June 22nd, 2023 saw the East Side Union High School District Board of Trustees vote 4-1 to approve the 2023-2024 LCAP after a contentious month with East Side Teachers Association (ESTA) opposing some allocations of funds within the LCAP, most notably the addition of an additional administrator at each of the 11 comprehensive schools within the district. Trustees Manuel Herrera, Van Le, Pattie Cortese, and Lorena Chavez voted to approve the document with Trustee Bryan Do voting against. In addition to ESTA’s opposition to certain expenditures within the LCAP, the union opposed the manner in which the Superintendents created and passed the LCAP, a manner that lacked transparency, cooperation, and honesty.
The Superintendents attempted to add more administrators in the previous year’s LCAP. After the move failed, ESTA sought more involvement in the processes of the construction of the LCAP. Associate Superintendent Teresa Marquez agreed to include at least the ESTA President in the analysis and evaluation of data that leads to the allotment of funds within the LCAP. She also agreed to share the LCAP data with the ESTA and CSEA Presidents. Multiple times she even confirmed as such in emails. But when the time came to include ESTA in the analysis and evaluation of the data collected, Superintendent Glenn Vander Zee and Associate Superintendent Marquez chose to exclude the ESTA and CSEA Presidents from the process arguing that they had never included bargaining units in such a practice in the past, as if transparency and cooperation is an undesirable change.
ESTA leaders pushed for more transparency and cooperation within the LCAP during the spring semester of 2023, despite the Superintendent’s refusal. Only after ESTA made a public request at the Board Meeting on May 18th (two weeks prior to the end of school) did momentum build for a public discussion on the merits of district policy and the allocation of funds. But the district administration and several board members still refused. At the May 18th board meeting, Associate Superintendent Marquez became visibly upset at her authority being questioned and remarked that “it feels like we’re giving into the negotiation piece of this which I don’t think we should and it feels like administration, district leadership, is gonna have to be set up to discuss the merits of this when I feel that I have shared and done that on behalf of the system.” Associate Superintendent Marquez indeed gave a detailed presentation to the board, but she had never publicly discussed the merits when challenged by anyone opposing aspects of the LCAP. Board President Lorena Chavez supported Superintendent Marquez and advocated against a public study session, preferring to meet privately with a small group of union leaders, administrators, and several others. Only after ESTA continued to call for a public discussion on the LCAP and other board members pushed for the meeting did Board President Chavez schedule one. However, instead of the normal several-hour study session where all sides had ample time to challenge each other, an hour of surface-level discussion transpired with Board President Chavez actively attempting to prevent debate on the matter, literally stating within the first ten minutes that “I would like to remind us that this is not a debate.”
Not only did Superintendent Glenn Vander Zee and Associate Superintendent Teresa Marquez successfully play politics with the LCAP, they continuously abused the Collective Bargaining Agreement between ESTA and ESUHSD to prevent needed changes to district operations. Repeatedly, the Superintendents claim that items such as Case Management support (and others) could not be added to the LCAP because such an item needed to be negotiated. This following an April 18th presentation by Associate Superintendent Teresa Marquez to SPED teachers where she created a plan to change SPED teachers’ course load to a system where all SPED teachers would be responsible to teach 4 preps (the contract currently does not allow more than 3 without teacher’s approval). When asked why she planned such a thing knowing that ESTA does not support such a change to the contract, she replied that she hopes they will in the future and that, if not, the district will have to change plans. When asked if her current plan has reduced caseloads for SPED teachers, her reply was that such a thing needed to be negotiated.
Ultimately, Manuel Herrera, Van Le, Pattie Cortese, and Lorena Chavez voted to support the LCAP and the additional administrator largely because of their faith in the Superintendents, despite the Superintendent’s dishonest and opaque process undertaken to pass this year’s LCAP, a year when the union’s opposition was quite clear. Van Le had originally supported ESTA’s position on the LCAP, but decided to vote to not support ESTA at the June 22nd board meeting. We hope that, in the future, those board members who voted with the district administration will hold the same administrators, including Superintendents Vander Zee and Marquez, to the standards we all demand in our leaders: transparency, collaboration, and honesty.
Jack Hamner - ESTA President
Thomas Brittendahl - ESTA Vice President