The Prince George's County school board has yet decided whether to appeal a recent court decision requiring the board to go to arbitration on issues involving the upgrading of teachers' skills, the board's attorney said last week.
The decision came in early May when Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin ruled that the school board could not block efforts by the county teachers' association to arbitrate two past board rulings dealing with upgrading.
The two rulings, made in October 1975, stated that all county teachers would have to take a three-credit reading course as a prerequisite for issuance or renewal of a standard professional certificate, and that all principals and vice principals must teach in a classroom for a minimum of one week every three to five years.
After the rulings were made, the Prince George's County Educator's Association filed a grievance with Dr. Carl Hassel, then the superintendent of schools. Hassel told the PGCEA that they did not have the right to initiate such a grievance. As a result, the matter was taken to court.
The court was asked to determine, in effect, which matters fall in the area of educational policy that is within the school board's jurisdiction and which matters come under the "working conditions" clause of the teachers' contract with the county and must be negotiated in collective bargaining.
When the suit was first filed, the school board's attorney, Paul H. Nussbaum said that in his opinion the local boards have control over the "educational policies of the county and educational matters affecting the county."
"The 'working conditions' clause does not imply that the school teachers can tell the board what to teach and what credentials a teacher must have before a teacher can instruct in the state," Nussbaum contended.
When the school board adopted the two policies in October 1975, Toby Rich, president of the PGCEA said: "The issue for us isn't the policies but who has the right to decide which issues go into grievance. That has to be solved or I fear that collective bargaining will be thrown out the window."
Ironically, a similar issue was raised in last week's school board when the board sought to decide whether to add basic arithmetic to the testing requirement of new teachers. A decision was postponed until the next meeting, after the president of the PGCEA requested a delay so he could go back and discuss the matter with his members.
"We want to have the most professional teachers available," said Rich, adding that it was against his organization's present policy to support measures requiring additional testing.
"I want to go back and see if they want to change the policy," said Rich.
The discussion follows a recent controversy over the graduation from college of two District of Columbia teachers who had failed math.