Union to file grievance for 3 transferred teachers

June 21, 1992|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

The Howard County Education Association plans to file grievances on behalf of three Glenwood Middle School teachers who it says are being transferred to other schools without explanation.

School officials say only that the transfers are being made for "the good of the school system." But the union says their contract entitles them to a reason when an involuntary transfer is made.

The action comes at the end of a tension-filled year at the school.

Superintendent Michael Hickey, who named principal Vincent Catania to head the school last July, said the new principal has made changes he supports, but adds that they have also "generated a lot of heat" in the school.

During a one-hour closed meeting Wednesday, the staff voted 30 to 15 that they have no confidence in the school's administration.

The rare vote sends "a message to the educational community that there are serious problems in that building," said HCEA president James R. Swab said. "We've had concerns at schools before, but not to this magnitude.

"Teaching is stressful enough without people going through this type of turmoil and being treated this way," Swab said.

Catania declined to comment on the transfers, saying only that it is a personnel matter. Names of the teachers were not released. Swab said all had received satisfactory evaluations.

The transfers were announced June 12, three days after the HCEA met with Hickey to discuss year-long concerns and problems at the middle school. Those concerns included reports that the staff had intimidated and insulted teachers, Swab said. He declined to elaborate.

"Hickey says it's because of the needs of the system. That's no reason. It's inexcusable," Swab said.

Teachers claim middle school Director Alice Haskins told the three complaints had been registered against them, although Haskins denies making that statement.

"It's not a reflection on the teachers at all," Hickey said of the transfers. The three teachers, whom he described as "competent," were among 12 teachers being transferred to improve the school system, he said.

As superintendent, he has the authority to make the involuntary transfers, Hickey added. When he first became superintendent he transferred principals involuntarily, which also stirred opposition, he said.

Swab said the teachers "have no idea why" they're being transferred. He added that the teachers have been "devastated" by the news, which was given a few days shy of summer recess.

The teachers' tenure at Glenwood ranges from four to 18 years, he said.

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