“Despite having signed contracts, employees were recently informed that it is very unlikely that we will be paid for leave hours we have accumulated”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns

“Dear PoPville,

I currently work for Community Academy Public Charter School. As you may have heard, it is closing at the end of the current school year.

Despite having signed contracts, employees were recently informed that it is very unlikely that we will be paid for leave hours we have accumulated. This is especially disappointing as the organization continues to take any responsibility; placing the blame on others. Many employees are afraid to speak out.

I am hoping you can bring attention to this issue and that some of your readers might have suggestions.

I have attached the letter employees were sent:

Employee Letter of May 15,2015 (PDF)

28 Comment

  • Amos should be forced to pay you using some of the millions that he stole.

  • Maybe this is why teachers need a union to stand up for their rights collectively. Charter school folks who are vehemently anti-union, where are you on this one?

    • Dang. Shots fired.
      Where’s the money that was allocated by the government???

      • I would assume in the founder’s bank account due to lack oversight by the PCSB. Heck, this school didn’t even get its charter revoked until the AG started investigating.

  • It’s easy to bash teacher unions – until working teachers get screwed like this. Any education nonprofits willing to fight for these folks?

  • “This is especially disappointing as the organization continues to take any responsibility…”

    But, if the organization is continuing to take responsibility, what’s the problem?

  • Since there is no teachers union – because isn’t that one of the “benefit” of charters and such – that avenue is closed. If they are in violation of a legal contract that is the only avenue left I suspect- but good luck with that because you will need it. In terms of the private sector the last people to get taken care of are those on the front lines, in this case the teachers, regardless of a contract which is only good if it can be enforced.

  • Advice would be to get together with your coworkers and lawyer up and insert yourselves into the whole CAPCS shut down process. Because this letter is essentially saying, “tough luck, try and collect.”

    It seems they are still paying for the summer break, so there’s that?

  • This is why we should have good public schools. This charter thing will end up destroying public education in DC.

    • That’s the plan …

    • Because public education in DC was doing SO well before the “charter thing”?
      This charter screwed up, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Charters are an excellent solution for a city that had/has such a profoundly broken system that the only way to truly serve the kids is to bypass it altogether.
      I’m curious what you would have us do with our children, when the options are $25k+ a year private, or elementary schools with damned metal detectors at the doors. At elementary schools!! A third option? Yes, please.

      • They are only an excellent solution if they can manage to stay in business and it is most definitely “staying in business.” While I am sure that many charters are OK administratively, no one really has a way of knowing that because there seems to be little if any accountability/reporting it seems. While I haven’t heard of any cases in DC, there were some charters or soon to be charters in Louisiana (not New Orleans) – not a bastion of good public education state-wide – that were schools in name only. A plan for one was to get the money from the state government under some newly proposed law and just let the kids “learn” though constant videos. The only reason they were stopped is because people started looking at the implications of the legislation and the places that would get the money and everyone was like – um no.

        My point is that you may have experience with good charter schools but some are bad actors and some fail and find problems seem to only be seen in hindsight. It seems that charters can set up and wind down faster than a sale on a house but with less oversight. There are profound implications while they are “in business” and and when then fail. In the public school system there is time – some might say too much – but it gives everyone the ability to at lest not have to rush. That doesn’t seem to be the case for charters. When they close/fail the students that are affected whose parents are left in the lurch and have to find a new school without the benefit of a overall system to see the can get in somewhere.

      • The point is that a charter system can never succeed because the incentives of for profit school boards (and even not for profit ones) are not aligned with those of students, families, or the community. The cost when school shut down or poorly serve the students is entirely borne by the families.
        The plan from the beginning was to use DC as a neoliberal experimental lab to undermine public schools from the inside out. The result was a newly tiered system with the most educated and wealthy now being able to navigate an insanely complex system into a good school, while the “problem” children remain in public schools making them look even worse. The bottom will fall out of this charter school fad in 10 years and parents and children will be left holding the bag after all the public schools are closed.
        Fenty tried to fix the city’s schools and was thrown out (laregly) by a teachers union, who hopefully now realizes their folly.
        Education through twelfth grade should be public. Fixing it will be hard, but it will be the only way to provide quality universal education.

        • “incentives of for profit school boards (and even not for profit ones) are not aligned with those of students, families, or the community.”
          There is some truth to this – though it’s equally true for the teacher’s union.
          The larger problem, though, is the facile argument that since one charter school is corrupt, the entire charter system should be abandoned. That’s just lazy reasoning. There are good and bad charters, just as there are good and bad DCPS schools, and good and bad administrators. Corruption and incompetence should be addressed and rooted out whenever it comes to light, and we should work to include all school systems (no small task, I know). But the “charters will destroy public education” argument always falls on the state of DCPS before charters existed – it was, quite simply, terrible. In many areas, it still is. You can’t expect parents to just shrug their shoulders and abandon the only decent options many of them have. That’s at best naïve, and at worst lunacy.

    • Charters were – and always will be – another way of siphoning public funds from a large pool of middle class workers into the pockets of CEOs….oops, sorry “leaders” of “non-profit” schools. It’s just like the scam that are military contractors, same situation. Give the contract to the private sector and the leaders end up vacuuming up 80 cents of every dollar.
      Charters, like libertarianism or communism, are great in theory but will always be perverted in practice. The real world is messy and individuals are corrupt.

      • So you’re saying that the my kids’ school’s 990s are fraudulent? Have you gone public with your evidence?

      • Yes, because we know that DCPS, the DC government, and unions are bastions of ethics and good governance. Gimme a break.

  • I feel your pain. I, along with 2500 other people, was laid off with a 1 week notice in 2009 due to a company bankruptcy. We were given no severence, no health benefits, and none of our accrued vacation pay. I learned later that paying accrued vacation time was not a right in my state, VA, and it varies by state. It depends on the company’s internal policy. Because the company was laying off more than 100 employees, they were also required to give us 60 days paid notice per the WARN Act, which didn’t happen either. Due to class action lawsuits, I have since received that vacation pay and the 60 day notice pay, but it has taken a while, and it was always in partial payments. I even received a small check last year as more of the company’s assets were sold off to pay old secured and unsecured debts. Getting laid off sucked at the time and for the 7 months I remained unemployed, but we made it through. It helped us realize what’s important to us and really opened our eyes to everyday things that we were taking for granted that many still do not have.
    Check out the WARN act and COBRA for health insurance. Good luck.

  • How would a teachers union change this? Yes, they’re in breach of contract. Nothing keeps anyone from breaching a contract, whether with an individual or with a union and you cant squeeze water out of a rock. If there are allegations that money was stolen, it would require the intervention of the courts to recover. If they’re going out of business, what value does the contract have?

    • A teachers union would be able to sue, or join the bankruptcy creditor’s committee, or pressure the city or the charter school board. A union has the wherewithal to pursue avenues that individual teachers don’t. A teacher who is owed 10 days pay isn’t going to sue Amos’s company to try to recover it, and isn’t going to have any say in the bankruptcy. A union representing the entire faculty, with a combined debt of $700K can do all of those things.

    • Essentially, it comes down to the organizing function of the union. If there was a union, then the teachers’ contracts would be union agreements. That means the union would hire the attorneys to fight for the back wages, which likely would result in a much better deal for the teachers in the end. Of course this is all paid through union dues, but people pay into the unions for exactly these reasons.

  • I know absolutely nothing about this school or the situation here, but this confirms my suspicion that Comic Sans in letterhead is a major red flag.

  • Dang, I applied to teach there for last year. Principal turned out to be a flake and never rescheduled a follow-up demo lesson after snow canceled the first one, despite multiple phone calls. Looks like I dodged a bullet. Sorry to hear they’ve screwed you all over.

  • First they shaft the kids, then they shaft the teachers. The beautiful sound of “the market” speaking.

  • Has someone talked to the DC Department of Employment Services? They should be able to give you an idea if you have any recourse.


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