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Dickinson school board approves $75,000 settlement in teacher dispute

During its monthly meeting, the Dickinson Public School Board discussed various items from ongoing projects to moving forward with a $75,000 settlement sum regarding a teacher grievance.

The Dickinson Public School Board is moving forward with the approval of a $75,000 settlement regarding a teacher grievance. The board, pictured above, approved the sum during its monthly meeting Monday, March 14, 2022, at the Professional Learning Lab.
The Dickinson Public School Board is moving forward with the approval of a $75,000 settlement regarding a teacher grievance. The board, pictured above, approved the sum during its monthly meeting Monday, March 14, 2022, at the Professional Learning Lab.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — After nearly 15 months of ongoing disputes over a teacher grievance that was filed by 18 Dickinson High School educators, the Dickinson Public School Board has agreed to settle in the amount of $75,000.

On Monday, the DPS Board approved the settlement sum during its monthly meeting at the Professional Learning Lab. The teacher grievance goes back to December of 2020, after the complainant DHS teachers stated that they are “owed compensation as the result of increased workload because of the hybrid learning environment.”

DPS Superintendent Marcus Lewton noted that more information will be made available as to how the settlement sum will be distributed once the settlement agreement is signed by both parties and payments are made. He added, “the payments are based on the agreement made between the two parties.”

“COVID-19 created unprecedented challenges, creating opportunities for change and growth,” Lewton said, explaining, “Although I wasn’t a part of this grievance process until recently, I can tell you that we have the right pieces in place to build culture and drive success. We are doing amazing things in our schools, and we are excited for the great things ahead.”

In February of 2021, the teacher grievance was addressed by board members, former Superintendent Shon Hocker, attorney Mike Geiermann as well as a few of Dickinson High School teachers. Geiermann noted how this issue violates the contract between administration and teachers.

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“When teachers get in this profession, they understand that they’re not going to get paid for weekends, they’re not going to get paid for nights and they’re not going to get paid for the work they do over the Christmas holiday. And we’re not here to talk about that. But what we’re here to talk about is all of the extra duties that are assigned to these teachers during the school day,” Geiermann said on Feb. 8, 2021. “So once again, the fundamental question we have before you is whether or not the contract was violated. And in order to answer that question, you’ve got to have a serious discussion about whether it’s a ceiling or a floor.”

David Michaelson, DHS social studies teacher, said this issue is a “double standard.”

"Due to the pandemic, some of the more was expected. Don’t get me wrong, we get it. We, teachers, understand there are going to be more things to do, (we have to) do things differently. However, a great deal of the more, we feel as teachers, has been piled on us — pandemic or not,” Michaelson said. “And that’s why we’re really here.”

For the school board, this settlement was a way to move forward, according to DPS Board President Brent Seaks .

“... This was a process that took place over many meetings over a long period of time. There were many considerations into this. Again, both parties really didn’t budge on where they stood in terms of was it a breach, it wasn’t a breach and how to do that,” Seaks said during Monday's meeting. “The requested amount from the grievance was higher than this amount. This was the amount that I would say that the district arrived at in terms of (how) we felt… (we could) move forward with the district.”

Related Topics: DICKINSONDICKINSON PUBLIC SCHOOLSEDUCATION
Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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