Duval teachers filed grievance against district

16 grievance raised including class size, planning time

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County teachers hope a grievance they've filed against the school district will fix some of the issues they see in the classroom.

Duval Teachers United, or DTU, says the district has violated their Master Teacher Collective Bargaining agreement. They raised 16 grievances with the district, ranging from class size and planning time to interruptions and supplies.

"A lot of the people have to go borrow chairs from other rooms, sit on the floor," student Mikhail Erhayel said. "It's crowded almost every class."

That's how Mickhail Erhayel describes his classes as Sandalwood High School, the most populated school in the district. He says those crowded classrooms present a host of challenges.   

"I have to rush to class to make sure I have a seat," Erhayel said. "You can't get help with anything. You have to figure it our yourself. It makes it harder to learn, focus."  

It's not just Erhayel having issues with class size. In a grievance letter to the school district, Duval Teachers United, or DTU says that's just one of 16 issues they have.  

They say classes are not equally distributed, especially electives in high schools and resource classes, like art, music and PE in elementary classes -- and they say those resource class teachers are not treated as regular teachers adding their classes are pooled or stacked creating huge class sizes.  

The issues aren't only about class size. DTU also says nine elementary teachers are being required to stand afternoon duty beyond their normal workday hours. Some teachers do not have a lunch period and DTU says classroom time is interrupted with unnecessary testing and by teachers having to do cafeteria duty during the work day.  

DTU says they have tried to address the contract violations with the school but they feel like they needed to file this grievance to stop what they call "systematic abuse" of the collective bargaining agreement.

Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he was aware of the issues before DTU filed the grievance.  He says some are isolated to individual classrooms or schools and others were a bit inflated, but the district is working on finding solutions.  

"We always work with our unions to rectify issues," Dr. Vitti said. "In fact we had a meeting over Saturday to work through issues and so most of the issues that were identified in the grievance have already been addressed or are being addressed."

When it comes to class size, Vitti says enrollment is up district wide and they are working to balance classes.  

"We're allocating additional positions or taking positions from schools," Vitti said. "With dropping enrollment to increases in enrollment and things should settle down in the next couple of weeks regarding class size."  

Whatever the outcome, Erhayel hopes to see some changes in his classroom and his mom hopes for changes overall.