Merrick teachers want contract after two years

UFT members protest outside Merrick Academy. Photo by Ivan Pereira
By Ivan Pereira

Teachers at the Merrick Academy charter school in Jamaica said they have been struggling to keep their school’s atmosphere positive since they have been working without a contract for more than two years.

Some of those instructors joined United Federation of Teachers members outside the school at 207-01 Jamaica Ave. Monday evening to demand that the institution’s administrators listen to their needs. Chanting phrases, including “Two years, two long,” a huge group of supporters backed up instructors who told their stories of hardship.

Susan Randel, 27, a teacher who has been at the school for three years, said it has been hard to instruct her students because her morale has been diminished by the lack of cooperation from the school’s heads.

“When I first started working at Merrick, the teachers, families and students all acted as a family,” she said.

UFT Director of Staff LeRoy Barr said Merrick administrators has been stalling in its negotiations with the teachers and as a result the instructors are unnecessarily suffering.

“They [should] come here and run out at 4 p.m. because they have a second job,” he said.

In addition, they have been forced to adhere to a strict academic program that does not let them get involved with parents, according to Barr. He urged administrators to give the teachers a say so the roughly 500 kindergarten through sixth-grade students can benefit.

“Children do best when educators and parents work as a team,” he said.

Merrick administrators could not be reached for comment by press time Tuesday.

Randel said the administrators have been negotiating a new contract for some time and there was some headway in their discussions. The teacher said she hopes something is done before the new school year so morale can be improved.

“Recently, we have been trying to send out an olive branch and bring [the school] back to what it was,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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