Denver School Board Votes to Give Teachers at Innovation Schools More Protections

In a split vote at the end of March, The Denver Public Schools Board of Education voted to bring innovation schools policies toward teachers more in line with other DPS schools. Previously, innovation schools had more ability to waive sections of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association contract.

The new policy still allows waivers on licensure for non-core content subjects and allows the superintendent to work with innovation schools and propose innovation plans that “provide rights that are greater than what is provided for in the DCTA agreement (e.g. additional stipends, more planning time etc.),” according to the policy language.

The proposal underwent several revisions since it was first introduced in January, including removing specifics that required no more than a 40 hour work week and banned “busywork” and non-teaching duties. The final language was more broad, including language such as “supportive working environments.”

While a few board members expressed a desire for more discussion and to delay the vote, others responded that the multimonth process was sufficient. The policy passed 5-2 with Vice President Tay Anderson, who serves at-large, and Board Secretary Michelle Quattlebaum, who represents Northeast Denver, voting opposed.

District 5 board member Rev. Bradley Laurvick, who represents North and West Denver, including the Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea communities,  shared the following statement with The G.E.S. Gazette:

Teachers have had to work very hard, for a very long time, to secure worker rights. I got onto the school board after having been an active supporter of the strike just a few years ago, advocating for and protecting those rights. The Executive Limitations the board considered focused on these rights.

What we addressed is that teachers no longer have to waive away rights like arbitration, the ability to earn nonprobationary status, and other protections afforded them by their hard won contract.

This will not affect the creativity of innovation plans, in fact I visited every innovation school in my district to look for any nuances that we need to adjust to make sure day-to-day innovation is not negatively affected; the superintendent is committed to working with schools to support them.

I appreciate the chance to share more clarity around this, as there certainly has been a lot of anxiety–none of us want to see the amazing programs innovation has allowed be harmed.

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