September 7, 2023

Educators Prevail Upon Monona Grove Board to Reverse Votes Against Academic Freedom and Job Security

Educators Prevail Upon Monona Grove Board to Reverse Votes Against Academic Freedom and Job Security Featured Image

After testimony from dozens of educators and days of protests organized by the Monona Grove Education Association (MGEA), the Monona Grove school board voted unanimously to rescind changes to the employee handbook that threatened the job security of veteran teachers. In an unusual move following the September 6 unanimous board vote, each board member also apologized to district employees in front of everyone in the packed boardroom.

In August, without discussing the issues with employees or union leaders, the Monona Grove School Board voted in favor of removing the handbook’s distinction between probationary and non-probationary teachers and subjecting all teachers to the minimum standards for non-renewal of their contracts. The change treated teachers with decades of experience no different than teachers in their first year and eliminated the longstanding provision requiring supervisors to all teachers to work through plans of improvement before non-renewing them.

An overflowing room of educators dressed in red and displaying the MGEA logo criticized the August handbook changes, explaining the negative impact they would have on the school district and students.

Monona Grove High School Social Studies teacher and former MGEA president Jeremy Wallace said teachers would be afraid of making small mistakes and of speaking up on behalf of students if doing so might create conflicts with their supervisors.

“If you don’t have — we thankfully have very good support in our own building at the high school — but if you don’t have the support by your administrator… that creates a situation where teachers are much less likely to advocate for students and put themselves in those situations even though it’s in the best interest of the students,” Wallace said.

Other handbook changes from the August meeting will be reviewed and possibly rescinded at a future school board meeting.