That’s the question under debate in Jefferson County, Kentucky. The teachers’ contract specifies that “Any and all district-wide committees shall have Association representation.” When the district began looking for a new superintendent, the Jefferson County Teachers Association appointed its president, Brent McKim, to the search committee.
The position must be held by a teacher, and McKim has been union president for 10 years, and is on full-time release. Here is the local news story:
This is an interesting issue with national ramifications. In many places there may be competing or conflicting terminology as to what constitutes a “teacher.” However, in this instance McKim seems to have the upper hand. The teachers’ contract specifically addresses McKim’s status in Article 26, Section K:
The duly elected President of the Association will be assigned by the District to the Association for the duration of his/her 187-day contract. During this time he/she will work on areas/issues of mutual concern related to the welfare of the students of Jefferson County Public Schools as determined by the Association. For this 187-day period, he/she shall be considered in an active duty status and shall receive compensation and benefits in accordance with the labor agreement.
This is uncommon wording for a teacher collective bargaining agreement, as it makes the union presidency McKim’s district work assignment – as if it were an instructional coordinator position or other district office. Whatever the arrangement, it states that he is in “an active duty status.”
Release time for union officers is an underexamined topic, even among those who routinely deal in education labor issues. We have scores of “teachers” who have spent decades in union halls, not classrooms.
And by the way: If the union president can help select the superintendent, why can’t the superintendent help select the union’s executive director?