February 21, 2011
For Immediate Release
The ongoing political activities and budget debates at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison involve very emotional and passionate issues that challenge all of us. These are real issues that have real implications for our students, families, staff, and communities, both in the short term and in the long term. While I’m personally 100% supportive of public education and the rights of workers to have collective bargaining, I’m also 100% committed to the 80,000+ MPS students and their families. Our students and parents have rights too. Our students have the right to be educated and to be in school daily, even during these challenging times. Our parents and community have rights and expectations for MPS to carry on its responsibilities during these challenging times. Therefore, I’m requesting that all MPS employees be present on Tuesday and the remainder of the week so we can resume our primary function of educating our children. But I’m also asking all MPS employees to take this opportunity to educate our students, families and community about these issues, if the opportunity should arise after school, outside of the classroom, or as an extension of the curriculum. While these are very emotional and challenging issues, I do not want us to lose our focus of educating our children on a daily basis in a safe and conducive environment. This must continue to be our main focus.
I am requesting that the MPS Administration refrain from making threats of disciplinary action toward our employees. The use of threats does not send the appropriate message to our employees, nor does it serve any constructive purposes. There will not be any blanket disciplinary actions of employees. District collective bargaining agreements require personal conferences prior to disciplinary actions. We have contracts with our employees, which outline procedures relative to the use of sick leave and disciplinary procedures. Any disciplinary actions administered by the MPS Administration will be considered on a case-by-case basis and follow MPS’ currently established policies and contractual language. I am also requesting that members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors refrain from commenting on disciplinary matters or on any potential disciplinary actions to ensure that there are no impediments to the procedures as outlined in the contracts. While District staff has an obligation to follow contractual guidelines and to be present to educate our students, our employees also have the right to express themselves openly and freely about these important issues within the appropriate contexts and venues.
In addition, I’m asking all members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors to hold meetings throughout the week and on the weekend in their districts and throughout the city to allow our employees, students, families and members of the community to weigh in on these issues. This would serve a dual purpose: to allow us to continue to educate our students during regular school hours daily; and to provide the opportunity for staff, parents, students and community to express their views on these issues in a constructive manner.
In closing, I am calling on all MPS staff, the MPS Administration, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) to work positively and cooperatively together during these challenging times so we can stay focused on our main objective of educating our children on a daily basis.
President, Milwaukee Board of School Directors