Romer Threatens To Intervene in Denver Dispute

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Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado last week stepped into the troubled contract negotiations between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and the Denver school board, vowing to intervene in the dispute if the two parties had not reached a settlement by the evening of Jan. 5.

The teachers' association voted Dec. 15 to strike on Jan. 7, the day students return to classes after the holiday vacation, if a contract agreement had not been reached by then. (See Education Week, Dec. 5, 1990.)

The Governor said he would invoke state law, which gives the chief executive the authority to intervene in labor disputes, to "prevent a strike and to provide a solution."

"I do not want this announcement in any way to slow down or impede the current negotiations," Mr. Romer added. "I want a negotiated settlement."

Throughout the negotiations, the Denver school board has argued that a new type of labor agreement is necessary if the district hopes to improve its schools. Initially, the board proposed replacing the current teaching contract with "board policy" governing teachers' working conditions.

The teachers' association has insisted that teachers' contractual rights be preserved, and has balked at proposals to change the teacher-transfer policy and to give principals more authority in the schools.

The two sides bargained with the assistance of a mediator during the week before Christmas. The talks resumed last week.

If the dispute is not settled, Governor Romer said he would convene a series of public hearings in conjunction with the state Department of Labor and Employment to explore the unresolved issues, particularly those dealing with educational policy.

The hearings would focus on how schools should be managed to ensure accountability for management and "fair treatment and proper participation by teachers and parents," the Governor added.--ab & tm

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