CHUH Schools Plan to Use Questionable Third-Party Vendors and to Stop Special Education During Strike

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2020
Contact: Karen Rego, CHTU President, 216-321-0020, krego@chtu.org 
Neil Bhaerman, OFT Communications Director, 412-266-4899, nbhaerman@oft-aft.org

CHUH Schools Plan to Use Questionable Third-Party Vendors and to Stop Special Education During Strike  

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH — Members of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) are highlighting deficiencies with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District’s plan to provide education to students when teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses and other education professionals begin their strike on Wednesday, December 2. The union published a summary of their concerns on their website today
 
The district has failed to make any plans to continue special education classes or related services during the strike. In a recent communication to parents of affected students, they wrote, “The District has not been able to secure substitutes licensed to provide special education and/or related services.” They also added that, “it is not expected that the special education and/or related services will resume until the 795 Union rescinds its strike notice or the strike ends.”
 
“The teachers, intervention specialists, and other CHTU members who work with our special education students are irreplaceable, so we are not surprised that our district is unable to fill these needs without us” said Karen Rego, the local union President. “What is surprising and outrageous is that the district seems to not even be trying to find an alternate way to keep our students supported through this strike.”
 
“We are urging our Board to return to the table and negotiate a new fair contract, so we can keep advancing quality education in our district,” said Tiffiny Underhile, an 8th grade science teacher at Monticello Middle School. “We’re going on strike, but our Board of Education are the ones who walked away from the table by prematurely declaring an impasse and unilaterally imposing a new contract.” 
 
Remaining students in grades K-8 will be enrolled in Edmentum Exact Path for remote learning and students in grades 9-12 will be enrolled in Edgenuity for remote learning. Edmentum and Edgenuity are both private equity-owned credit recovery providers that have pivoted to full-time virtual instruction to enhance their profits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
The fact sheet published by the union lists multiple school districts that have had problems with the Edgenuity platform, either because it is too easy for students to cheat with or because students, parents, and teachers found it ineffective and tedious. Edmentum was recently booted from the Westerville, Ohio public schools after less than a week in use because, according to district spokeswoman, Charlie Boss, “It wasn’t meeting expectations of what we were promised.” 
 
“During the pandemic, I’ve seen my colleagues go above and beyond to provide consistency and engagement for students during a time of social isolation,” said Josephine Shelton-Townes, a social worker in the school district. “Teachers have worked additional hours to be available for students and parents, have held safely distanced playground play dates, and have hand-delivered materials to students. Nurses in the district have made home visits and arranged additional clinic days and locations to serve more families, and I and other social workers are facilitating support to students' families with food resources, aid for utilities bills, health care options, and counseling support services. These are things that can’t be replicated with Edgenuity and Edmentum.”
 
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The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) represents 500 teachers, counselors, school nurses, and other school support professionals, united to support quality education in our community. CHTU is affiliated with the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.