Don’t Go to Sleep On Your Rights

Keeping an eye on your contract is a never-ending job, says NSEA Director of Advocacy Trish Guinan.

That’s because a never-ending array of issues can arise through school board policy changes, clerical errors, unintentional and intentional administrative actions and other sources.

In some cases, seemingly minor issues can begin as molehills and grow into mountains.

“Issues can pop up, and at the time Association members don’t think it’s a big deal. Then they find out later that they should have questioned it, but the opportunity to address the issue has passed,” said Guinan.

“Items like salary schedule placement, approval of professional development hours, etc., all fall into the category of ‘it would have been nice to have known this two years ago when it happened,’” said Guinan.

When local associations don’t watch closely, contract language gets changed, new policies are instituted.

“It may be the result of new, inexperienced administrators who make changes not knowing any better, or they may be trying to make changes on the sly,” she said.

Guinan also advised members not to sign anything they find in their school mailbox without first giving those items a thorough review. That includes contracts, extra duty contracts, waivers of any kind.

“These kinds of things need to be reviewed,” she said.

Local associations are frequently told by administrators that “every school district is doing this.” That is rarely the case.

“Enforcing the contract, watching policies, is a never-ending process. Don’t go to sleep on your rights,” said Guinan.