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A note from Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel on the proposed April 2nd walk-out

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dear Bronco Family,

I apologize for the late hour.

Earlier today the Oklahoma Education Association, or OEA as we have come to know them, released information to the public calling for a teacher walk out and school closure that is scheduled for Monday, April 2nd. According to the OEA, the walk out and subsequent school closure is a protest against the Oklahoma State Legislature for its refusal to provide Oklahoma public school teachers with a raise for over a decade along with its inadequate funding of public schools. All of us will be impacted by a teacher walk out.

TEACHERS AND OTHER CERTIFIED, NON-ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL

If the number of teachers who choose to walk out exceeds our ability to find substitute teachers, I will close school. I will do so each day that you are gone. This is purely a safety decision on my part. I need to know very soon how many of you plan to walk out. You will receive a simple survey in the next few days that will be anonymous that will provide me with the information I need to make a good decision about canceling school. This will be a district wide decision and not a school-by-school decision. As soon as I make a decision I will release that information to you.

We are an “hours district” which means that students and teachers must complete a minimum of 1,080 hours of instructional time over the course of the year to be in compliance with state department regulations. If we have to close school due to a teacher walk out, we have enough “banked” or extra hours to miss seven days of school without having to make up those days. If the walk out lasts more than seven school days, we would have to make up any additional time lost. We could do that by adding minutes to days that we are in school or by adding days to the calendar.

This is really important! Your administration, your Board of Education, and your community all support you. Each of you has to make the decision about walking out. If you choose to do so we support you. If you choose not to walk out, we support you equally.

EXTRACURRICULAR AND OTHER AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

A popular question that has come up as the walk out discussion has taken place is “what about activities and events that are scheduled outside of the contract day?” Can we still have band practice and attend competitions? What about drama rehearsals? Robotics? AgEd trips and shows? Baseball games? Prom? Graduation, etc…?

Much of this is entirely up to the local district while districts must come to consensus statewide on some of the issues. One thing you can bank on: graduation will not change. We will graduate the MHS class of 2018 as scheduled. There is still a lot of discussion about OSSAA sponsored activities as well as other activities and events. Clearly, districts have to be on the same page regarding OSSAA competitions. There is some division here amongst districts. As I can confirm our direction on each of these issues I will pass information along to you and it will be soon. I am meeting with state and other district officials daily. I also need to hear where you stand on the issue of a total shutdown, defined to include a shutdown of all after school events and activities after the contract day has ended, or a “contract day” shutdown; meaning that teachers do not come to work during the contract day as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, but may participate along with students outside of the contract day; i.e. OSSAA activities, Prom, AgEd shows, etc…

SUPPORT PERSONNEL

Unlike certified personnel in MPS, support employees are on daily and/or hourly contracts. If a support employee misses work, leave of some sort is deducted. Once a support employee exhausts all leave, he or she is docked a day’s pay. Whether or not support employees continue to work if there is a teacher walk out is a decision that will be made by our district, regardless of what other districts may or may not do. Our preference is clearly to continue “business as usual” with support employees if a teacher walk out occurs. We are clearing some legal hurdles now and as we finalize our plan; I will communicate this to you. It will be soon.

DISTRICT POSITION

The Mustang Administration and the MPS Board of Education is 100% committed to supporting our teachers as they consider whether or not to participate in an April 2nd teacher walk out. If we are put in a position to have to close school for one day or for multiple days because we do not have enough teachers to safely conduct classes, we will support you. No one will be subjected to disciplinary consequences for walking out of school in protest of the legislature’s failure to provide a pay raise to teachers along with inadequate funding for public schools. Our hope and prayer is that whatever actions you choose to take as a group of teachers will compel our legislature to act swiftly and decisively in your favor. Whatever you do, we will respond accordingly.

LAST THOUGHTS

Please remember that our legislators; Representative Leslie Osborn, Representative John Paul Jordan, Senator Lonnie Paxton, and Senator Paul Rosino have been supporters of a teacher pay raise. These four are not a part of this particular problem. They have been working hard to be a part of our solution. Your encouragement of them is important as they consider how they can continue to support us. Please consider seeking out legislators who have been vocal in their opposition to a teacher pay raise. Be firm but respectful as you make your case. 

If you decide to walk, we will miss seeing you interacting with our kids but we understand and we will stand with you for as long as it takes. If you have specific questions, please ask. Email me, text me, call me.   While we do not have all of the answer now, we will soon. I am very hopeful that the Oklahoma legislature will get this resolved before a walk out occurs. Best of luck.

Sincerely,

Dr. Sean McDaniel

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