SAISD employees union, district clash in court over Stewart Elementary School

SA Teachers Alliance wants judge to issue temporary injunction

SAN ANTONIO – Lawyers for the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel and the San Antonio Independent School District argued in court Friday over a request to have a judge issue a temporary injunction that would stop a struggling elementary school from becoming a charter school.

The union is suing SAISD over its decision to have a charter school network from New York take over the operations of Stewart Elementary School, a low-performing campus.

The Alliance wants the judge to issue the temporary injunction to stop the charter takeover during legal proceedings involving the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the Alliance argued that SAISD broke state law, claiming that district officials didn't consult with teachers and parents about negotiations with Democracy Prep before contracts were signed. 

"(They need) to consult with the staff from the school so that they can hear the important perspective that the teachers and school employees bring to the table," Alliance president Shelly Potter said. "They are the people that work day in and day out with the kids. They are the ones that know the students' needs."

SAISD attorneys disputed the Alliance's claims, saying that they have proof that district officials met with faculty and teachers twice before the contracts were agreed upon.

The district released the following statement Friday in regards to the Alliance's allegations that the district broke state law:

"We believe that the process the District followed in entering into the agreement with Democracy Prep was in accordance with Texas law. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has reviewed the agreement between SAISD and Democracy Prep Public Schools and has stated that the District was not required to consult with the campus staff. Even with that TEA ruling, the District did consult with staff. Our process has been consistent for the last three years as we have made significant changes to campuses, including phasing out some middle schools and increasing the number of PK-8 academies."

The judge is expected to rule on the injunction Monday. If the judge rules against it,  the charter contract goes into effect July 1.

District officials said Stewart Elementary has struggled for years to meet state standards and having Democracy Prep take over is the best way to save the school without closing it.

The contract between SAISD and the charter school network would allow students to stay at the school or request a transfer. School employees would be given the opportunity to reapply for their jobs or seek a transfer to another school.

About the Authors: