No sooner had city school officials given teachers the option of working Election Day than they had to cancel school when the union told teachers they didn’t have to work if they didn’t want to.
Larisa Shambaugh, the city’s chief talent officer, sent a letter to teachers telling them she was forced to close school Nov. 8 because union President John Abeigon had monkeyed up plans to keep schools open.
“Mr. Abeigon recently directly communicated to teaching staff to ignore our calendar and invoked a provision in state law directing members to take Election Day off if they desire,” Shambaugh argued. “This action created a serious concern about whether there would be appropriate coverage for students.”
Abeigon fired back in his own letter to teachers:
“Newark Public Schools seek to blame everyone else for their mistakes and attempt to nullify a law that clearly states ‘No teaching staff member shall be required to perform his duties on any day declared by law to be a public holiday,’ ” he wrote.
The union boss charged that Shambaugh displayed “arrogance, disrespect” and a “refusal to respect the community of Newark.”
Abeigon said he never encouraged members to ignore the school calendar or take the day off. “In fact, we asked staff to give administrators plenty of notice if they would be absent (which they are not required to do) to insure coverage would be available.”
Shambaugh said she would schedule a makeup day later in the year.
The rift comes amid widespread publicity surrounding Abeigon‘s confusing, on-again, off-again fundraising campaign.
He had said the GoFundMe idea was aimed at replenishing the union’s legal-defense fund but days later pulled the plug on the website http://bit.ly/2drVAm3 after critics questioned the union’s financial management.