Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful summer and came back refreshed and ready to support both students and fellow coworkers. I know the beginning of the year is a hectic time so I wanted to give everyone a chance to settle in before sending out an email.
I’d like to share some information with paraeducators both new and old. It’s going to be a busy year. We will be electing our new cluster representatives. Watch for more information soon and consider taking this opportunity to learn more about AHPA and become involved in decisions. The office of President and Treasurer will be up for election in the spring of 2022 for a two year term. We will also start preparing for contract negotiations as our contract is up June 30, 2022. We were able to successfully negotiate and ratify our current contract prior to the end of the 2019-20 school year which is something our association had never accomplished before.
Article XII, Section 4
To the extent the work schedule and work load permits, full time paraeducators shall be scheduled one (1) fifteen (15) minute break per day at a time approved by the paraeducator’s supervisor. It is understood by all parties that scheduling and work assignments may not permit any or a portion of breaks on some days. It is also understood that this issue is not grievable and that lack of a break time on any given day can not be used for reasons to leave work early or to come to work later than a paraeducator’s regular scheduled duty day.
There are days when there are unfilled absences and a para may not be able to take a break without leaving students unsupported. We must always put the needs of students first. There should, however, be a 15 minute break written into your schedule. Sometimes a supervisor may ask you to look at your schedule to determine the best time for you to take a break. That is appropriate as you may be in the best position to know when your absence is easiest to cover. You can then inform the person who writes your schedule where to schedule it in. This way teachers and other staff understand that you will not normally be available during this time.
If you do not have a break scheduled, ask your supervisor when you should take your break. If you are not given an opportunity to take a break, you should contact a cluster representative or Gina Uebel.
BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE
Our district, like others, is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. This has affected some paras as busses are picking students up later and they still need to be supervised beyond the paras duty day. If it becomes necessary for you to work beyond your duty day, make sure that you document any extra time that you worked by turning it in to the secretary at your school. The district is aware of this problem and is doing everything possible to come up with solutions. There are no quick fixes as it takes several weeks to train a new bus driver once they have been hired.
YOU’VE BEEN CALLED TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE:
Weingarten rights guarantee an employee the right to Union representation during an investigatory interview. … An investigatory interview is one in which a Supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his/her conduct.
What does this mean? It means that if you are called to a meeting by your supervisor and there is a chance that disciplinary action could be taken, you have the right to Union representation. They should inform you of your right if the meeting is investigatory in nature or could result in discipline and I would encourage you to reach out for that representation. The person to contact would be President Gina Uebel, contact information is provided at the end of this email.
If your supervisor wants to talk about job expectations or discuss a matter of concern and there is no intention of disciplinary action, they will tell you that union representation is not necessary if you inquire about it. If you are ever in doubt, ask if you can/should invite your union representative and they will let you know. Not attending a meeting where you are denied the opportunity for representation (because it is not necessary) is not an option and would be considered insubordination.
If I am unavailable at the time they would like to meet, the meeting will be rescheduled to a time when I am available or I will find an alternate representative.
What can you expect if this happens to you? You should immediately call or email your President. I will get back to you shortly and let you know whether the meeting time will work and that I will be in attendance. I will then schedule a time to talk to you about the issues, if you know what they are. I will explain the need for confidentiality, tell you what to expect during the meeting, what everyone’s roles will be and answer your questions. I will be in attendance at the meeting and will meet with you briefly both immediately before and after the meeting to go over things again. I will continue to support you if there are additional meetings, follow up or a need to grieve a decision. You will also have the support of our legal representation should it be necessary.
AHPA has been invited to provide input into the type of pd they would like to see offered. I reached out to paras last year to collect your input and shared that information with the staff development planning committee that I have been included in.
Elementary Staff Development – October 4, 2021 – You should have received some information on this from your principal. Below is a message from Ann Sangster Director of Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
The October 4th elementary paraeducator professional development day will be a combination of asynchronous and synchronous sessions. The sessions cover a variety of topics designed to meet the varied needs of the Anoka-Hennepin paraeducators. Our goal as we move forward with planning district professional development days is to continue to offer a variety of sessions along with opportunities for choice.
Secondary Staff Development – December 6, 2021 – You will receive information closer to this date.
AM I A MEMBER? SHOULD I BE?
We’ve recently made huge strides working with the district to provide new hires with training and orientation before they start work. With COVID we’ve suffered a few setbacks. Originally, new hires were required to receive the training before they could start in their position. This also provided us with an opportunity to meet with new paras, share information about AHPA and sign on new members. There were no in-person trainings during the last school year and we weren’t given the dates of the trainings held in August this year so we were unable to reach these new paras and welcome them. This means they were not given an opportunity to join AHPA. You have an opportunity to join today. If you have questions, please contact your cluster representative or president.
There are also paras who were prior members who have moved to another school or had some kind of break in employment. These paras think that they are still members when in fact they are not. If you are uncertain whether or not you are a current member, you can contact our Database Manager Lia.Staples@ahschools.us or President Gina.Uebel@ahschools.us .
I have attached information about the Anoka Hennepin Paraeducator Association as well as who your cluster representatives are. There is also a sheet that tells you how to handle issues that come up on the worksite and who you need to contact to get the best information for various questions you may have.
Please check out our website where you can always log in to find a variety of useful information and can also join AHPA. ahparas.com You can also fill out this form to join right now. Become an AHPA member.