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Jay Classroom Teachers Association v. Jay School Corporation

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 13, 2015

Jay Classroom Teachers Association, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
Jay School Corporation and Indiana Education Employment Relation Board, Appellees-Plaintiffs

Page 1218

          Appeal from the Marion County Superior Court. The Honorable Theodore M. Sosin, Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 49D02-1402-PL-003406.

         ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Eric M. Hylton, Laura S. Reed, Riley Bennett & Egloff, LLP, Indianapolis, IN.

         ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE, INDIANA EDUCATION EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Kyle Hunter, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

         ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE, JAY SCHOOL CORPORATION: Mark D. Gerth, Marcia A. Mahony, Kightlinger & Gray, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.

         Vaidik, Chief Judge. Robb, J., and Barnes, J., concur.

          OPINION

Page 1219

          Vaidik, Chief Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] The Jay Classroom Teachers Association (" the Association" ) appeals from the trial court's determination that the Association did not meet its burden to overturn the order of the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (" the Board" ) adopting, in part, the Last Best Offer (" LBO" ) of the Jay School Corporation (" the School" ), after the parties attempted to negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2013-14, but reached an impasse. We find that under both statutory law and Nettle Creek a teacher can receive additional compensation for ancillary duties, and that covering another teacher's class during the normal workday can be a compensable ancillary duty outside the scope of normal teaching duties--where both parties agreed to the same additional-compensation provision and included it in their respective LBOs. We conclude, therefore, that it was reversible error for this provision to have been stricken by the Board from the School's LBO. Further, because the Association has the statutory right to bargain to establish salaries, we also conclude that the Board erred in finding that the provision giving the Superintendent the authority to establish the salaries of teachers hired after the start of the school year did not violate Indiana law. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's affirmance of the Board's order and remand to the Board.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] The citizens of Indiana have a fundamental interest in the development of harmonious and cooperative relationships between school corporations and their certified employees. Ind. Code § 20-29-1-1(1). Recognition of the right of school employees to organize and acceptance of the principle and procedure of collective bargaining between school employers and school employee organizations can alleviate various forms of strife and unrest. I.C. § 20-29-1-1(2). The statutory scheme governing the collective bargaining process between school corporations and teachers in Indiana, Indiana Code Article 20-29, was significantly amended in 2011. These 2011 amendments brought about a number of significant changes, including a new method for computing teacher salaries. Also the amendments clarified the statutory rights and responsibilities of both school employees and employers. See Ind. Code § 20-29-4-1 (providing in relevant part that " [s]chool employees may . . . participate in collective bargaining with school employers through representatives of their own choosing . . . to establish, maintain, or improve salaries . . . ." ); Ind. Code § 20-29-4-3 (setting forth a non-exhaustive list of the " operations and activities of the school corporation" that school employers

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have the " responsibility and authority to manage and direct on behalf of the public[.]" ) The parties disagree as to the import of these statutory changes.

         [¶3] In the case before us, the Jay Classroom Teachers Association (" the Association" ) and the Jay School Corporation (" the School" ) reached an impasse in their attempt to negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2013-14. Following mediation, which was unsuccessful, the parties each submitted a Last Best Offer (" LBO" ) to be presented at a fact-finding hearing. See Ind. Code § 20-29-6-13 (providing that if an impasse is declared at any time at least sixty days following the beginning of formal collective bargaining, a mediator shall be appointed; the mediation must result in either an agreement between the parties or each party's LBO). The Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (" the Board" ) appointed a factfinder, and a fact-finding hearing was held on November 5, 2013. See Ind. Code § 20-29-8-7 (setting forth the details of the factfinder's investigation, hearing, findings, and recommendations). According to Section 20-29-6-15.1--added as part of the 2011 legislative overhaul to Article 20-29--the factfinder must select one party's LBO as the contract terms, considering the four factors set forth in Section 20-29-8-8. See Ind. Code § 20-29-6-15.1.[1] These four factors are as follows:

(1) Past memoranda of agreements and contracts between the parties.
(2) Comparisons of wages and hours of the employees involved with wages of other employees working for other public agencies and private concerns doing comparable work, giving consideration to factors peculiar to the school corporation.
(3) The public interest.
(4) The financial impact on the school corporation and whether any settlement will cause the school corporation to engage in deficit financing as described in IC 20-29-6-3.

         I.C. § 20-29-8-8. In this case, following the hearing, the Board's factfinder issued his report and order recommending that the School's LBO be adopted as the 2013-14 Master Contract.

         [¶4] The Association appealed the factfinder's recommended order, and the Board held a public hearing, after which the Board issued an order in January 2014. See Ind. Code § 20-29-6-18(b) (providing that either party may appeal the factfinder's decision to the Board; the Board's decision must be restricted to only those items permitted to be bargained and included in the collective bargaining agreement and must not put the employer in a position of deficit financing). In its order, the Board affirmed and accepted the School's LBO as the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but ordered that a provision be stricken that appeared in both the Association's and the School's LBOs, which authorized additional compensation for teachers as follows:

Teachers volunteering to take a class will be compensated per period or block. In the event no teacher volunteers, a teacher will be assigned to cover the vacancy. The middle school teachers will receive fifteen ($15.00) per period and the high school teachers will receive twenty dollars ($20.00) per block. The

Page 1221

elementary school teachers will receive fifteen ($15.00) dollars per forty (40) minute block of time. Substitute priority will be given to the elementary schools.

         Appellant's App. p. 212, 246.

         [¶5] The Board struck this provision from the School's ultimately adopted LBO, explaining in its order that it was statutorily restricted to approving only permissible provisions--regardless of whether the provision was in dispute--and that the stricken provision at issue was apparently meant to apply in a situation where a teacher volunteers or is assigned to cover a vacancy, presumably for a class period when a substitute is unavailable; as such, the Board found that the provision " would allow teachers to be double-paid for an assignment of duties." Id. at 70.

         [¶6] Additionally, the Board, over the Association's objection, determined that another provision from the School's LBO, allowing the Superintendent to determine the pay of a teacher who was hired after the school year began, was a permissible provision under the law. This provision reads as follows:

Teachers hired after the commencement of the 2013-14 school year may be placed on any line of the scale as determined by the Superintendent. After the initial placement of any teacher, the teacher shall remain on the same ...

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