Neshaminy Federation of Teachers President Louise Boyd prevailed in a harassment charge challenge from the Neshaminy School District this week.
According to an NFT-issued press release, the "battle" began in September 2010 when the school district alleged that Boyd harassed a high school teacher who declined to honor the union’s “work to contract” action and participated in the district’s “Back To School Night” program.
Further, the district alleged that Boyd violated Neshaminy School Board Policy when when she and another union representative met with the teacher to "ascertain if the teacher felt unjustly pressured by the district to attend Back To School Night."
Arbitrator Anthony Visco, Jr. found that Boyd did not harass the teacher, who's name was witheld, on or about September 30, 2012 or at any other time. This ruling, according to the press release, did not surprise the NFT leaders.
“Knowing all the facts, we were 100 percent confident the arbitrator would find in Louise’s favor,” NFT Vice-President Anne Schmidt said in the press release.
Schmidt went on to say that the harassment charge was "erroneous" and "absurd" and that "the district that is doing whatever it can to harass the NFT."
Boyd said she is relieved the grievance procedure is complete and that the arbitrator found in her favor on all counts.
“This is yet another example of what we’ve been saying for the past four years,” Boyd said.
“There’s a reason we don’t have a contract – It is ‘entrenched opposition’ to a fair settlement on the part of the district. We’ve shown in each of our proposals that there are many ways we can reach a contract but they seem blind to those realities—instead they say ‘take it or leave it.’ We’re not willing to throw our membership under the bus when we know the district can do better. We urge the district to stop wasting our time and the taxpayer’s dollars with their endless litany of nonsense,” Boyd said.
However, Neshaminy School Board President Ritchie Webb said that it is the case that the arbitrator concluded that the discipline imposed on Boyd was not to be upheld.
"The arbitrator noted that Ms. Boyd confronted a staff member in a manner that was 'intense' and that 'she spoke in a firm tone of voice,' 'admonishing the staff member not to attend back-to-school night.' The decision also recognized that the exchange between Ms. Boyd and the staff member was about Ms. Boyd’s efforts to maintain the union’s 'working to rule strategy,'" Webb said in a statement.
According to Webb, the school district "reluctantly" accepts the results of this decision, "but remains committed to doing all that it can to protect staff members who complain about any form of intimidation. It also remains committed to opposing any union tactic that harms students as it believes work to rule does."
Webb said that it is his view that the NFT press release about the challenge "is nothing more than campaign literature for designed to make Ms. Boyd look good."
"The bigger issue for the district remains the impasse in negotiations created by the unreasonable demands by the current union leadership," Webb said.