Education Minnesota/Edina, the union representing teachers in Edina Public Schools, filed a legal grievance a little over a week ago, citing a break of contract for parent educators and early education teachers.

Tom Connell, president of the union, said it filed a legal grievance on Aug. 21 after parent education teachers were given notice that they were laid off days before teachers in the district were supposed to return to work. Early education teachers were also notified at that same time that they could only be offered positions that would not include the benefits of the teacher’s contract, Connell confirmed.

While the number of teachers this affects is between six and 13, the matter is “pretty significant,” he said.

Parent Education and Early Childhood Family Education teachers fall under the category of Community Education in the district, which would typically mean those educators would not be included in all of the benefits that are associated with the teachers’ contract, including the teachers’ union bargaining unit.

But the union reached a deal with the district to allow them to be a part of it in 2017, Connell said. This recognizes these educators as professionals, he said.

According to Connell, the district broke the contract with these teachers because it failed to notify them of these changes – an unrequested leave of absence – before the deadline under the contract, July 1.

Mary Woitte, spokesperson for Edina Public Schools, said classroom capacity in schools is reduced due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, so staffing adjustments are being made to align with reduced enrollment. Woitte said this is in line with what other districts are dealing with.

Parent education programs, which are provided to parents and children together at the same time, are on pause until COVID-19 case numbers and safety guidelines change. Five out of six of these educators have been laid off until the program can be brought back, Woitte said.

Woitte said pre-school classes are still being offered, but with limited capacity for 3- and 4-year-old children. As conditions change, more programming will be brought back, she said.

– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

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