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Unions Representing DCPS Non-Teaching Staff Unhappy With Rhee

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Two unions representing non-teaching staff employed by D.C.'s Public Schools are unhappy with Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Dwight Kirk is with AFSCME Local 2921, which represents non-teaching employees such as secretaries and staff assistants. He says almost 100 members lost their jobs under the District's new evaluation system.

A small portion of these employees' evaluations is tied to student performance and Kirk says that's unfair.

"You're holding a group of employees accountable for outcomes they don't have control over," he says. "Custodians can't raise test scores in a classroom. He's not or she's not a teacher."

Another union representing principals and assistant principals has reached an impasse in contract negotiations with DCPS.

Lindsay Maxwell represents the Council of School Officers. He says after negotiating for almost a year, the biggest sticking point is salary.

"The fact that we've seen Washington Teachers Union get large salary increases and get their contract settled and yet we can't get any type of salary increases for any of our principals, assistant principals and support staff' he says, "we find disheartening."

The WTU has it's own problems with DCPS though: they are challenging Chancellor Rhee's firing of teachers last month, saying the teacher evaluation system is "flawed" and "punitive." Rhee says the new evaluation system is much more objective than in years past.

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