About 100 Prince George's County teachers tried yesterday to take their campaign for a binding arbitration clause in their new contract to school board president Susan Bieniasz at home.
But when the teachers arrived at Bieniasz's New Carrollton home, she and her 12-year-old son were leaving. Bieniasz told the group she had a meeting to attend.
"Unfortunately the teachers didn't tell me they were coming," Bieniasz said. "If I had known . . . I would have invited them in for coffee."
Although a patrol car was dispatched to Bieniasz's house, the group dispersed without incident.
But the school board president indicated she thought the teachers were knocking on the wrong door.
"If the voters feel it is an issue the school board should give on, then I think the board will listen," Bieniasz said. The binding arbitration clause is considered the major stumbling block to a new contract with the teachers, whose pact with the school board expired Aug. 31.
The teachers' union had agreed to a new contract without any cost-of-living raises, based on the expectation that the binding arbitration be included. Two weeks before the old pact was to expire, the school board voted against including arbitration.
No formal talks between the school board and the teachers are under way. The school board voted last week to implement interim work rules, maintaining the old contract's pay scales but placing some contractual items, such as sick leave, grievances, teacher assignments and transfers, at the discretion of school Superintendent Edward J. Feeney.
Earlier yesterday the teacher representative council voted to continue radio advertising and a petition drive among voters to show support for their position.
Although there was support for a teachers' strike, illegal under Maryland law, a possible "work-to-rule" slowdown was more widely backed. Action on the proposal was postponed until next month.