SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Despite school starting for students on Tuesday, the conflict between the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) continued on Monday.
Mediation efforts fell through Friday, and on Monday morning, SCUSD sent cease and desist letter in an attempt to get the teachers union plan in line with the school district’s plan.
SCUSD administrators held a Zoom press conference on Monday afternoon to clear up the confusion.
“I want to remind everyone that we have over 70 schools, and it is absolutely critical that our families receive and depend on an official schedule from their school - one that is supported and not contradicted from messaging by any of our labor partners,” said SCUSD superintendent Jorge Aguilar.
Jessie Ryan, SCUSD board president, explained why the school district wanted a uniform plan in place.
“In these extraordinary circumstances, we need clearer guardrails around expectations for high-quality student learning,” Ryan said. “I think that without that, what we see is the potential for variance from school site to school site. And the reality is, we want teachers to continue to do what they do best, which is connect with our students, but we also want to ensure that it’s aligned with learning standards."
SCUSD administrators said regulations like Senate Bill 98 demand synchronous learning each day. As of Monday, the SCTA teacher’s union was telling its members to ignore the district’s learning plan.
“My sincere hope is that we will not see the kind of variation in alternate schedules that SCTA has indicated to its teachers that they can outline on their own,” said Agular. “But it’s exactly why I issued the cease and desist letter.”
Teachers held a press conference of their own on Monday to explain their position.
“Prior to this weekend, our teachers and administrators... sat down virtually together and created schedules that worked for our schools,” said Ingrid Hutchinson, a second grade teacher at Golden Empire Elementary School in Sacramento. “And then Saturday, those schedules were changed, and we were notified hours after the parents were notified.”
She said this left many teachers feeling disheartened.
“As teachers, we’re very frustrated by lack of faith in our professional judgement,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve being given no discretion on how to best serve our students, and we’re being told to make it one size fits all when we have a completely diverse population that we’re working with.”
SCUSD administrators adamantly oppose this one-size-fits-all characterization, instead calling it “guardrails” with room for flexibility as the need presents itself.
David Fisher, president of the SCTA, said teachers are used to making the schedules.
“Our schedules have always been developed, at least for the past 50 years, by the teachers and the site administrators,” Fisher said. “That’s in our contract. That’s how it’s always been, so any attempt to do something different is a violation of our contract.”
The persisting disagreement has left many parents still asking what to expect on the first day of school
“At Luther Burbank, after the district sent out three different start times to our parents and families on Saturday, we met again as a staff and we voted unanimously to go forward with our start time - the schedule that we had developed as a school community to best meet the needs of our kids. It was unanimous," said Shana Just, teacher at Luther Burbank High School.
Just added that teachers messaged their families and posted start times based on our plan into their google classrooms to ensure students know when to get online.
"So there won’t be any confusion there, we’ll message them again," she said. "There’s another message going out today with us and there will be another message going out tomorrow morning.”
Ingrid Hutchinson had some advice for parents.
“Different school sites will have different start times according to what staff has determined is the best start time for their community,” Hutchinson said. “My school will be starting at 8 o’clock, but I do suggest to all parents that they should go on to whatever communication their teachers are providing so they can get a clear understanding of what the schedule will be for their children.”