CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Red River United (RRU) has filed a lawsuit against the Caddo Parish School District for what the organization claims is the “discriminatory manner in which the district intends to exclude certain employees from a planned stipend.”
On March 23, the school board approved a one-time payment of $1,000 for for district employees to any district employee who attended at least 90% of the days they were scheduled to work during the 2020-21 school year. It’s called the 2021 Caddo Heroes Supplement. RRU claims these payments are not being distributed to employees in a fair manner.
The school district says day in which employees were absent due to COVID-19 or professional training were not counted against them as days missed. School officials say the supplement is estimated to cost more than $6 million and is funded through higher than estimated sales tax revenue.
The union goes on to say these alleged exclusions are disproportionately affecting women, older employees, and those with disabilities.
“This year has been grueling and every employee who has shown up for our students is a hero. That doesn’t change just because someone had to take time off to have a baby, or went in for emergency surgery. We are going to fight for their rights, which should be the same as everyone else’s,” said Jackie Lansdale, president of RRU.
RRU filed a lawsuit Monday, April 5. Details of the suit were presented Monday by Lansdale and others. The news conference can be watched in its entirety below.
The Caddo Parish School District released a statement in response to the suit Monday, saying while district officials do not comment on pending litigation, they look forward to the court system determining the merit of the case. The district goes on to say they’ve asked for weeks for RRU to stop spreading “erroneous and false” information to members and the public about the Heroes Supplement.
“This year is one that has been unlike any other, and through it all our teachers and staff have done incredible work,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, superintendent of Caddo Schools. “In recent years we’ve made every effort to ensure we are providing a competitive salary and benefits package, but the work this year for those in the trenches goes beyond that. This supplement allows us to recognize and reward the individuals who were on the frontlines of helping us to keep students safe while providing instruction. Our teachers and support staff have had to completely rethink the way they perform their jobs. Through it all, they were dedicated to showing up for their students, and for that, we are forever grateful.”
“The teachers and school employees of the Red River United have consistently voted to keep our school doors open. What a slap in the face to those who literally put their lives, and for some, their unborn child’s, on the line to be left out of the Hero pay. Our members have voted to stand together on this,” said Jordan Thomas, president of the Caddo Federation of Teachers, a division of RRU.
The lawsuit comes after thousands of employees reportedly wrote to the school board asking them to broaden the distribution of the stipend.
“I wish it didn’t come to this, but the district left us no other choice. We aren’t going to sit by and watch them discriminate against our members. We have to fight back,” Lansdale said.
Below are copies of some of the letters sent to the school district about the issue.