Fairfax County Public Schools will award salary increases to teachers who took a graduate-level course on pandemic-era teaching with Idaho State University, after officials temporarily denied the raises.
The university offered the graduate-level classes at $55 per credit; teachers had to document 15 hours of learning to earn one credit, and they could gain up to 24 credits in total. Fairfax schools regulations say teachers can receive pay increases for taking graduate-level courses and earning credits.
Teachers with bachelor’s degrees who earn 15 credits can see their salaries increase by about $2,000 per year and teacher’s with bachelor’s degrees who earn 30 credits can see their salaries increase by about $3,000 per year, according to the Fairfax pay scale. Meanwhile, teachers with master’s degrees who earn 30 credits can see salary increases of about $2,000 per year.
The Idaho State program was listed by the school system in documents given to teachers as one of the regionally accredited universities whose class credits could count toward additional salary. In emails sent to teachers and obtained by The Washington Post, a staffer with Fairfax’s Department of Human Resources confirmed in March that the Idaho State courses could lead to salary increases.
But in mid-April, the human resources staffer began emailing teachers warning them to hold off on signing up for the program because it was under “investigation” by Fairfax schools. This month, some teachers began receiving emails from Fairfax officials denying their salary increase requests based on participation in the Idaho State program.
The email, obtained by The Post, said teachers did not earn “the appropriate total of acceptable credits (15 or 30) to qualify for the salary level that you applied for.” It also said the Idaho State course credits were worth less — only counting as 0.5 semester hours — in the Fairfax system. Some teachers posted on social media that the school system was unfairly revoking raises, including a tweet that asked the district to fix the problem.
In a statement Friday, Fairfax County schools spokeswoman Julie Moult said the district is “continuing to investigate whether [the Idaho State] courses and the ISU-College of Education’s Professional Development Academic Transcript are recognized as graduate credit and an official transcript by the ISU Provost and the ISU Office of the Registrar, which are requirements of our regulation and aligns with the guidance provided to staff from HR.”
Contacted by The Post, an Idaho State spokeswoman said Friday that the university’s provost and the Office of the Registrar “have sent a formal communication to the [Fairfax] school district reaffirming that credits earned from the Albion Center [for Professional Development] are graduate level and appear on official Idaho State University transcripts.”
Concerned by the denied salary raise requests, leaders of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and the Fairfax Education Association arranged a meeting with Superintendent Scott Brabrand on May 12, according to an email sent to federation members and obtained by The Post. At the meeting, according to the email, Brabrand “asked for time to look into it, gather additional information from us, and make a determination.” The leaders of both teachers’ groups denied or did not respond to requests for comment.
On May 13, teachers began receiving emails notifying them that their salary raises were being granted after all.
“Because you enrolled in these courses with the belief you would receive full credit, [Superintendent] Brabrand has directed the HR Team to honor those credits in full for all employees enrolled in the ISU-College of Education’s Professional Development programs as of May 13,” the email states. “As a result, your recently submitted additional salary request has been approved.”
Spokeswoman Moult confirmed Friday that Fairfax will “honor those credits in full” for all employees enrolled in the Idaho State program as of May 13.