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I had the pleasure of doing an interview with DC journalist, Pete Tucker who writes the FightBack blog and covers local news stories the main stream media shys away from. We were streaming live from Occupy DC. I hope you will read his article (below) and check out my interview @ http://thefightback.org/
Seven months after the membership of the Washington Teachers’ Union elected Candi Peterson general vice president, she was unceremoniously, and possibly illegally, removed from office at the behest of WTU President Nathan Saunders. “Our president basically colluded with the chancellor’s office to [get rid of me],” Peterson said yesterday in an interview with TheFightBack that was livestreamed from Occupy DC at McPherson Square on K Street.
As a matter of contract, District of Columbia Public Schools grants WTU presidents and vice presidents leaves of absence from their teaching positions, which allows them to serve full time in their capacity as elected union officials. But DCPS and Saunders revoked Peterson’s leave in a September memorandum, forcing her to return to the classroom.
Peterson has been a fierce critic of the so-called school reform carried out by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her number two, Kaya Henderson, who replaced Rhee as chancellor. “Kaya Henderson has every reason to want to silence me. So does Nathan Saunders, I guess,” said Peterson.
The official word on Peterson’s status remains ambiguous. In a Sept. 21 letter to WTU members, Saunders said that Peterson “was not fired, terminated, nor ousted.” This is hard to square with the fact that she’s no longer general vice president and she didn’t step down by choice.
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander questioned DCPS’s role in Peterson’s removal in an Oct. 18 email to the chancellor. Henderson responded, “President Saunders no longer required the full-time services of Ms. Peterson and therefore no longer needed her to be on leave from DCPS.”
Peterson, like Saunders, was elected by the WTU membership, and therefore it’s unclear whether DCPS has the legal right to revoke her absence based on the wishes of the president.
At a crucial time for DCPS, with talk of layoffs and school closings once again circulating, a critical voice is missing. Ironically, the effort to silence Peterson is being led not by the anti-union Rhee/Henderson team, but by the WTU president.