Bullying is heard about the most in schools as children are the one who are the most susceptible to becoming a bully. But the Board of Education is the biggest bully of them all and they even have real power, which makes it extremely terrible! Just like a bully, the BOE is now threatening teachers to sign an addendum to their contract or get fired! If this is not bullying then we need to include it in the definition because threatening teachers to sign something they don’t have to sign by law is pure bullying behavior. But this is not the first time. The BOE and even some principals have used the clause in teachers’ contract to “terminate teachers without cause,” which is really a tool of retaliation.
Forcing teachers to sign an addendum to their contract that releases PSS from any liability for their pay cuts is wrong and even evil as PSS has a legal duty to live up to teachers’ contracts. Threatening teachers is really placing them under undue pressure, which any court will see as a violation of their rights and expectation under their original contract. BOE can ask teachers to sign the addendum but they can’t threaten teachers. I now see why teachers want to protest and they should, with very good reasons, and no teacher should sign the addendum to their contract as they can’t fire everyone, so please stick together this time or you will continue to be bullied!
I fought tooth and nail to try and help teachers get bargaining rights so teachers could get the “without cause” erased from their contracts. But the BOE then got some racist teachers from the U.S. mainland and a few locals to actually fight against me, so I know firsthand they don’t play fair and it is still going on. When I refused to run for a second term, the BOE even got the CNMI Constitution changed with the help of uneducated voters who really didn’t know what they were doing, thinking they were helping PSS when in reality they sealed the fate of our teachers to be an oppressed group of employees forever. Maybe now teachers will join together and get the clause erased in their contracts so they can’t be threatened anymore. The BOE made the teacher representative position and teachers a “Captain Dummy” position with no real power. Teachers really need to protest about the addendum and the “without cause” in their contracts because, without that clause, the BOE’s bullying days will be over.
Ambrose M Bennett is a former teacher representative on the CNMI Board of Education.