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about to be fired in New Orleans - help! Louisiana

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  • about to be fired in New Orleans - help! Louisiana

    Hi. I am a teacher in New Orleans (yes, it's as bad as you've read, maybe worse) and I think I'm about to be fired. My principal has become very, very unhappy with me for doing things like asking for a bathroom break (we're required to go from 10:03-4:21 without one), asking for the resources I need to teach, asking that my class size be reduced from 36 to something more reasonable, etc. As a result of her anger, she's written me up three time (all yesterday!) for things I didn't do. For example, she asked all teachers to turn in their gradebooks, which I did, and then she wrote me up for not doing so. She had my gradebook in her possession, but she wrote me up anyway. She said these write-ups will go in my file, and it seems to me that she's gathering a case against me. My question: what can I do? I've been teaching 6 years and never had anything but glowing reviews. I've never been fired or even had a problem at a job and I have no idea how to fight back. I moved to New Orleans to take this job and I am loving the teaching and being an advocate for my students. Despite the fights, the weapons, the high schoolers reading on a 2nd grade level, the pregnancies, the parole officers, and the total chaos at school, my big problem is the principal and her desire to be rid of me! What do I do?

  • #2
    Covered by a union contract?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      not enough teachers for union

      After Katrina all the teachers were fired and the union gone. Now there is a union, but they still don't have enough teachers in it. So, no, I'm not covered by a union.

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      • #4
        The only thing you've mentioned that is a violation of the law is the refusal to allow bathroom breaks. That is a violation of OSHA regs, though I'd have to do some checking to come up with the case law. And it is case law, not statutuory.

        Hard as it is, when you've got a supervisor that is determined to fire you, they're going to find a way to do it somehow. I know it's the beginning of the school year, but frankly, your best bet is to find another job and get out on your own terms. Without a union to help you, in blunt terms, you're toast. I wish I could tell you otherwise; I agree it's horribly unfair. But that's unfortunately what we're stuck with.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          I don't have any case law re bathroom breaks either but: According to Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations, employers may not “impose unreasonable restrictions” on bathroom use. OSHA realizes that the frequency of bathroom visits can vary significantly among workers due to medical conditions. Depending upon the temperature, medical conditions and the effects of medication, fluid intake or other factors, employees may have different requirements for facility access. That is why there are sanitation regulations, general requirements for workplace restrooms under Section 1910.141. The language and structure of the general industry standard reflect the agency’s intent that employees be able to use facilities promptly.

          I certainly agree that your situation is definitely unfair. However, your best bet probably is to do as suggested & look for employment elsehwere.

          Good luck.
          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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          • #6
            Don't take this the wrong way, but is bathroom use really restricted between classes and on your planning period or is there just not a set block of time gauaranteed as a break? I ask as I also work for a school system and have heard employees complain that we do not provide breaks for certificated staff. It isn't that we do not allow breaks, our policy just doesn't spell out that they may take 2 ten minute breaks a day or whatever. We trust that they will use the time between classes or lunch or their planning period to take care of such things. Leaving the kids unattended for 10 minutes while they are on break isn't an option.

            Even without a union there may be an internal policy for grieving unfair write ups and actions. You might check and see if that is the case. Perhaps the superintendent's office handles this, or HR. In some cases what you may be terminated for is a matter of your teaching contract and or state law. I'm not where I have access to that info for LA but you can google it yourself.

            To be honest though, if your adminstrator is that unhappy with you, your best bet is to look elsewhere. You may not be able to just quit without losing your teaching certificate (check with your state's department of education), but you may look for internal transfers. Is there a reason this person has developed such a dislike for you in so short a time? Most principals are far too busy to go seeking out trouble, especially if your school is as you describe. If you are constantly asking for things that just are not feasible, then that isn't going to endear you to them. 36 kids is a lot but if there just isn't enough other staff to cover, 36 it is.
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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