The Rocklin Teachers Professional Association (RTPA) has filed legal charges contending the Rocklin Unified School District (RUSD) is unlawfully refusing to bargain and is interfering with RTPA’s right to represent its members.
Teachers first asked, and RTPA has for weeks now demanded, that RUSD bargain in good faith over the effects on teachers of the district’s decision to relocate Rocklin Academy charter school students to the Ruhkala Elementary School campus. The district is planning to add nearly 200 students to Ruhkala Elementary, which involves moving classrooms, expanding campus student drop-off points and creating new safety issues because the increased student body will result in increased traffic congestion and crowding in parking lots and drop-off areas.
“This is effectively robbing students and teachers of space and resources in favor of a charter school,” said RTPA President Colleen Crowe. “All of our students deserve the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. And teachers know best what they need. The least this district can do is to work with us.”
RTPA was given less than twenty-four hours’ notice that the district would share its plan with Ruhkala staff on October 26, unveiling its plan to accommodate the nearly 200 additional Academy students at Ruhkala Elementary. When RTPA asked to negotiate safety, working conditions and other issues, the district refused, insisting that it would only consider bargaining effects after it had adopted the Ruhkala Elementary expansion. The union claims the district’s refusal to bargain is unlawful and the expansion should be delayed until negotiations occur and an agreement are reached.
The unfair labor practice charge, which was filed with the California Public EmploymentRelations Board (PERB), is happening during contentious contract negotiations in which Rocklin teachers insist teacher turnover is hurting students and that RUSD has the financial ability to do more to attract and retain qualityeducators. “We want a fair contract for teachers. We’ve bargained in good faith and tried to be as flexible as possible to reach an agreement, while the district continues to withhold viable options for settlement,” Crowe said.
“Teachers are telling us loud and clear – do what’s right, fight to attract and retain quality teachers for our students, and insist public monies intended for the classroom are spent in the classroom,” she added. “We will fight for our students, even if that means taking on our own superintendent and school board.”
A possible strike remains on the table as the local teachers consider all options. RTPA members voted overwhelmingly in October to authorize RTPA’s executive board to call a strike in the event a contract settlement is not reached. RTPA has pledged not to strike until the completion of the legally required contract fact-finding process. The two sides were certified to fact-finding last week after mediation failed.