Change is not unfamiliar in the Denair Unified School District, where currently the district’s charter schools, Denair Academic Avenues Elementary School and Denair Charter Academy, are undergoing structural changes amidst the district’s fiscal crisis.
The newly elected board unanimously approved revisions to both charters that will restructure the way the school functions at the board meeting on Thursday evening. Denair Academic Avenues, known as D2A, was operating as a quasi-independent school since it was a district dependent charter with a governance committee. The governance committee and the board’s legal counsel crafted changes that maintain the existence of the committee but reduce its role from governance to advisory. Both agreed that these changes will help sustain D2A’s education programs.
“The D2A has had three public meetings and governance gave up autonomy to the district with trust that the board will have school’s best interest in heart,” said governance committee chair Ray Prock, who noted that there was ample time for input prior to the board vote. “I felt it was a very good, very detailed process. No less than seven hours of meetings involved in the end.”
The intent behind the revisions was to ensure that existing teachers share the same seniority and employee rights whether they are at a charter or a district school. Revisions provide teachers the right to be grandfathered in, retaining all of their rights under the collective bargaining agreement and education code. Nothing changes as far as education rights, lay off rights, or collective bargaining agreement rights, said William Schuetz, district legal counsel.
There are revisions that give the district the ability to hire separately contracted employees in order to ensure a flexible system which is not an unusual phenomenon in the district, as DCA employs separately contracted hourly employees.
DCA, an independent study based school that serves mainly at-risk students, has been a district operated charter since its existence. Unlike D2A it does not have its own separate governing body and contains an hourly contracted employee population.
“Some of the revisions in there were clean up, but we made the same exact changes, clarifying changes, to the employee rights section as we did with D2A so those are consistent across the board,” said Shuetz.
Teachers reserve the right to be asked to transfer to the charter and will not lose seniority by working there due to their education code rights as permanent employees. Shuetz explained that the only changes that come into play are regarding separately contracted teachers who are hired directly to work at the charter.