The teachers union is urging educators in San Diego Unified schools not to sign an ethics code that it complains was not developed with union input. It is among several San Diego Unified decisions that have been contested by the teachers union as bargaining proceeds between the two parties.

The ethics code is a 10-point list of “do’s and don’ts” such as not holding financial conflicts of interest, not using school district jobs for personal or private gain, and not accepting gifts that could appear to improperly sway San Diego Unified decisions. The union issued a message to teachers arguing that the school district broke the law by not allowing union members to give input on the code, which it believes is covered by union bargaining:

What’s wrong with signing the Ethics Code?
SDUSD says that members may be disciplined for violations of the Ethics Code, but the rules are too vague to know what is a violation. Your signature on the Ethics Code could hold you liable for unknowingly violating the vague code. [California Teachers Association] Legal advises that you protect yourself by NOT signing this form.

Superintendent Terry Grier mentioned the sparring over the ethics code in his weekly update to staff Friday:

Some have expressed concern about signing the acknowledgement statement. Anyone who does not want to sign does not have to. However, that doesn’t change our accountability for understanding and abiding by the Code. We all have a moral obligation to conduct ourselves in an ethical manner.

During bargaining, the teachers union has also needled the school district about the cost of providing free pre-SAT tests to all 9th, 10th and 11th graders and of reducing class sizes for specific schools in a study undertaken by Grier and staffers this year, according to updates on bargaining posted by the school district.

For more information on the ethics program at San Diego Unified, what it does, and why it was started, check out this article I wrote a year ago.

EMILY ALPERT

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