Attorney Questions If Framingham Teachers Union ‘Public Relations Campaign Designed To Undercut Opening Of In-Person Teaching’

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FRAMINGHAM – The attorney for the Framingham Public School District is questioning the motives of the Framingham Teachers Association in distributing a letter by the FTA public relations chair to the Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay, the School Committee, and the media.

The Union’s public relations chair submitted a letter to editor to the SOURCE on Tuesday night. It was published that night.

That same night Ilana Wyner, the FTA Public Relations Chair, sent a differently worded letter to Superintendent Tremblay and the 8 elected Framingham School Committee members.

“It is unclear whether the correspondence represents the official position of the FTA. If so, the suggestion that the District “must” meet certain new criteria before the teachers will return to the classroom is wholly inconsistent with the Memorandum of Agreement that the Union and the District spent over 100 hours painstakingly negotiating at the start of the school year, not to mention G.L. c. 150E. We expect the Union to abide by the terms and conditions addressed in that ratified memorandum and the provisions of Massachusetts law,” wrote David M. Connelly, an attorney for Morgan, Brown, & Joy, who represents the Framingham Public Schools district, to FTA President Christine Mulroney.

“If the letter does not represent the FTA position, then we expect that you would publicly disavow any such job action (as required by law and contract), and that you would advise your membership of their legal responsibilities. It is certainly peculiar and unfortunate that there appears to exist such a wide disconnect between the purported sentiment of your members and the work of the FTA as memorialized in the comprehensive reopening MOA. Your clarity on these points is important,” wrote Connelly.

The digital news media outlet reached out to Mulroney to ask if the letter represented the public relations’ chair opinion only, the FTA executive board’s opinion, or the entire FTA. No response was received by the time this report was published.

SOURCE received the letter as part of a Massachusetts Public Records request/FOIA.

“Your intent in publicizing the FTA letter is not stated, although one can assume it is to leverage your opinions in the on-going conversations with the District and force a separate public relations campaign designed to undercut the opening of in-person teaching. I will district engaged in this type of tactic a union might rightfully take offense and engage remedial measures. This District reserves its rights in this regard. Please let me know what steps you have taken to address these critical issues as soon as possible,” concluded Connelly.

Superintendent Tremblay and the School Committee, unanimously, responded to the union’s letter in their own release yesterday.

“While I understand the Association’s advocacy and encourage clarifying questions, the implementation of the MOA and the success of our District will only be effective when we work together, collaborating on new ways to better support staff and the education needs of our community’s children, many of whom have not seen the inside of a school since March 2020, or not at all as is the case for our Kindergartners. All of our efforts have been around a single goal: provide the best educational experience for our students while working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among our school community,” wrote Supt. Tremblay on January 28.

Click here to read the point by point response by Supt. Tremblay to the Framingham Teachers Association.

On Sunday, January 24, members received a Google survey as well as an invitation to an all-member meeting, held on Monday, January 25, wrote Ilana Wyner, the FTA Public Relations Chair in her letter to SOURCE.

“Of the approximately 1,200 FTA members, there were 552 responses to the Google survey and 447 educators in attendance at the all-member meeting. Overall, 87% of the Google survey respondents indicated a belief that, under typical conditions, student learning is better in person than in a remote setting; clearly, teachers want to be back with their students. That said, 77% of respondents said that “the level of COVID in the community” was their greatest concern about returning to the building. In addition, 83% of respondents supported the metrics of a 4% positivity rate and an average of 10 daily cases as a condition of our return,” continued Wyner in her letter.

She then wrote “a majority of the attendees who voted supported motions to include the following items in a list of required safety measures:

● 4% positivity rate and 10 or fewer daily cases, as established by FPS and the Board of Health in December
● FTA and FPS work together to establish metrics that would trigger a return to remote learning
● All educators who can and wish to do so must be vaccinated, with first priority going to Phase 1 and 2 educators
● Mandatory mask wearing for all (except where medically unable), as stated in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) negotiated by FPS and FTA in August
● Mandatory pool testing for students and educators. (Testing only has an impact if all in-person students are included; if families do not consent to pool testing, their children may continue learning remotely.)

Click here to read the full letter to the editor.

In comparison, below is the letter sent to the Superintendent and the 8 School Committee members:

Tremblay has requested all teachers return to their physical classrooms starting Monday, February 1.

Most of students have not been in their classroom since mid-March 2020, when the pandemic began.

Over the summer, the teachers union negotiated a MOU about a return to the classrooms with the district & the School Committee.

When school was supposed to start in September, Framingham was considered a high-risk community for the coronavirus. Due to that, the district started the school year remotely as opposed to a hybrid model.

In October, phase 1, or the district’s highest needs students return to the classrooms.

In November, phase II, of the district’s high need students returned to the classrooms.

The majority of the students about 8,500 of the district’s 9,000+ students were still learning remotely at that time.

After Thanksgiving, and a second surge of the coronavirus, the City of Framingham and the school district decided to make the entire district remote as of December 7.

Students in phase 1 and phase 2 are scheduled to return back to the classrooms February 3.

Students in phases 3 & 4, are not scheduled to return to the classroom until February 22, which at that time Fall II athletics could begin.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176

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