JUNE 2 UPDATE: Keene Sentinel Reported on the story: Unions accusing MRSD officials of issuing gag order
CONCORD, NH – May 28, 2014 – In a letter to the Monadnock Regional School Board, NEA-NH raised concerns regarding statements made by Monadnock district administrators to the effect that teachers, support staff and specialists are “prohibited or discouraged from speaking with parents or other members of the school community about school-related matters, and likewise prohibited or discouraged from attending school Board meetings.”
NEA-NH hopes that these concerns are the result of a misunderstanding, as such directives would be against constitutional and statutory law, violate established Monadnock School District Policies, and would not be in the best interest of the District’s students.
“Our members understand their job responsibility of ensuring that each student has a positive educational experience,” said Rachel Hawkinson, NEA-NH Monadnock Region UniServ Director.
“To ensure that each student is receiving the best care and education possible, teachers and guidance counselors, nurses, specialists, and others must have the freedom to discuss a student’s individual needs with parents. This collaborative dialogue enhances a student’s educational experience and leads to a more positive learning environment. By removing this opportunity for dialogue, the School Board would not only violate the First Amendment rights of public employees, but would also diminish the quality of education for Monadnock District students,” continued Hawkinson.
Communication, trust, and collaboration between teachers, guidance counselors, nurses, support staff, specialists, and parents are beneficial to students. The School District cannot encourage such communication and uphold the established school district mission while at the same time discouraging participation in School Board meetings or prohibiting employees from discussing school-related matters with parents.
A directive that prohibits or discourages employees from engaging in conversations with parents on school-related matters, such as a new homework policy, transfer of teachers to different grade levels, or a transition to heterogeneously grouped classrooms, violates current school board policy and ultimately ends up hurting students.
“We strongly urge the School Board to advise all District administrators to respect employees’ rights and to modify their conduct to align with the law established by the United States Supreme Court, New Hampshire law, and School Board policies,” said Hawkinson.