Seattle teachers union files unfair labor practice complaints against Seattle Public Schools

SEATTLE — The Seattle teachers union has filed unfair labor practice complaints against Seattle Public Schools.

It comes after the district’s controversial move last week to bring some teachers and staff back to the classroom before the two sides reached an agreement.

It’s the latest in a frustrating saga for families and students caught in the middle.

“It is really frustrating, really frustrating to see this play out,” said Cherylynne Crowther.

Crowther’s son, Max, is a 10th grade special education student at Roosevelt High School. Max is resilient, but a year of remote learning has been challenging.

“He’s willing to sit in class and remote learning and those types of things, but he’s just not getting much,” Crowther said.

Crowther is also co-vice president of the Seattle Special Education PTSA.

Though the district has announced it’s launching in-person learning for special education students on March 11, she’s not holding her breath.

“My experience is such that I don’t have a lot of faith. There’s some trust issues even though I really want my son back in school,” Crowther added.

Adding to the confusion, the Seattle Education Association is now accusing the district of going around the bargaining process by deeming some workers as essential and ordering them back to the classroom before the two sides have agreed to COVID-19 safety protocols. The concerns include whether there’s enough personal protective equipment for staff.

“I feel like if they would just — instead of focusing on trying to bargain through the media and through these kind of bullying tactics — they would just focus the energy into bargaining at the table with us, we’d be able to reach an agreement,” said Jennifer Matter, SEA president.

KIRO 7 asked if there was any chance students will be returning to the classroom this year.

“I hope so. That’s our intent,” Matter said.

Crowther isn’t taking sides. She just wants what’s best for her son and other students.

“What our kids are experiencing and not being able to be in a classroom, it sets things for a lifetime,” Crowther said.

SPS stated it is moving forward with its limited in-person instruction for special education and preschool students on March 11. It also stated it is confident that after the facts are heard, the unfair labor practice allegations raised by SEA will be dismissed.