School board denies union grievance on RIF

Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 09:03 AM.

Mark Powell, attorney for the union, argued that has the master contract, ratified initially in 2010 with an expiration of 2014, mandated the district use seniority in RIF decisions.

The Florida Constitution bars state statute from trumping an existing contract, so to not follow the contract was an error by Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton.

“The RIF was inconsistent with the contract,” Powell told the School Board. “The law requires you to follow the contract rather than the statute enacted after the contract was put in place.

“To follow the statute instead of the contract entered into by the both parties is an incorrect action.”

The relief he sought was for the district to return to the beginning and have a do-over on the RIF adhering to the dictates of the contract.

Board attorney Charles Costin said, however, that the board was unable to follow Powell’s suggestion because state law barred them from considering seniority in any fashion – solely teacher evaluations instead – in the RIF.

“If the law says the RIF can not be done by seniority, any timelines are moot,” Costin said, echoing one of the arguments from Jerry Copeland, who represented Norton’s interests in the hearing.

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