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Turlock teachers triumph over former Crowell principal

It has been over a year since six teachers filed contract grievances against former Crowell Elementary School principal Linda Alaniz after they were involuntarily reassigned to teach different grade levels, but their efforts have finally seen a result.

These six teachers were only half of the individuals—and roughly one-third of the school’s teaching staff—that faced involuntary reassignments after Alaniz ignored the local practice of allowing the teachers to determine who would be reassigned to the two open positions at the time. 

Collectively, these teachers breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday after a labor arbitrator found that there were no permissible grounds for changing teachers’ job assignments, effectively meaning that they will all be returning to their original and preferred grade level assignments in the fall.

“It was a bad move for students, having teachers arbitrarily flip-flopped from one grade level to another. This rights that wrong,” said Turlock Teachers Association President Julie Shipman. “It was disruptive academically and professionally.”

“It took courage for the teachers to stand up and file grievances. I’m proud of them for doing that and following through the process,” continued Shipman.

Not only were these forced reassignments detrimental to students, but also to teachers. Taken off guard, many did not have experience teaching in their new grade levels and struggled to prepare lessons that aligned with Common Core State Standards.

Following the arbitrator’s decision, which holds the Turlock Unified School District accountable, it is critical for administrators to act in accordance with negotiated agreements and establish personnel decisions on sound educational factors.

“And that means that teacher experience needs to be factored in,” said Shipman.

According to Shipman, TTA’s job is to ensure that students are getting educators who are teaching at grade levels they are both knowledgeable and passionate in and teaching lessons they have perfected over time. With some teachers, this can mean decades of experience.

Since these grievances have been filed, Alaniz has been moved to Turlock Adult School, where she is now serving as the school’s assistant principal. As a result, Crowell has welcomed new principal Margaret Osmer, as well as new assistant principal Angela Freeman.