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Dublin: Union alleges district policy 'suppressing' teacher voices

Board postpones conversation until upcoming meeting with livestream
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Stock image.

Educators employed within the Dublin Unified School District spoke out at a recent school board meeting against a district policy they see as "suppressing" teachers' voices.

Members of the Dublin Teachers Association, an organization that represents certified teachers, appeared in person at the Nov. 15 board meeting to comment mainly about a district-wide code that they claim effectively silences teacher views. But because the meeting was not livestreamed due to a previous district decision, the board voted 4-1 to hold further DTA-related discussions to an upcoming meeting that will feature a livestream.

"Our freedoms are under attack by the DUSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Funk. We care deeply about our students, and we are working hard to come to a swift agreement without illegal interference in discussing the best interests of our students," DTA co-president Laurie Sargent in a press release issued by the California Teachers Association shortly before last week's meeting.

Union members said they have previously filed five unfair practice charges against current Superintendent Chris Funk -- details of which have not yet been revealed publicly.

"We are asking management to start partnering with educators so we can come to a strong agreement that benefits our students, without illegally interfering with our right to speak up about these matters," Sargent added.

Regular in-person DUSD board meetings are to be livestreamed, recorded and posted publicly, under district policy.

However, the Nov. 15 meeting was not livestreamed due to a complex presentation on the agenda, according to district officials. The status of the meeting was made known to the public on the district website.

"There will be no recording. The nature of the main item (the "Data Walk") is not broadcast-friendly. All interested parties are/were invited to attend live," DUSD communications officer Chip Dehnert told the Weekly. The "Data Walk" presentation showed insights into learning and education outcomes, mostly to do with the COVID-19 impacts on students.

Featured as the main item, the "Data Walk" was deemed to be incompatible with broadcasting. For this reason, it was granted an exception to the broadcast rule.

The relationship between the DTA and district administration has been frayed at times in recent years, including earlier in 2022 when the teachers were in favor of potentially striking before a contract agreement was reached.

The union is now claiming the district is considering policies that "would inhibit educators' rights to freedom of speech."

"We are here to fight against the suppressing of educator voices and activism, especially for calling out DUSD Superintendent Chris Funk for his illegal actions around member discipline, refusal to bargain, and refusal to provide paid leave during negotiations is illegal, especially when the needs of our students are on the line in this bargain," Sargent said.