pay back

No back pay coming for thousands of ex-UFT members

Updated Saturday, May 3, 10:51 a.m. — Thousands of city teachers and school staff members who worked between 2009 and 2014 and then left their jobs won’t get any extra money under a new contract agreement between the city and the United Federation of Teachers, even though a new contract applies to those years, union officials said Friday.

And in another cost-saving move, current members who worked between 2009 and 2011 will need to continue working in schools until 2020, or retire, if they want to collect all of their retroactive benefits for that period.

That’s because of the way the new contract has structured back pay disbursements from the first two years without a contract, when most of the other city’s public employees received 8 percent raises. Money from that time are going to be distributed in five chunks between 2015 and 2020. Rather than paying for the raises up front, the union and the city agreed to both kick the costs down the road and spread them out over several years.

Eligible UFT members who quit before the first scheduled payout, in October 2015, won’t get any of those payments. (They will, however, receive the first of a series of salary rate increases.) The city will cut a second pay check in October 2017, a third check in October 2018, a fourth in October 2019 and a fifth in October 2020.

Teachers will still receive smaller retroactive payments for the two most recent years when they ratify the contract, which could come as early as this month, according to the union. All members will also receive a $1,000 signing bonus upon ratification.

Current members will also see salary rate increases of between 1 and 3 percent yearly from 2013 to 2018, and those who worked between 2009 and 2011 will see additional, 2 percent retroactive salary rate increases each year from 2015 to 2018.

But for the biggest retroactive payments, from 2009 to 2011, teachers get cut off after they quit, the union said. A UFT official could not say if this included teachers who become principals and a spokeswoman with the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing city principals and assistant principals, did not respond to requests for comment.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 8.12.27 PM
Credit: United Federation of Teachers

At least 4,000 UFT members, who resigned between 2009 and 2011, according to the union’s attrition numbers, will not receive any benefits from the new contract. Another 4,200 teachers left over the next two school years, although some many have started teaching after 2011 and wouldn’t be eligible.

In the past, UFT members received retroactive checks within months of ratifying their new contract. In 2005, for instance, top-paid teachers received a $5,771 lump payment for 28 months worth of back pay, according to the New York Times.

The new contract’s delayed payments speaks to the unusually large sum of money, an estimated $3.4 billion, that the UFT demanded in negotiations. But it also speaks to the city and union’s emphasis on rewarding teachers who stay in the school system. The contract also includes a new compensation system and bonus program aimed at retaining teachers.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a former UFT president, said on Twitter yesterday that the union would have have “liked it for all,” referring to the raises, but added that there is plenty of precedent to leave former union members out of retroactive benefits even if they worked during that period. 

But it’s still coming as news to many teachers who have already left the school system, or making plans to leave.

One fifth-year teacher who is looking for teaching jobs outside of the city said she was frustrated that she might not receive the back payments.

“I’m not happy about it,” said the teacher, who asked for anonymity because she did not want her school to know about her job search. “I put in the time, just like every other teacher in the city during that period.”

Andrei Berman, who taught in New York City schools during the 2009-2010 school year,  said the extra money would have been nice, but that he wasn’t torn up about it.

“To be honest, I can’t say I deserved it because I didn’t teach long enough to really be that deserving,” said Berman, who left teaching after two years.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.