Article Image
Gulf District Schools Headed to a Hearing Following Mediation

Monday, December, 26, 2016

The labor complaint against the Gulf District School system is headed to a full hearing, following an unsuccessful attempt at mediation. The hearing will take place in front of the Public Employees Relations Commission on January 24th.

The two parties in the dispute – the Gulf County School Board and Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton, and the Gulf County Education Association, which is the employee union, recently held a day-long mediation session. Despite the talks, the mediation failed and the two sides emerged without a finalized agreement. Both sides did, however, issue statements.

According to a statement from the School Board, members are looking forward to the upcoming hearing and are confident they will prevail in the end. The union statement focused on the fact the parties had agreed to keep the details of the mediation confidential – which is the norm for the alternative dispute resolution process.

The statement distributed to employees by the school board said the board and the union met with an impartial outside mediator in an attempt to reach a settlement regarding unfair labor practices charges filed September 7th against the District.

In the complaint, the union alleges there was interference with its operations and that the superintendent had overstepped his authority while the union sought information about a controversial teacher scholarship program. The program was created by the Florida Legislature during a summer 2015 special session and awards one-time bonuses to teachers rated as highly-effective on their most recent evaluation. The complaint also alleges that during meetings with officers, the superintendent tried to intimidate officers into backing off a request for information and to keep quiet about the district’s implementation of the program.