The City Council unanimously approved a motion sponsored by Councillors Jessica Giannino and Joanne McKenna that Mayor Brian Arrigo request the Revere Public Schools to “reinstate three educators who were punished for union activity.”
Arrigo, as mayor, serves as chair of the Revere School Committee.
Giannino began her remarks by stating that “ordinarily I do not get involved in issues of the School Committee.”
“However, this is a totally different issue. This is an issue where employees of the City of Revere were retaliated against for union activity, and that is something that if the School Committee is not going to do something and no one else is going to say anything – Councillor McKenna and I met with the Revere Teachers Association and we felt that it’s at a point now where it is our responsibility to do something. I just want to let (the people who have been affected by this) know that they have my support as a city councillor. There should never be an instance in this city where someone is retaliated against for union activity. That’s poor practice and that reflects poorly on this entire city.”
Several councilors, including McKenna (see accompanying statement) expressed their support for the three teachers.
Gina Garro, president of the Revere Teachers Association, also spoke at the Council meeting, stating, “These three educators are exceptional, not only in the classroom, but as human beings. They were willing to stand up for their fellow educators, students, and families and now as a result of that, have lost their job. They put themselves in harm’s way and stood up for the greater good of others. Aren’t these the kind of educators that we want to fight to retain in our city and aren’t these the kind of role models that we want for our students. I think you will agree, yes it is.”
School Committee member D’Ambrosio releases statement in support of Revere schoolteachers
Committee member Anthony D’Ambrosio watched Monday’s City Council meeting and the Council’s discussion and action concerning three teachers at the A.C. Whelan School. D’Ambrosio, who is in his first year as a member of the School Committee after topping the ticket in last fall’s city election, released the following statement Monday night:
I have stood proudly with Revere’s incredible teachers since I assumed office in January, and I will continue to do so.
Revere’s teachers and educational staff members are some of the hardest-working and most valuable members of our community. They are on the front lines of almost every crisis that we face, and they do a fantastic job of educating the next generations of our City.
In a time when the rights of working Americans across the country have come under siege, I fully support the efforts of Revere’s educators. Working Americans today face unprecedented challenges and difficulties, and we, as a community, must do all that we can to support them.
Our teachers have bargained collectively for the right to engage in grievance procedures, and it is their constitutional right to demonstrate publicly when they feel as though their rights have been undermined.
If we are to commit ourselves to the protection of all working Americans, we must jointly commit ourselves to supporting Revere’s teachers.
Statement by Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna
As a teacher, for 32 years I gave 110 percent everyday to the Revere public school system and my students.
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum.
On one side, I was the Crisis Manager for the RTA, Co-Director for Student Activities, Director for Words not Weapons, Director for the Multicultural Teen Awareness Program, Director of Kids at Risk for Mass General Hospital, Mentored New Teachers, a member for School Improvement Committee,
Coached Powder Puff and was Faculty Speaker twice. I even have a Lifetime Excellence Award in my name given to a graduating senior
But on the other side, I was reprimanded and written up for leaving a July summer class for 20 minutes for personal reasons.
That day six of the best teachers in the system were also reprimanded for minor offenses. The punishment did not fit the offense but we were told if you fight the charges, it will have consequences.
In this circumstance, these two teachers started receiving poor evaluations after they filed their grievances.
I know how it feels to be afraid of what the outcome could have been, so I never challenged the charges and kept my mouth shut.
And I understand now, that I should have challenged the charges and not kept my mouth shut, because it is every teachers right to challenge or file a grievance.
I understand the meaning of having a disgruntled administrator. One that can make or break your teaching career.
I understand that no matter how hard you work or give yourself to your students and the school system, that a disgruntle administrator can make your life miserable, Evaluate you poorly, and push you out.
And before having this disgruntle administrator, I was getting exceptional evaluations and high praises from everyone.
In similarity, before filing a grievance, Victoria and Katie too, had excellent evaluations and high praises in their first two years of teaching.
It wasn’t until after filing a grievance, which is every teacher’s right to do, the bad evaluations to both were presented.
I know how it feels when people that you respected and thought respected you, turned and looked the other way.
I know what’s it like not having a voice and not to be heard.
I understand unfairness!
I have lived it as a teacher.
And whatever Happened to And JUSTICE for All?
That is why I am here tonight speaking for the underdog, to advocate for these three young dedicated educators that are on the other side of the spectrum.
To lend my voice when I didn’t have one.
To lend my voice because no one is hearing them.
So I ask that a lesser punishment be negotiated for these educators, to continue being a part of the Revere Public School System and not ruin their careers going forward.
Letter to Mayor from Councillors McKenna, Giannino
Councilor McKenna and I write to you today to urge you to support the RTA and the teachers of the Revere Public School System. On June 5, 2020, three City of Revere staff members at the A. C. Whelan school had their contracts non-renewed as retaliation for their union activity. They were punished for standing up for the rights of teachers and students in the 2019-2020 school year. We call on you and the Revere Public Schools to immediately reinstate these three educators.
As a product of Revere Public Schools, I am so proud of the professionalism of these teachers and the RTA. Councilor McKenna has 32 years of experience in the Revere Public School System and was a representative and member of the union. No union member should ever be retaliated against for their union activity.
It is a poor reflection on the City of Revere that we allowed this to happen and go on this long.
Katie Cochrane, a 5th grade ELA and Science & Social Studies teacher, has been with the district since 2016. She began her tenure in Revere working as a substitute in a number of buildings including the Lincoln, Garfield Elementary, and the Whelan. Katie was ecstatic to begin her career at the Whelan for the 2017-2018 school year. She is a beloved member of her 5th grade team, a hard worker, and constantly striving to do her best for her students.
Victoria DeVincent, a 4th grade ELA and Science & Social Studies teacher, has been with the district since 2014. She has always been in the Revere school system in some capacity, formerly as a student and now as a staff member. She spent her first 3 years in the district working as an Early Reading Intervention paraprofessional at Whelan. She was given the opportunity to move into a classroom teacher role for the 2017-2018 school year at the Whelan. In her role as a classroom teacher, she honors the opportunity to give back to her community and educate the youth of Revere. She has spent the last three school years being a devoted member of her 4th grade team, actively engaging to improve her practice, and building strong relationships with her students.
Heather Kantrowitz, a K-5 school adjustment counselor, has been with the district since 2016 when she covered for a maternity leave. She has worked at both Garfield Middle and Whelan as a strong advocate for her students and the improvement of their mental health and school success. Known to the kids as “Ms. K”, she is someone her students and staff look to for guidance and is always striving to do what’s best for them. She is consistent, fair, and sets clear expectations for her students, which is why she is a cherished member of the school community.
Aside from being hard-working and dedicated staff members, all of them have one other thing in common: they took a stand against unfair practices and raised their voice as union members this year. They filed grievances, spoke at rallies, and all were outspoken in their concern. They protested against wrongful policies by their administrator which hurt student learning. They went above and beyond every day in their jobs and took the risk of advocating for their working conditions, and for the learning conditions of their students.
This action from Revere is insulting, unacceptable, anti-union, and bad for teachers and students. These three non-renewals must be overturned. These three deserve their jobs back. Their students deserve their teachers.
Please join us in demanding fair treatment for these educators.
Thank you for your time. I respectfully ask that you consider councilor McKenna and my request.
City Councilor at Large