INDIANA — A three-year-old civil case involving collective bargaining agreements between four Indiana teacher’s associations — including that of the now-dissolved West Clark Community Schools — and a state education employment board is heading to the Indiana Supreme Court.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, April 29, the Indiana Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the combined case of Culver Community Teachers Association, Decatur County Education Association, Smith-Green Community Schools Classroom Teachers Association and West Clark Teachers Association v. the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB.)
An Indiana Supreme Court news release said the four associations ratified collective bargaining agreements in 2018, which were sent to the IEERB compliance officer for review. The compliance officer found that each of the agreements included a provision related to teacher’s ancillary, or supplementary duties, which was not provided for under state statute. Petitions for judicial review by the Marion County Superior Court were denied, and the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the state board’s decision, stating that the IEERB should adopt the agreements in full.
The IEERB in September petitioned the state supreme court for a hearing, which was approved Feb. 21.
On Oct. 18, 2018, the four teachers’ associations and their respective school districts filed separate petitions for judicial review to the Marion County Superior Court, in the months after the state board had rejected their administrative appeals.
West Clark’s petition argued that the state board was wrong in not allowing the teachers association and school district to bargain when it came to whether a teacher had the freedom to accept or deny additional duties as a “Lead Teacher,” although the IEERB found that bargaining for wages for the assignment is permissible.
Language in the original collective bargaining agreement states that “If a teacher is asked to, and accepts responsibility for, writing lesson plans, grading assignments and entering grades for these assignments in the absence of a certified teacher for a week or longer, the teacher will receive an additional four hours of pay per week...”
However the state board’s stance is that whether or not the teacher accepts the responsibility is not something that can be bargained, under state law. It could be worked around if the language was included in school policy itself.
The IEERB denied the collective bargaining agreements of the other associations for similar reasons. The Decatur County Education Association agreement included compensation for teachers supervising Friday detention for “12 students or less.” The state board deemed it cannot set a boundary on the term of the number of students.
With Smith-Green’s agreement, the IEERB ruled that it could not require a mutual agreement between teachers before one could be assigned to serve as a substitute for another. Culver Community Teachers Association was denied for outlining in its agreement what constituted an ancillary duty.
The four agreements were all related to the 2018 bargaining season. West Clark was dissolved as a school system in 2020 after a majority of the district’s voters cast ballots in favor of splitting the combined system into Silver Creek School Corporation and the Borden-Henryville School Corporation.