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On Nov. 4, Portage Association of Teachers (PAT) President Shawn Chamberlain shared a press release indicating that PAT had filed an Intimidation Claim against the Portage Township School Corporation (PTS). 

The claim was filed in response to the behavior of PTS Superintendent Amanda Alaniz. 

“Superintendent Alaniz confronted Portage teachers in a hostile manner, blaming them for the toxicity in the school corporation. Teachers approached her with their concerns, and she said they could leave and teach elsewhere,” the PAT release states. “Superintendent Alaniz then stormed into the negotiations session before it started and began yelling at Association leadership, stating they’d lied to their Members.”

Other concerns included emails sent from PTS to teachers involved with the bargaining process that utilized scare tactics and disregard for the PAT.

The Complaint of Unfair Labor Practice, as described on the Indiana Government website, states that a school board cannot, “Interfere with, restrain, or coerce school employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in IC 20-29-4 [and refusing] to bargain collectively with the exclusive representative [PAT].”

On Oct. 19, PAT and the local community gathered to show support for Portage teachers, who were attempting to reach agreements on salary negotiations. As the Nov. 15 deadline of the negotiation period approaches, preliminary agreements have begun to be reached. A Nov. 2 graphic posted on Facebook by the Portage Association of Teachers indicated that if the board’s current offer was accepted, 69% of teachers in the district would be earning a salary of under $60,000 with 17% making the $47,500 base wages. 

“Teachers are the very foundation from which we are grown into the part of our future that requires us to put our best foot forward and be that foundation for someone else in our journey. Just like we wouldn’t be able to conduct a society without our military, we surely would be lost without teachers. They do not simply go home at the end of their day and turn the lights out on their job. They stay after for clubs, activities and sports,” said Megan Flores, PTS parent and head of the Portage Township Schools Parent Support Group on Facebook. “They spend their evenings and weekends grading papers, or researching ways they can reach those few students that have been so hard to crack. They buy supplies with their own money, and fund the decorations in their classrooms, because they want every child to feel valued and encouraged. Why are we arguing over why they do or do not deserve more? What do we even value at all, if we do not value our teachers? They deserve our support, and higher pay.”

A rally scheduled for Nov. 9, was cancelled last minute. A statement released by the Portage Association of Teachers Facebook page indicated the reason was because of communications with the school board.

“Portage Association of Teachers was able to reach a tentative agreement on contract negotiations,” the post read.

No further explanation on what this agreement specifies or entails has been shared. 

This is a developing story. The Torch will provide further information as it becomes available.

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