The union filed 127 grievances this week for teachers that had received accommodations this past semester but were denied for the upcoming semester. Nearly 1,200 teachers have had their accommodation requests rejected for this upcoming spring semester.
At last check, just 88 were approved. Whereas the fall semester, the district approved over 1200 requests and denied just 66.
AISD officials on winter break could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Earlier this month they attributed the change to the school's improved ability to handle the virus and increased demand for teachers on campus.
Annie Dragoo, a longtime AISD musical theater teacher had a grievance filed on her behalf this week. She spent the first two weeks of the fall semester teaching from the hospital 'in a heart failure clinic.' "I have an autoimmune disease of my heart; my body is attacking my heart," she explained.
Dragoo also has cancer. Each week she takes high doses of the steroid prednisone and is undergoing chemotherapy. "My doctor says if I get COVID I’ll be the one on the respirator fighting for my life and that I should not go back into the classroom."
Still, that is exactly where Dragoo may go. The district rejected her request and appeals. "I qualify for disability retirement but I’m not ready to retire," she said.
Dragoo says the first thing she did once rejected was update her will. "I’m scared," she told FOX 7 Austin.
Education Austin President Ken Zarifis said, "over the last 22 years of education Austin I don’t believe that we have filed 100 grievances."
The grievance process is lengthy, and the union is accusing the district of trying to drag things out.
Essentially, the process has four "levels." It starts with campus administration and can be escalated all the way up to the school board. A hearing is held addressing the grievance, and a party is given ten days to respond. If those filing the grievance are unhappy with the response, they can appeal to the "next level."
Tiger Hanner, the attorney representing Education Austin and filing the grievances said "to get to the school board we’re talking like April, May, June -- way too late for these people."