Special Update Laurel Bay Spring Break Case

Special Update Laurel Bay Spring Bay Case
BEN HUNTER – FEA-SR General Counsel

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew was forecast to hit South Carolina and a mandatory evacuation order was issued for MCAS Beaufort. Teachers at Laurel Bay were put on administrative leave for the days the base was closed due to the hurricane. Ultimately, teachers and students missed 6 days as a result of the storm.

The Agency determined that the schools would need to make up the days, but it forgave 3 of the days (without explanation). Despite Federal Education Association Stateside Region discussions with the agency, the agency required the remaining 3 days to be made up, one in January and two in April 2017, specifically April 10 and 11, which were the first two days of spring break.

Using spring break days as inclement weather make-up days had never been the practice at any school in any district and the Association filed a grievance. Arbitration of the grievance was set for October 19-20, 2017 in Laurel Bay.  The Association secured its main witnesses and began preparing to present how the Agency violated past practice and the MLA by requiring teachers to work on spring break and not compensating them for those two days. The Association sent an information request, pursuant to 5 USC 7114(b)(4) and Article 7 section 1(b) of the Master Labor Agreement asking the Agency to provide copies of all correspondence sent to parents, teachers and students regarding the base closure, school closure and makeup days, the attendance records for all schools for April 10 and 11 and any correspondence between all district officials and the association concerning the 2016-2017 school calendar.

At the time all documentation was due to the Association, the Agency contacted the Association to state it would resolve the grievance and cancel the arbitration by providing back pay, with interest, to all the impacted teachers at Laurel Bay. The Association reminded the Agency that several teachers used leave for April 10-11 and the matter would not be closed until the agency explicitly acknowledged it was also restoring leave to affected teachers. The Agency then confirmed, in writing, it was restoring leave as well.

All teachers at Laurel Bay will be made whole. 

The Federal Education Association Stateside Region will continue to monitor the Agency to make sure every educator receives back pay with interest or is credited with leave.