating high school seniors, are eligible to apply for the scholarships. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meager Raise Offered by State Officials
On Thursday, February 25th, Governor Edwards announced that he plans to include a meager pay increase for teachers and school employees in his new Executive Budget. He proposed $400 for teachers and $200 for support employees.
Being an educator is harder than ever. This year, teacher morale has plummeted. 44% quit after their first five years; those who can afford to retire or leave are doing just that. Fewer people are applying to work in our schools and Louisiana ranks 47th overall for teacher-friendliness.
If we don’t work to address this now, and show our teachers and school employees how much we value their service, our schools will only continue to lose talented staff and our students will suffer. Join us in asking the Governor, the BESE and the LA Legislature to support a significant and sustained raise. this fiscal session.
COVID Vaccine Update
Based on the Governor’s February 18 update, PK-12 educators are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please remember to fill out the district’s questionnaire to state your preference in becoming vaccinated. Many employees have already scheduled appointments and received their first dose. Additionally, you are not required to wait for the district to schedule an appointment.
There is an opening on the Board of Trustees for the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. Any food service employees who are interested may apply before April 30th.
Virtual Professional Development Conference
Pre-register now for the 2021 AFT Share My Lesson Virtual Conference, and you will be entered for a chance to win a virtual learning care package!
Join us March 23-25 for this free, for-credit conference—Share My Lesson’s biggest professional development event of the year. We are welcoming anyone who works with preK-12 students, including teachers, school staff, paraprofessionals, instructional coaches and parents, and offering more than 30 high-quality webinars covering topics like virtual learning, hybrid strategies, mental health and trauma-informed practices, current events and racial justice.
PSRP Committee Meeting
Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 5 PM via Zoom
Email email@example.com to RSVP
Community Outreach Committee Meeting
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 5PM via Zoom
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP
Show your solidarity by ordering your JFT fleur di Lis t-shirt!
Email email@example.com to order.
The next JFT Solidarity Day and Jefferson Parish School Board meeting is Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The school board meeting starts at 6PM at 501 Manhattan.
Continue to use the JFT Reporting Form to document the concerns at your school.
** JFT REPORTING FORM **