Andover Public Schools and the school committee violated state law when it removed time for case management from the schedules of the district’s special education teachers without first negotiating the change with the Andover Education Association, according to a ruling last week by the state’s Department of Labor Relations.

The March 15 ruling said the AEA, which represents the district’s teachers, should have been given a chance to bargain when the change was made in 2017. The union filed its complaint in 2021.

“The AEA attempted to settle this with reasonable accommodations to the district at every level of the grievance and ULP process — even at the bargaining table in our most recent negotiations — but the School Committee refused to even talk about it,” union president Matt Bach said. “The process has lasted several years, and has cost the district tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.”

As case managers, SPED teachers act as a liaison between the student and their families and the student’s teachers. Prior to the change, SPED teachers had 41 minutes per day for case management. Investigators “reject the School Committee’s contention that the SPED teachers had ample time during their schedules to perform their case management responsibilities” following the schedule change, the ruling said.

The ruling orders APS to schedule specific blocks of time for case management for SPED teachers beginning in the 2024-25 school year and open negotiations with the union.

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