Did UTLA Union President Leave Campus to Campaign?

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There is some question whether United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) president Alex Caputo-Pearl left his classroom to campaign for the presidential office.

Howard Blume has the story in the Los Angeles Times.

The interaction between the two sides has gotten more heated in recent days. UTLA accused the school district of trying to smear its president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, by improperly releasing his disciplinary records in response to a public-records request by radio station KPCC. It concerned a 2014 dispute over whether Caputo-Pearl, then a teacher, had improperly left his campus to campaign for the union presidency. The Times wrote about the issue when it first arose.

The new information that the district released was that, in March 2014, it had reprimanded Caputo-Pearl and decided to suspend him for three days, beginning at a time “TBD,” or “to be determined.” In 2014, the district had declined to release the disciplinary decision, asserting that any discipline would be confidential and could not be released. Officials took a different position last week, citing case law related to public records.

Caputo-Pearl filed a grievance over the district discipline, which is still pending, according to the district. The union says the district essentially dropped its pursuit of the case after Supt. John Deasy resigned in October 2014.

On Monday, the union filed an unfair-labor-practice charge over the disclosures, accusing the district of unlawfully interfering with the union’s strike authorization vote and failing to provide key public information and financial documents that the union has requested.

The next day, the district responded with its own unfair-labor-practice charge, saying that the union has not negotiated in good faith. District officials say the union has failed to compromise or limit its demands in any meaningful way and seems determined to head toward a strike as quickly as possible.

In violation of labor rules, the district wrote in its complaint, “UTLA has engaged in [a] course of conduct calculated to time a strike for a period where it can inflict maximum punishment on children and parents so that UTLA may extract financial concessions from the district.”

The state’s Public Employment Relations Board moderates such disputes and has the power to impose fines and other penalties.