STRENGTHENING PARENT’S VOICES IN SCHOOLS
Community Representatives are liaisons between schools and the community, and play an important role as problem-solvers in our schools. Yet, they are essentially treated like temporary employees. They cannot work more than 90 days or a total of 720 hours in one year. This limits most Community Representatives to less than four hours of paid work per day even though they often dedicate 8 or more hours to students and families every school day.
Community Representatives are exempt from classified employee service. This makes them “at will” employees who can be terminated at any time for no reason at all.
How we’re addressing the issue
In March, SEIU Local 99 helped to put forth AB 2261—a state legislative bill authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman—to address this issue.
AB 2261 will update the California Education Code (Section 45258) to allow Community Representatives to foster stronger ties with more parents and help more students succeed by:
- Lifting the cap on Community Representative work hours.
- Allowing school sites to invest in keeping their parent centers open and accessible for more time during the school year.
- Making the Community Representative position a permanent, classified position. As classified employees, they will gain the same “just cause” job protections that all other classified employees have.
AB 2261 will also revise Section 45258 of the California Education Code and make the Community Representative position a classified position. As classified employees, they will gain just cause job protections that all other classified employees have.
Claudia Duron (far right), a Community Representative at Nueva Vista Elementary, hosts a meeting with parent volunteers at the school’s parent center.
On September 7, Governor Brown signed AB 2261 (Friedman) into law. “Community representatives are essential to increasing parent engagement in our schools and crucial to the success of our most vulnerable students. School employees applaud Governor Brown for addressing the outdated law that has prevented crucial school staff from being appropriately recognized and valued,” said Executive Director of SEIU Local 99 Max Arias in a public statement.
AB 2261 will allow schools to invest in keeping their parent centers open and accessible for more time during the school year by lifting the 720-hour-a-year cap that Community Representatives can work (as defined in the California Education Code (Section 45258).
“For years, we’ve been trying to get this changed and the passage of this bill finally recognizes the value of Community Representatives in schools,” says Haydee Malacas, a LAUSD Community Representative at Carson High School. “For parents, this means more access to resources and assistance, so that they can better help their kids succeed.”
The lift on the cap ensures Community Representatives are paid for the hours they work. Community Representatives have reported for years that—due to the demands of the job—they regularly work 8 hour days, but are only paid for four or fewer hours.
AB 2261 also makes the position a permanent, classified position. As classified employees, they will gain the same “just cause” job protections that all other classified employees have.
Now that her position will become part of a classified unit, Haydee says she’ll no longer feel the stress of being behind the eight ball and for that, she wants to make sure everyone knows that her union and union members made this possible. Reflecting on this win and what it means to have a union, she says: “When we’re together in our union, we can make big changes…changes that improves people’s lives.”