Teacher’s union: Norwalk school board chairman’s Facebook post broke confidentiality rules
NORWALK — A Facebook post by the the Board of Education chairman while attending a mediation session between the board and the city’s teachers union breached the confidentiality rules both sides had agreed to when negotiations began, the local union leader said.
Early Thursday morning, Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis posted to the Facebook group “NEXT... For Norwalk In Education,” a short message with what appeared to be images of the unratified contract between the district and the Norwalk Federation of Teachers (NFT), the city’s teacher’s union.
“We have ground rules for negotiations,” Yordon said. “We want to make sure that when we do bring it to our members, we can make a presentation that is factual and objective. Our members need to make a choice and evaluation of these proposals. Any preliminary discussions would potentially undermine that analysis.”
In the post, written from the board’s Negotiations Committee meeting, Barbis said, “Serving on the Norwalk Board of Ed is not for the faint of heart,” and he noted the long hours logged during negotiations.
The post continues: “At this point, it does look like we might come to an agreement. As tends to happen in these negotiations, each side has to compromise.”
Barbis amended his Facebook post and removed photos of the contract by Thursday morning.
“We have an agreement that will need to be ratified by the members and approved by the board. I walked out of there at some point after 2 a.m. and I’m an unpaid volunteer — and got there at 6 p.m.,” Barbis said when asked for comment about his original post. “So I was there for eight hours out of the goodness of my heart. What else is there to say?”
Negotiations began in late June and lasted through July before mediation started in August. According to Yordon, the agreement reached Thursday morning will need to be either ratified or rejected by both the union members and the full Board of Education. If the deal is not ratified, arbitration is slated for later this month, Yordon said.
“We don’t really have an agreement until the teachers vote and the BOE votes. I’m eager to respect the integrity of the process,” Yordon said. “Any type of public dispute, or any type of chaotic element introduced, may tend to undermine that ultimate ratification. It is in both of our interests to get our constituents on board. Bringing things to Facebook is not normally part of that process — it’s a distraction.”
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