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A misguided decision on teacher representative on Trumbull school board | #Education | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


At a March 11 meeting of the Trumbull Board of Education Policy Committee, the Board of Education members on that committee voted unanimously to recommend the rescinding of Board Policy 9140 at an upcoming Board of Education meeting. A short history lesson: policy 9140 is titled “Teacher Representative” and is specifically designed to give Trumbull teachers an unfiltered voice at Board of Education meetings. The board said their rationale for this decision is based on several recommendations that they sought from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education or CABE.

According to CABE, these changes are needed based on several factors, such as the grievance process outlined in the CBA between Trumbull teachers and the board, the monthly meetings between the superintendent and TEA leadership, the fact that teachers present their work at monthly meetings, and the notion that only Trumbull has this particular policy in the state of Connecticut. It is important to note that CABE does not recommend rescinding board policy 9140.1, which is the “student representative” on the Board of Education. It is no surprise that CABE would agree with the BOE on their request. Not only does the Trumbull Board of Education pay CABE a yearly subscription fee, but one look at CABE’s 2021 Whole Agenda communicates why they would support the silencing of unionized teachers. Some of CABE’s lobbying stances for 2021 include: changing teacher tenure, teacher certification, arbitration rules, and salary scales for current and retired teachers.

And while policies often undergo revision and occasionally get rescinded, they do not get eliminated before the Policy Committee and the Board of Education gets to vote on them. The last teacher report was given on Dec. 3, 2020. The teacher representative has been left off the agenda ever since, missing three bimonthly opportunities to speak to the public. The timing of the silencing appears intentional, as the teacher representative planned on discussing the results of the recent audit in January, sharing new information and knowledge with the board, as well as advocating for a more detailed forensic audit that was proposed by First Selectman Vicki Tesoro to find exactly how almost $2 million of taxpayer funding were misappropriated under the BOE’s care.

While the avenues outlined by CABE do still exist for Trumbull teachers at the moment, it is the collateral damage of rescinding policy 9140 that should have Trumbull residents and taxpayers disgusted by this action. Trumbull residents work hard to live in Trumbull, and their efforts are rewarded with the top-notch education their children receive due to the hard work of Trumbull’s classroom teachers. Trumbull residents deserve to have a teacher representative at Board of Education meetings equally as much as the teachers themselves. Why should the voting residents of Trumbull be told where their tax dollars go only from scripted presentations at board meetings? Trumbull residents have the right to hear directly from the teacher representative and should be outraged that their leaders are muting this vital voice based on recommendations they do not need to follow.

The most disheartening thing in all of this is that Trumbull is choosing to follow the ill-advised recommendation from CABE that policy 9140 is unique to our town as a rationale for rescinding this policy. Trumbull should seize this opportunity to be leaders in the educational world by advocating for other towns to adopt similar policies and not exclude the voices vital to the success of our learners. Trumbull teachers have kept students learning throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so long after the pandemic is over. We love this town and students that come through our classrooms year after year. Our students are your children, Trumbull residents should want to hear our voice at Board of Education meetings just as much as we want to provide it.

Teachers and board members will change, but the damage that the current BOE will inflict on the town with this misguided decision will continue to impact students, parents, and teachers long after their terms are over. Board members who vote for the removal of a formal teacher representative on the Board of Education should no longer consider themselves advocates for teachers and public education.


John Mastrianni is president of the Trumbull Education Association.



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