PEM teachers take stand against school board after claims they are “unsupportive… and motivated by personal agendas”

PEM Teachers Threaten School Board

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(ABC 6 News) – Some teachers in the Plainview-Elgin-Millville school district rallied together against P.E.M. school board after stating the board has not been supportive to school staff.

The union representing P.E.M. teachers say they want to stand up for themselves as they believe the school board is “out of touch, unsupportive, and highly motivated by personal agendas,” according to a statement from the union.

As a result, teachers in the union have decided, starting this Friday, they will no longer take on any duties outside of their contractual responsibilities; this includes no longer offering to substitute for each other’s classrooms or any other coverage during the school day.

The Plainview-Elgin-Millville Education Association’s full statement to the media is reproduced at the bottom of this article.

The P.E.M. teachers’ union consists of more than 96% of staff in the entire district.

Some that hold positions with the union say that these concerns against school board members have been ongoing for quite some time.

The district’s superintendent, Darrin Strosahl, says he hopes that everyone can come to some sort of resolution and wants the board and staff to get along.

“In our case, we have a struggling relationship that makes it hard for everyone,” said Strosahl. “Whether you’re serving as a school board member or teaching, they’re both hard positions to be in and they both need to be supported and dedicated to working together. That’s what we’re trying to do, find a way to come together.”

Meanwhile, the teachers’ union has presented demands, including better pay, a dissolvement of the newly established “coaching committee” and a public apology to a fellow teacher and softball coach. Some teachers say the coach has been mistreated by the board for personal reasons.

Every Friday, union members say they will take additional actions until the school board “starts actively supporting out teachers, staff, and students,” according to a statement.

Strosahl says school leaders are planning to meet with union members on Dec. 4.

The superintendent remains confident that these recent actions will not affect students in the district and that staff “will work around it.”

PEM Union Issues Statement

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PEMEA Media Statement

PEMEA stands for Plainview-Elgin-Millvillie Education Association. This is the local teachers’ union of PEM schools and has 102 members. 

Contract Negotiations

PEM teachers have been working without a contract since July 2023. PEM teachers have been negotiating with the district since June.  No agreement has been reached causing both sides to move to meditation on December 19th.  PEM teachers are asking for compensation and benefits that are well below inflation (cost of living increases) and in line with state and local averages. The district continues to ask teachers to take a loss in benefits to receive a basic pay raise. The PEM district has built up a large fund balance (a savings account of over 2 million dollars). PEM can afford to invest in its educators and its students after years of shortchanging both. PEM school district ranks in the bottom 5% in spending per student in the state, yet the school performs near the top — teachers are consistently doing more with less.

Concerns About Coaches Committee

This so-called Coaches Committee was formed hastily and without clarity or transparency. The school board’s website did not even list it as a committee, nor are any board members listed as members on the committee. The school website did not list a public notice that this committee was meeting.  No official resolution, agenda, or even bylaws about the committee were ever posted at the time it met. The committee membership is suspect.  It does not include our athletic director. It does not include a single person that ever has seen the actual coach in question coaching.  It is one of our only school committees that does not include a teacher, parent or community member.  Yet it does include one school board member who coaches for an opposing school.  

There was no due process.   The committee quickly targeted a teacher/coach of 22 years.  The committee asked him to resign, take a half-year suspension or be voted out by the board publicly.  The committee and our administration did not follow the legal guidelines set up by the Minnesota State High School League 400.00 Bylaws and our district policy 403.  We can’t tell if the committee even followed its own bylaws (if there are even any) because they have never been posted.  The teacher/coach in question has never been given a chance to defend himself or was even asked any questions by the committee.  The only documentation presented was two complaints about playing time dating back five years.  

The board appears to be targeting this teacher.  One of the two documents involves complaints about playing time. This complaint came from a current board member.  She has continued to work outside of her authority to harass this teacher.  This teacher is also an outspoken member of the PEM teachers’ union negotiation team and now all of a sudden his coaching job of 22 years is being called into question.