Haverhill Teachers, School Department Negotiate ‘Remote Learning,’ Set to Begin Monday

Haverhill School Committee Vice Chairman Richard J. Rosa. (WHAV News file photograph.)

With Haverhill school buildings remaining closed through at least April, Haverhill teachers want assurances their “rights and benefits” are protected and they have a say in the rollout of remote learning.

Anthony J. Parolisi, a social studies teacher at Consentino School, is president of the Haverhill Education Association.

Teachers, represented by Haverhill Education Association, and Haverhill Public Schools traded proposals after a virtual meeting Monday afternoon. Union President Anthony J. Parolisi said issues include how and when teachers will be evaluated and whether teachers and students have “the flexibility to do what they can and when they can.”

“We’re farther apart than some officials may have been led to believe. We are confident that an agreement can be reached and will continue to work toward it. The proposal we received from the School Committee and superintendent did not seem to reflect our interpretation of the DESE guidelines or do as much to provide flexibility that out students, families and educators need during this difficult time,” he said.

In a statement, School Committee member Richard J. Rosa, who is chairman of the subcommittee meeting with the union, said, “We all agree that we are in uncharted territory, and I am confident our educators will work diligently on behalf of the district’s 8,000 students during this challenging period.”

“I think everyone also can agree that we are fortunate that the district has invested in significantly more technology over the past 18 months, which will allow us to deploy devices to families in need so that all students can access the online portions of the curriculum,” he added.

Rosa and School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti negotiated last year’s contract with the union and are also managing this round.

Parolisi gave the schools a proposed memorandum of understanding that calls for, among other things, providing paid leave at regular rates of pay;” continuing payment of extracurricular and athletic stipends; scheduling of remote work that is “flexible and based on the unit member’s household/personal obligations during the school closure period;” and protections from having remote sessions “videotaped or otherwise hacked by individuals who wish to use their images, teaching videos, etc. for ill purposes.”

For its part, the School Department proposed fixed-time remote learning schedules for grades K-8 and high school. Under a heading marked “non-negotiables,” the administration proposed “every student has one live touch point with a staff member each day.”

All teachers continue to be paid under the original agreement and both sides continue negotiating today.

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