MANISTIQUE - The Manistique School Board has denied a Michigan Education Association grievance addressing its usage of a volunteer coach for a self-funded sport. The motion to issue a denial was unanimously approved during a recent meeting of the board.
The formation of a Manistique cross country team, along with its volunteer coaching position, was approved at an Aug. 16 meeting of the board. Teacher Laurie Lindstrom has since been leading the team, which is currently in the midst of their first season.
According to Superintendent Kathy McDonough, the MEA filed the grievance shortly after the decision in August.
"At a previous board meeting, the board set a new precedent, explaining that if there is a new sport added on, it will have to be a voluntary coaching position and it will have to be self-funded," she explained. "The MEA grievance is in regard to the assignment of the voluntary coaching position. They want to negotiate the position as a paid coach per the (MEA) contract (with Manistique)."
The official board stance on the grievance is, according to McDonough, "If the board decides that all self-funded athletic teams must use volunteer coaches, decisions related to filling volunteer positions are a prohibited subject of bargaining."
McDonough said she has obtained opinions from two attorneys, who agreed the board has the right to forgo bargaining. She also said the position of the board is covered under Public Act 112.
In section 423.215 of Public Act 112, it states, "Collective bargaining between a public school employer and a bargaining representative of its employees shall not include any of the following subjects ...The use of volunteers in providing services at its schools."
Though initial concern about the voluntary coaching designation was expressed by the public, McDonough notes that the concern has since subsided, and that the grievance was filed exclusively by the MEA.
Following protocol, McDonough has submitted the board's denial of the grievance to the MEA.
"I answered the grievance on behalf of the board, (which) voted 4 to 0 on the matter," she said. "The ball's in their court at this point."