Charter school union members say 15 teachers and two staff members, many active in union efforts, have been fired at Urban Prep Academies.
At least 100 union members, parents and students stood outside the school’s Englewood campus on Thursday to fight for their reinstatement. The Urban Prep campuses boast a 100 percent graduation rate.
The Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff passed out fliers that featured pictures of 10 of those who lost their jobs, each holding signs that read “Union Now.”
A majority of teachers earlier this month voted in favor of being represented by a union. Although there is not yet a contract, the teachers are being represented by the charter school union, which is asking the Urban Prep board to accept the results and enter into a contract.
Shoneice Reynolds, whose son will be a senior, said two of the fired teachers helped her son transition from elementary school to Urban Prep, providing constant emotional and academic support.
“They have provided stability. They have mentored our young men,” said Reynolds, who was in tears standing outside the school. “As a single mother of a young man, raising him in Chicago in a very, very rough city for our black youth, they have found safety in the arms of these teachers at Urban prep. They have found teachers. Some of them have found fathers.”
Samuel Adams, an eight-year veteran, also got a pink slip. He joined others in speaking before the school’s board, including the school’s founder and CEO Tim King.
Adams said teachers at Urban Prep have an interest in communicating with the board and felt the union would help them get their voice heard. It would promote change, he told the board.
“It seems that when we brought these changes to you, that those teachers who brought those changes were let go,” said Adams.
Representatives for the teachers have filed unfair labor practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the teachers and staff were fired because of their union support. One teacher, who didn’t want to be named, said he wasn’t involved with the union and didn’t know why he was fired.
Brian Harris, president of the charter union, said the board agreed to negotiate with those hoping to join a union.
“The campaign is over. The teachers chose a union. You had ample time to make your call,” Harris told the board. “How is firing all these teachers negotiating in good faith? The Urban Prep creed says we choose to live honestly. Live honestly. Reinstate the teachers.”
Board members did not respond to the speakers. Urban Prep did not respond to calls for comment.