Quolke's Corner: Who is Advising CEO Gordon Volume 2 The Million Dollar Mistake

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Quolke’s Corner

Who is Advising CEO Gordon Volume 2

The Million Dollar Mistake   

So many members have been asking in the last few weeks – what has happened to CEO Gordon?  The leader that garnered so much faith and confidence when he arrived on the scene as CMSD’s Chief Academic Officer back in 2008 has now garnered an incredible NO CONFIDENCE vote from 97.3% of members who cast a ballot in a No Confidence vote last week.  Our members do not have confidence that CEO Eric Gordon understands the working/learning conditions, morale, and challenges facing all CTU members and their students and that he treats CTU members with the dignity and the respect that they deserve.  So what happened?  

This edition of “Who is Advising CEO Gordon...The Million Dollar Mistake” will shed some light.

Truth be told, Carl Monday and Channel 19 Action News get credit for not only dubbing this the “Million Dollar Mistake” but also bringing this to the attention of the broader Cleveland community in November of 2015.  The real story is how on earth did this even become a million dollar mistake and who was advising the CEO throughout this process?   What role did the CMSD legal Department, under the leadership of WAYNE BELOCK, play in attempting to resolve/fight the grievances that lead to this debacle? 

So what happened?   Back in 2013, the Principal at Max Hayes assigned a number of staff members to an advisory period and mandated it as a 7th teaching assignment.  Additionally, the principal also scheduled a number of staff for a 20 minute lunch rather than the 40 minute lunch called for in the CBA.  A 40 minute lunch period for an educator, shouldn’t be too hard of a problem for a person to solve.  Needless to say, the Chapter Chair and UCC attempted to correct the schedule and resolve the problem informally but to no avail.  Despite assurances by central office that the master schedule would be fixed and brought into compliance with the CBA - it wasn’t.  At one point, there were people in Central Office who realized that the 7th assignment and the lunch of 20 minutes were wrong and needed to be fixed.  Yet the fix did not come right away.   A Grievance was filed and the Grievance was Sustained. Teachers were to be compensated and the schedule was to be fixed.  Now one would think once “ downtown” Sustained the Grievance they would then tell the Network Leader and the Principal to fix schedule, especially since they realized this had a $$ figure attached.  No such luck--the district actually ignored their own answer, continued the scheduling problem, and refused to pay the staff.  While part of Eric’s leadership team sustained the Grievance, another part of Eric’s team overrode that decision and refused to fix the problem.  Let me say that again – one part of Eric’s team sustained the Grievance (knowing a fix was needed) and another part of his team refused to fix the problem.

In March of 2015 Carl Monday interviewed Shari Obrenski and myself.  At that time we calculated the cost at Max Hayes at around $300,000.  I realize that figure is well short of the million dollars reported - however, Max Hayes was not the only school with scheduling nightmares.  As we explained to Carl Monday, under the leadership of Principal Ed Weber, Cleveland School of Science and Medicine on the John Hay campus scheduled teachers for an extra 1, 2 and sometimes 3 additional assignments.   Mr. Weber’s attitude was “go ahead and file your grievance”.  So we filed a Grievance, and this time WAYNE BELOCK and the CMSD Legal Department, denied or ignored the grievance at every step.  Each day of district inaction made the price tag a little steeper, as teachers continued to teach beyond the limits set in the CBA.  Without a resolution in sight, we filed for Arbitration.

Carl Monday followed up with us as this school year was beginning.  We explained that Principal Weber, once again, intended to schedule teachers with additional assignments, claiming that it was necessary in order to provide the course offerings he felt necessary for the students (although some of these classes in the previous year had fewer than five students).  We brought this to the attention of the Legal Department and provided them with the opportunity to stop this mess before it could begin again.  Once again, WAYNE BELOCK refused to act.  Once again, the price tag would increase.  Mr. Monday did a great job of explaining this in his story “The Million Dollar Mistake.”  But that wasn’t the end of the story.

There was a huge problem at each of the three new programs at John Marshall:  School of Business and Civic Leadership, School of Engineering, and School of Information Technology.  Despite the insistence of Christine Fowler-Mack that the master schedules and teacher compensation in each of these programs aligned with our CBA - it did not.  We learned that many of the teachers in these programs were teaching anywhere from one to three additional assignments each day.  Shari and I met with the Chapter Chairperson, Asst. Chairpersons, principals, Christine Fowler-Mack and WAYNE BELOCK in September in order to find out exactly what was happening at each of these small schools, AND FIX THE PROBLEM.  Once again the problem could be seen but the district refused to do what they are obligated to do.  Grievances were filed. 

Finally, in October of this year John Hay was settled on the eve of another Arbitration.  As part of this settlement agreement, John Marshall and other schools with similar issues were to be compensated appropriately for additional assignments.  Settling the scheduling issues at Max Hayes, John Hay, and John Marshall after so much time had passed (even though every union person tried to work this out in a timely and appropriate fashion) ended with the district making what turned out to be the “Million Dollar Mistake”.

There are people that work at 1111 that have common sense and can see problems and want to make things right in the schools.  There are people that work at 1111 that refuse to do what is right for the schools.  In this case that lead to A Million Dollar Mistake that never needed to exist.  So, who is CEO Gordon listening to?  Stay tuned…

In Union,