COLUMBUS, Ohio – June 21, 2022 – Frustrated by the District’s unilateral decision to remove its members in the Project Connect program from the union against a backdrop of attacks on teachers and students at the bargaining table, the Columbus Education Association will rally at 4:30 p.m. outside of today’s Board of Education meeting.
Authorized under Federal law through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, the dedicated educators in the Project Connect Program provide services to ensure that children experiencing homelessness have access to a free and appropriate public education by removing barriers due to homelessness. The District’s decision to unilaterally remove the CEA bargaining unit members in the Project Connect Program would strip those educators of their union status and contract protections after decades of union membership.
Amy Bradley, a Youth Academic Advocate with Project Connect since 2014 said, “Losing our union status would make Project Connect a less desirable career and weaken our community relationships that help feed, clothe, and educate our most vulnerable youth.”
An internal Columbus City Schools email provided in response to CEA’s public records request proves that the District discussed a transition timeline and unilaterally rewrote these bargaining unit members’ job descriptions prior to any conversation with CEA, a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and state law. The email goes on to say that the reclassified liaison positions will pay “significantly less money than [the current position holders] are currently making.”
“Our students who are experiencing homelessness are not second-class citizens and deserve the same access to CEA professionals as all of our other students” said CEA President John Coneglio. He added, “The District’s unilateral decision to outsource these jobs shines a bright light on the lengths the District is willing to go to deprioritize the resources our vulnerable students need.”
Teachers, their families, and community members will begin filling the public sidewalks outside of the District’s south administrative building (3700 S. High St.) at 4:30 p.m. today. CEA Spokesperson Regina Fuentes will be available for comment during the rally.
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The Columbus Education Association is the union representing nearly 4,500 teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and other education professionals in Columbus City Schools. The CEA-CCS Master Agreement expires at midnight on August 21. With negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement underway, members of the Columbus Education Association are fighting for the schools Columbus students deserve: safe, properly maintained, and fully resourced schools in every neighborhood.