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Hopatcong Contract Dispute Impacted Seniors Requesting Letters of Recommendation from their Teachers [POLL]

Flickr User Jim, the Photographer
Flickr User Jim, the Photographer

A teacher contract dispute with the Hopatcong School district has been resolved, but not without some hard feelings between graduating seniors and their teachers who, ordinarily, would have volunteered to write for them letters of recommendation to allow them to apply to the colleges of their choice.

The dispute centered around the contribution teachers would have to make toward their health and pension benefits…and during the job action, they stopped all volunteering actions outside of their contractual obligations…which included writing the letters…which they ordinarily would have done.

But even as a new agreement is in place between the teachers and the district, some hard feelings remain between the teachers and the students…many of whom looked up to their teachers.

According to this:

Some students have said that they have been denied college recommendation letters from teachers who declined to work extra unpaid hours during the job action.
Rich Lavery, a student liaison to the school board, said he was denied letters after asking two teachers.

“It was a very frustrating experience, and rather upsetting since the teachers who we consider our friends, first and foremost, because we have that close personal bond with them, weren’t able to help us further our education because of what the unions were telling them to do,” he said.

Although Lavery said he didn’t miss any application deadlines because he didn’t apply early anywhere, some of his other peers, including senior Jake Parisi, missed three early action deadlines.

Willa Scantlebury, whose son, Trent, is a senior, said her son was also denied a letter during the job action, and believes it is unfair that the students were affected by the dispute.

“It should never ever come to this,” she said. “It was a really bad call, and something should be done so that these calls can never be made again, where they’re utilizing the kids.”

(The teacher’s association spokesperson) said that the job action was necessary because of the scheduled pay raises that were agreed upon were not met.
“We did what we felt we had to do, which was give up all volunteering because we were not being paid what we should have been paid to work in the classrooms, so we weren’t going to do anything extra when we weren’t getting what we were due. We now have what we agreed in the contract, and we can move forward.”

(The spokespeople) both said Principal Noreen Lazariuk, Director of Guidance Gina Cinotti, and Maranzano all wrote letters for students who needed them during the job action.

Job actions have consequences…in this case, giving up volunteering to write letters of recommendation for students who looked up to these teachers.

And while the letters eventually were written, shouldn’t the teachers have put aside their differences with the district and penned the letters for the students anyway?

Maybe this makes me go against my union, but I would have.


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