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In re Petition for Clarification of an Appropriate Unit

May 6, 2003

IN THE MATTER OF A PETITION FOR CLARIFICATION OF AN APPROPRIATE UNIT
EDUCATION MINNESOTA-INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT NO. 917, LOCAL 3904, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, RELATOR,
v.
INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 917, ROSEMOUNT, MINNESOTA, RESPONDENT,
BUREAU OF MEDIATION SERVICES, RESPONDENT.



Bureau of Mediation Services File No. 02PCL121

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Hudson, Judge

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Non-licensed community experts hired pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 122A.25, subd. 1 (2002), are properly excluded from the teacher bargaining unit because they are not "teachers" within the meaning of the Public Employees Labor Relations Act, Minn. Stat. § 179A.03, subd. 18(1) (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anderson, Judge

Affirmed

Dissenting, Schumacher, Judge

OPINION

Relator Education Minnesota petitioned respondent Bureau of Mediation Services for a unit clarification, seeking a determination that teaching positions filled by non-licensed community experts pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 122A.25 (2002) should be included in the teacher bargaining unit. After a hearing, the bureau excluded the non-licensed community experts from the unit. Education Minnesota brings this certiorari appeal, arguing that because teaching positions filled by non-licensed community experts constitute teaching positions as defined by the Public Employee Labor Relations Act, Minn. Stat. § 179A.04, subd. 18(1) (2002), they are properly included within the teacher bargaining unit. Because the bureau properly determined that non-licensed community experts should be excluded from the teacher bargaining unit, we affirm.

FACTS

Respondent Intermediate School District No. 917 (the school district) is a public employer subject to the Public Employee Labor Relations Act (PELRA), Minn. Stat. §§ 179A.01-.25 (2002). Relator Education Minnesota is the exclusive bargaining representative under PELRA for the bargaining unit of teachers employed by the school district.

Most of the teachers employed by the school district are licensed to teach special education. The school district offers primarily special education programs, as well as secondary vocational education. Because there is a severe shortage of special education teachers, the school district sought permission to hire non-licensed community experts to fill vacant special education positions. During the 2001-2002 school year, the board of teaching gave the school district approval to hire nine community experts who did not have teacher's licenses; eight of these community experts were hired to fill special education teaching positions. The school district gave the non-licensed community experts a temporary contract, with salaries and responsibilities commensurate with those of a licensed teacher.

Generally, the school district has not placed non-licensed community experts in the teacher bargaining unit, with the exception of one community expert who was a tenured occupational therapist and therefore a "teacher" within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 179A.03, subd. 18(2) (2002). Relator petitioned the Bureau of Mediation Services for clarification or amendment of the appropriate teacher bargaining unit for the school district, requesting that all non-licensed community experts employed by the school district be included in the local teacher bargaining unit. After a hearing, the bureau ruled that the community experts were not teachers and that they were excluded from the teacher bargaining unit. This certiorari appeal followed.

ISSUE

Should non-licensed community experts who are hired to fill teaching positions under Minn. Stat. ยง 122A.25, subd. 1 (2002), be excluded from ...


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