Youngstown Schools CEO 'surprised' by unfair labor practice char - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Youngstown Schools CEO 'surprised' by unfair labor practice charge

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip says he's not backing down after he was slapped with an unfair labor practice charge by the union representing his teachers on Monday. 

"I was pretty shocked, surprised and honestly I'm just trying to make sense out of all of this. I'm here, I'm trying to give raises to teachers," said Mohip.

The issue is a 5 percent raise Mohip wants to give Youngstown teachers. The union contends Mohip used the media to twist facts about the raise and public bargain. 

"As far as me bargaining in public, I think that was the charge, I was just responding to an article started back in January where the union called me out on paying my administrators too much and not paying our teachers," said Mohip.

The union also says this isn't about money, it's about power. In a letter attorney's for the union sent to Mohip, they claim if they open the open the collective bargaining agreement and modify the salary, it would systematically give Mohip vast authority and power under House Bill 70 which includes reconstituting schools, replacing a majority of the bargaining unit's members, reopen a school as a charter or STEM school and permanently close schools. 

Mohip says while he understands those powers are given to him under the bill, he says he's been up front about saying he's not doing those things.

"I will do what's needed to bring about transformation about this district, but I will say some of those things in there are scary, as a teacher I wouldn't want these things to happen, I wouldn't want to see charters. We don't want to see mass firings, I wouldn't want to see a school day that's ten hours or a school year that's 300 days. I'm not talking about any of those things. I'm talking about retraining our teachers and giving them the professional development and support they need ensuring that we have the quality resources for our children, ensuring that our parents have the support that they need so we can all work together. We're talking about community involvement so that we work in collaboration with the city. These are things we all know needs to happen here in Youngstown but if you want to be obstructionist and start getting in the way and really almost fear mongering to say look at what all these things he can do, I've been here for 11 months, look at my track record of what I've been able to do while I'm here and point to something that I've done that hasn't been student centered because there isn't. Everything I do here are for children, everything I do here is to ensure that we can be successful and move away from this government structure to get us out of HB 70 so we can transition back to a normal school district," said Mohip.

Mohip says there was collaboration between the union and the district prior to his arrival in Youngstown to slow down HB 70 and slow down the transformation that needs to happen within the district and feels this is another example of that.

"I'm not interested in slowing down student growth. I came here for a specific purpose, I didn't come here to talk about transformation, I didn't come here to to research it, I came here to do it, it's why I left Chicago, it's why I came here. We have 14 schools that are struggling and I am here and I am building a team and I have them at the ready and we are going to go in and do what's needed to transform this district and we have been upfront about what those things are. We have a strategic plan. There are 5 goals in the plan and we're very specific about what it is that we need to do, how we're going to do it and when. And so part of that, is raises. Goal 4, Objective B, strategy 3, we talk about being regionally competitive with the area as far as our compensation structure, so right now we're not, we're one of the lowest paid in the Valley. That can't continue. We have some of the best teachers working in some of the most struggling, challenging schools. The work they do is intense, they are dedicated to these kids, I am dedicated to them and I want to make them regionally competitive because it's the right thing to do and because we agreed as a community. The union also agreed to the strategic plan and gave approval to it before moving forward so I am executing on this plan," said Mohip.

When Mohip was asked if he needed more power, he says no. 

"I think I just need to exercise the powers that are here and essentially the power that I need is to re-train our teachers, it's to get everyone to build this culture of care within this district, that's the city, the parents, our teachers, every adult within Mahoning County to believe in our children, that's the power that I need. It's the power of thought, it's the power of everyone believing that our children can be just as successful as the kids in Poland or  Canfield or Boardman  or everywhere else kids are high performing, our kids should be just as high performing. I'm in disbelief of this is where we are. I want to give our teachers raises. I spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars this year on professional development and as I said before I'm not interested in professionally developing the teachers of the future of the suburbs. I want to keep our teachers here. It is not healthy to continually turn over our teachers. About 50% right now of our teachers are within their first three years. We know that it takes 7 years to become a master teacher, we need to be able to hold on to our teachers so our students can get the very best," said Mohip.

While the union called Mohip's efforts disingenuous, Mohip argues the same for an email he received from YEA President Larry Ellis stating that while the union would not re-open the collective bargaining agreement, they would not challenge a raise given to the teachers unilaterally. 

"Increasing wages and benefits, anytime you touch those things, those are mandatory subjects of bargaining. When Larry Ellis puts in an article saying that he won't challenge it, that means he knows we shouldn't be doing it but he's just going to look the other way. Listen we've looked the other way way too many times in this district and I am not going to do that any longer. We are going to lead this district with honesty and integrity every step of the way and I'm sorry if that means we have to do things the right way and you're not used to that or you don't want that to occur but I am not going to say okay, we'll take it because you're not going to challenge it," said Mohip.

Mohip has been on the job for 11 months and says the district is not where it needs to be. 

"No, it's not and it's frustrating. We should be further along. But when I have everybody, including my own district fighting to stop some of this legislation that's gonna give us the green light to provide a quality education for a child, that's very frustrating. When I can't give a teacher a raise, I'm scratching my head," said Mohip.

Mohip says he isn't sure where the two sides go from here. His team is now exploring what legal paths they have. 


 


 

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