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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The principal at The Sullivans elementary school denied a teachers union’s recommendations in a grievance filed against him over a change in the teachers’ lunch break.

The Nov. 16 Federal Education Association grievance requested that Principal Dave Russell either cancel his direction that teachers stand lunch monitor duties or, should the requirement remain, pay the teachers “their hourly rate for time spent providing such supervision.”

In his Nov. 29 written response to the grievance, a copy of which was obtained by Stars and Stripes, he denied the request because “all teachers have at least a 30-minute daily duty free lunch” and the monitoring “is performed during the duty day and compensation is within the daily rate for teachers.”

The current FEA contract calls for teachers to have a minimum 30-minute lunch period free of work tasks..

According to one teacher, Russell’s policy and his response have struck a sour note with teachers.

“We are being forced into an un-negotiated change in working conditions, and it is causing a lot of tension,” said the teacher, who asked not to be named out of fear of retaliation. “Some of us believe the school already has the assets to fix this problem — now what we really need is leadership capable to make it happen.”

Russell’s response included a time line stretching back to the 2004-05 school year, when “it was jointly determined that teachers might have to supervise students during lunch and/or recess.”

According to the response, the 2005-06 school year saw the implementation of teacher supervision of recess, and during the 2006-07 school year, a faculty representative spokesperson “requested teachers replace the inside lunchroom aides,” which “was jointly agreed to.”

When contacted, Russell referred all questions to Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific spokesman Chip Steitz.

“We are confident that the decision the principal of Sullivans Elementary School made is in the best interest of the students and the school,” Steitz said in an e-mail. “As this is an ongoing matter, we cannot comment on specifics. … DODDS-Pacific maintains a positive and collaborative relationship with the Federal Education Association.”

According to a DODDS-FEA agreement, now that Russell has issued his response, the union has 10 days to advance the grievance to the DODDS regional director.

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