ALBUQUERQUE — American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly released the following statement:
“The New Mexico Public Employees Labor Relations Board issued a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction against Gallup McKinley County Schools, this time relating to its illegal surveillance of educators in the District.
“Parents, students, and educators won a victory today when the New Mexico Labor Board limited the District’s intrusive use of surveillance technology in the classroom. Rather than focusing on encouraging safe and welcoming learning environments and updating the 675+ unsafe classrooms to safe learning classrooms, the District continues to prioritize District’s resources on paying multiple Chicago lawyers to fight against students and educators.
“We are proud of the Gallup educators who refused to be bullied by the District and Mike Hyatt, the Superintendent. We are grateful that the New Mexico Labor Board affirmed the right of the District’s employees to bargain intrusive work conditions and took decisive action to end the District’s illegal practices.
“Educators and students are working very hard to find ways to teach and learn in this pandemic; we hope that Gallup McKinley Schools will stop making the education process more difficult and less productive right now. Our educators’ and students’ development are at stake.”
The Order requires the District to cease and desist the following illegal activities:
- Unannounced surveillance of educator classroom instruction: Prior to entry of the Board’s Order, Gallup McKinley educators were forced to accept unannounced camera surveillance by the District, in their homes. As one District Administrator instructed educators, “through the entirety of the day . . . excluding your lunch. . . you are on live on your computer. At no point does the camera turn off . . . We should see you at any time of the day . . . All information is being logged by us.” Going forward District Administrators must verbally announce to the educator their monitoring of the camera feed when they begin and end, bringing to a close the District’s overbearing and intrusive policy.
- The District has been ordered to bargain with the Union over camera use before it implements any other measures.
- Beginning this fall, the District forced its educators to sign a form agreeing to be monitored by the District for “all activities taking place on the device at any time . . . (including) screen snapshots, video activity or any other use of the device.” The Labor Board Ordered the District to cease using this form and to notify all educators who were forced to sign the form that the District had no legal right to require signature on the form and that the form is not legally valid.
“We hope the District and Superintendent Hyatt will refocus their attention to providing healthy and safe learning environments, especially with COVID-19 impacting our lives.”