School board rejects Rosh Hashanah grievance

Teachers' union grievance rejected 2-1 by subcommittee

By Ted Hayes
Posted 7/1/21

Members of a Bristol Warren Regional School Committee subcommittee on Tuesday dismissed a grievance filed by the teachers' union protesting the opening of school this coming fall on Tuesday, Sept. 7. …

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School board rejects Rosh Hashanah grievance

Teachers' union grievance rejected 2-1 by subcommittee

Posted

Members of a Bristol Warren Regional School Committee subcommittee on Tuesday dismissed a grievance filed by the teachers' union protesting the opening of school this coming fall on Tuesday, Sept. 7. That date is Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holy day.

The grievance was filed by the Bristol Warren Education Association. It followed a petition drive started last month by a Kickemuit Middle School teacher, who protested the district's May decision to set Sept. 7 as the starting day of school. In a follow-up meeting on the matter in mid-June, school committee members voted to not advance member Nicky Piper's motion to reconsider that date. Her motion failed 5-4.

On Wednesday, the personnel/contract negotiations subcommittee's decision to dismiss the grievance was similarly split. The three-member subcommittee voted 2-1, with committee chairwoman Marge McBride and Victor Cabral voting to dismiss. Subcommittee member Erin Schofield of Warren voted to uphold the grievance.

"True to form, a majority of school committee members failed to listen to their school community," Stephanie DeSilva Mandeville, communication director of the National Education Association of Rhode Island, said in a statement following the meeting.

“While moving the first day of school is an easy fix, the school committee instead has chosen to encourage teachers to take that crucial first day of school off for religious observance. The first day of school is such an important day; it sets the tone for the year and gives teachers and students the opportunity to bond — which after the school year we’ve just endured — is critical. It is not pedagogically sound and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and disregard for the needs of our school community."

A person who answered the phone at Ms. McBride's residence said she was unavailable to comment. She did not immediately return the phone call.

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