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High Tech High teachers gain community support for contract demands

HTH Rally.jpg
Roland Lizarondo
Parents and students join teachers at Jacobs High Tech High. San Diego, Calif., Nov. 1, 2022. A rally was held in support of the High Tech Education Collective teachers union demanding approval of their pending contract.

High Tech High teachers demanding action on their pending contract now expect a final response from charter school administrators by next week.

Almost 700 teachers and classified workers from 16 campuses around the county have been in negotiations with the Charter Management Organization (CMO) since January. High Tech High is the largest charter school system in San Diego County.

The educators and staff unionized last year to form the High Tech Education Collective.

Both sides have agreed on a pay raise, but union members said they want due process for teachers who are fired using a third party arbitrator. Currently that power is held by the High Tech High interim CEO, Kaleb Rashad, and school leadership.

The union also wants a two-year probationary period for new teachers instead of the three years proposed by High Tech High's CMO.

“We have given so much love and energy to our students and this community,” said Hayden Gore, the union's president. “What we are asking for is honor, recognition and rewards from the board of directors. Frankly, what we are advocating for is simple industry standard.”

Several dozen parents and students joined teachers in a rally on the campus of the Jacobs High Tech High school in Point Loma on Tuesday.

Marissa Eriksen brought her 7-year-old son, Andrew, to the rally. He is in second grade at the High Tech High Explorer Elementary.

“It’s causing a lot of stress on the teachers, to the point that many teachers are leaving to try to find employment elsewhere where there’s more stability and less fear involved in the culture of the school,” Eriksen said.

In a written statement to KPBS, interim CEO Kaleb Rashad said, “our independence, from outside control, has been central to our ability to deliver on what this community expects from us and what we expect from ourselves.

“We believe the HTH school leadership should be ultimately responsible and held accountable to students, teachers, parents, and the broader community for determining who is in our schools, classrooms, and learning spaces.”

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