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San Diego Unified is fending off accusations from the teachers union that it is stalling at the bargaining table.

More than eight months have passed since the teachers’ contract expired, but few agreements have been made, according to updates posted by both the teachers union and the school district since bargaining began. A notable exception is their recent agreement on how to spend savings from a golden handshake.

“They only became serious when they saw this opportunity to save a lot of money,” said Camille Zombro, president of the teachers union. “They’ve been unwilling to negotiate seriously over any other issues.”

The union took its complaints to the Public Employment Relations Board, which enforces labor law. It contended that San Diego Unified had repeatedly canceled bargaining sessions, rejected its requests to meet, and refused to make proposals. PERB then issued a complaint, an action that an agency spokesman said is comparable to bringing a lawsuit to trial, not a guilty verdict.

The school district stresses that no fault has been found. San Diego Unified has already responded to the complaint, denying the allegations and contending that actions such as changing its spokespeople were not meant to delay bargaining.

“I don’t want to get into a tit for tat in the press about the allegations,” said Mark Bresee, general counsel for the school district. He said that the school board elections and wildly volleying budgets had made it difficult to move forward in bargaining, adding, “I would say that now that the issue of the composition of the board is settled, there is a real desire on behalf of the district administration and the board to look forward and not backward.”

The union and the school district are scheduled to try to hash out a settlement over the complaint on April 15. If they cannot come to an agreement, the case will go to a formal hearing before an administrative law judge who will hear evidence from both sides.


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