TRUCKEE – Teachers with the Tahoe Truckee Education Association (TTEA) have overwhelmingly voted to give their district’s Superintendent and Director of Human Resources a “failing grade” following a year in which pandemic challenges were compounded by unprecedented friction and a breakdown in labor negotiations.An overwhelming majority of teachers recently gave a vote of “no confidence” to Superintendent Carmen Ghysels, who is in her first year with the district, and TTUSD Lead Negotiator and Director of Human Resources Joan Zappettini. The vote shows how significantly trust has eroded with district leadership after negotiations with TTEA reached an impasse and the possibility of a strike loomed until mid-June, when a settlement was reached.
“Our current superintendent has failed to operate in the best interest of students and teachers in managing our district,” said Jess DeLallo, TTEA President. “During one of the most difficult teaching years in our careers, we have had to navigate a relationship with district leadership that was underhanded, disrespectful and unnecessarily combative. Our students and school community deserve better than this. Much like a failing grade, this vote of no confidence is a way of showing how significantly concerned we are for the future of our district and that improvement is essential.”
As they would with a student with failing grades, teachers with TTEA have developed an improvement plan for the upcoming year. Three key areas of improvement include the need to:
- Collaborate with teachers in decision-making. District decisions – including classroom learning and safety precautions – have been routinely made without the input of the almost 300 teachers districtwide who work with students, a continuation of behavior by the district since hiring Ghysels for the superintendent position last year without stakeholder involvement.
- Bargain in good faith. In the labor negotiation process, the district threatened members of the negotiating team – a clear violation of labor law – and disclosed salary offers on the district’s website prior to negotiations, an attempt to create division that also violates labor law. TTUSD has also shown that it has no plan to adequately address employee compensation, despite realizing historic and record levels of revenue once again this year.
“Rather than passing on a fair share of this new money to employees to help them keep up with soaring inflation and the astronomical increase in living costs in the Tahoe-Truckee area, the district has stashed millions of additional dollars into its savings account,” DeLallo said.
- Acknowledge the expertise, professionalism, and contributions of teachers. During teacher appreciation week this year, the superintendent failed to recognize any teachers, despite it being one of the most challenging years in education.
“A year from now, we hope to say we are in a better place with district leadership, that teachers have felt respected for the education experts that they are and that they feel fairly compensated for the hard work they do,” said DeLallo. “As we look toward what is a two-year negotiating process for us, we need our district leadership to commit to a collaborative, positive and respectful relationship with teachers for the benefit of our students and school community. As educators, it is our responsibility to hold Superintendent Ghysels and Director of Human Resources, Joan Zappettini, accountable for their poor performance and help them direct a plan to become the leaders our TTUSD community needs and deserves.”
The Tahoe Truckee Education Association is affiliated with the 310,000-member
California Teachers Association and the 3 million-member National Education Association.