Friday, June 23, 2017

Charter school won’t pay teachers for final 2 months, union says

Charter school won’t pay teachers for final 2 months, union says:

Charter school won’t pay teachers for final 2 months, union says



NEWARK -- A New Jersey charter school ordered to shut down at the end of June may close its doors without paying the final two months of teachers' salaries, state and local union leaders say.
Teachers at Merit Preparatory Charter School in Newark are not unionized and have individual employment contracts stipulating they work during the 10-month school year and have their paychecks spread out over the 12-month calendar year, according to the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey chapter.
Some of those teachers' contracts began in September 2016 and run through August 2017, with as much as $12,000 per teacher scheduled to be paid over July and August, the union said. 
The school, however, has informed teachers they will not receive their scheduled paychecks in July and August after it closes on June 30, a breach of teacher's contracts, said John Abeigon, president of the Newark Teachers Union. 
"The bottom line is these people are employees in the state of New Jersey, they worked and they are owed and entitled to this money," said Abeigon, who along with the AFT-NJ is helping the teachers try to secure their full pay though they are not union members. 
Michael Cosack, chair of Merit Prep's governing board, insisted teachers will be paid all money they are contractually owed, despite the unions' claims. 
"We love our teachers," Cosack told NJ Advance Media. "We would like to give them as much money as we can to reward them for the work that they have done." 
Cosack could not explain how teachers will receive the July and August payments, though, and referred specific questions about compensation to Lee Nunery, an independent trustee assigned to oversee the school's closing. Nunery referred questions to the board's attorney, who did not return calls seeking comment. 
Matchbook Learning, the non-profit management group that runs the school, did not respond to a request for comment. 
School documents obtained by NJ Advance Media, including a teacher contract, termination letter and email from the school principal, confirm that Merit Prep informed teachers they will not receive pay after June 30.
The charter school is considering giving teachers a retention stipend, a form of bonus described as "a percentage of their current gross annual salary," according to the documents. However, teachers would not be eligible for the stipend if they missed more than two days or work after March 27, according to the documents.
The documents do not specify how much the stipend would be, and Cosack would not say if the stipends would be equal to what teachers would have received in their July and August paychecks. 
Even though the school is closing, it's still required to pay teachers for the time they have already worked, said Robert Smith, an employment lawyer who reviewed a Merit Prep teacher contract and termination letter at NJ Advance Media's request. 
"I would take the position that these people are entitled to the balance of their Charter school won’t pay teachers for final 2 months, union says:

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