KILLEEN, TX — On behalf of the Killeen Educators Association, the Texas Teachers Association has filed a class action grievance against Killeen ISD.
The grievance claims teachers, bus drivers, custodial staff and paraprofessional members have been forced to work in unsafe working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Killeen ISD is not the first school district to have a grievance suit on their hands. Teachers unions in Florida, California, Iowa, and Illinois, just to name a few, have all filled multiple suits with school districts claiming a lack of safety when it comes to COVID-19 procedures.
A KISD bus driver says she completely understands why the teacher's union has taken it this far.
“I’m almost back to full capacity in my bus. There may be six seats on my bus that aren’t full,” said Anette Hall.
Since coming back to school in the COVID-19 era, Hall says she picks up kids from the elementary schools all the way through the high school, but her biggest concern is with the younger age groups.
“Sometimes they have their masks on, sometimes they don’t. A lot of times they are forgetting them. Of course we have masks on the bus that we can hand to the kids and so we do but that’s more often than not," Hall explained.
Luckly the bus driver says she doesn't have extended contact with students, but people like her sister, who is a teacher within KISD, don’t have that luxury.
“They're even in more close communication with these kids every single day in the classroom, and they need to be safe,” said Hall.
”We’ve been trying for months through emails, through board speeches. even through a Honk for Your Health rally to get the district to here and pay attention,” said Killeen Educators Association President Rick Beaulé.
Beaulé is one of many KISD employees mentioned in the suit. As person who is at high risk for catching COVID-19, Beaulé says has he had to take leave because he does not feel safe.
“The district is not offering me any other opportunities in terms of teaching virtually in other ways in which I could be working to do my job, which I want to do,” said Beaulé.
Some of the complaints listed in the grievance include lack of PPE for teachers who have the most contact with students and a lack of cleaning supplies.
“The district has flat out said that replacing air filters is not economically feasible. They have said that they are not social distancing, or physical distancing as I prefer to say, on school buses. There’s nothing that we would want more than to be in the classroom teaching our children, but right now it is not a healthy situation,” Beaulé added.
Killeen ISD spokesperson Taina Maya issued the following statement regarding the grievance, “It would be highly inappropriate for either party to discuss a grievance before the grievance process is adhered to, and has been fully exhausted, particularly in an effort to forge public opinion.”
The school district's COVID-19 dashboard shows an increase of six cases since Tuesday, putting the total for the district at 57 cases since March 16.