Kinnelon Teachers to Boycott High School Graduation
Board president said she would hope teachers would want to attend.
With the exception of the chorus and band director and those directly involved in the ceremony, no Kinnelon High School teachers have signed up to attend the high school commencement ceremony on June 15, according to Kinnelon Public Schools Interim Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe.
As a result, administrators will be responsible for checking students' pockets and ensuring a smooth ceremony, as is typically done by teachers who volunteer.
DiGiuseppe said Thursday a signup sheet asking who will be attending has been posted at the high school for several weeks and that it is unusual that teachers have not signed up at this point. She also commented that the teachers' expected absence is in relation to ongoing negotiations between the Kinnelon Board of Education and Kinnelon Education Association, the union that represents the teachers.
"I just hope that the negotiations are resolved, just for everyone involved," she said.
DiGiuseppe said June 30 will mark one full year since the teachers' contracts expired in 2011. For the past several board of education meetings, many teachers have attended wearing green KEA t-shirts.
KEA President Tom Shannon has declined comment to Tri-Boro Patch, but Board Vice President Keith Dama, the negotiations chair for the board, said the board has made attempts to meet with the union, which is now pursuing arbitration.
"We've made many attempts over time to meet directly with the KEA, but the KEA leadership has preferred to meet with the arbitrators," Dama said.
Dama said the board's representation and KEA leadership are scheduled to meet with an arbitrator again this month, but that the entities are now relying on schedules of mediators, arbitrators and lawyers to be able to coordinate meetings.
Erin Gadhavi, a district parent, asked what the board can do to speed up the process, but Dama said the board will be continuing to meet with the arbitrators.
"From a parent's perspective, it would be nice to see this kind of move forward," Gadhavi said.
Board President Margaret Zybrick made a statement at the beginning of the meeting (see video for statement) that the board has not asked the teachers not to attend the graduation and that they are welcome to attend. She also responded to rumors that the KEA members were asked to leave a public board of education meeting where students were being awarded and said it is illegal to ask anyone to leave the board of education meetings.
After the meeting, she said news that teachers would not be attending graduation has spread throughout the community and that students have even spoken about it.
"We would hope they would come," she said. "They taught these kids for 12 years."