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LCPS declines educators request for ransomware attack compensation

Las Cruces Public Schools (CBS4)
Las Cruces Public Schools (CBS4)
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In a letter sent to the teachers union, Las Cruces Public Schools told educators Friday that at this point, the district will not compensate them for the extra time and hours they’ve had to put in since the ransomware attack.

“It’s so disappointing, I don’t even know what to expect anymore,” Denise Sheehan, president of the National Education Association in Las Cruces, said.

We spoke with multiple LCPS teachers who said the district's decision not to immediately compensate them makes them feel undervalued.

“It makes me feel like they don’t really appreciate how much time, how much extra time, we’ve had to put in,” an LCPS teacher said.

“Teachers are always unappreciated and undervalued, and this just reinforces what we feel all the time,” an LCPS teacher said.

“Teachers aren't teachers just from 8 a.m. to 3:30, they’re teachers all the time and that’s one thing I don’t think people realize and certainly I don’t think is appreciated by the leadership in our district,” an LCPS teacher said.

The almost two-page letter sent to the teachers union said, “LCPS is declining to re open negotiations before there has been a collaborative effort through an memorandum of understanding committee to study the topic.”

“The district is asking that we have an MOU committee that will research these things but we have up to 90 days. That takes us far into the end of the school year. This is an emergency. Our teachers need relief,” Sheehan said.

The letter also addresses what the district has done to help teachers during this trying time.

“As you know, the District has already undertaken remedial measures including by extending the deadline for entering grades by a week until January 14, shifting responsibilities including for entering attendance, providing direct assistance with entering grades, and dedicating two previously planned professional development days on November 11, 2019 and January 6, 2020 for teachers to work on entering grades, etc,” the letter stated.

But Sheehan said this isn’t enough. She said the amount of extra time teachers across the district are having to put in is excessive and needs to be recognized.

“The technology crisis that we have right now has created hardships for our teachers. It’s not a secret, they are being underpaid and overworked,” Sheehan said.

We asked the district to comment on the compensation topic, their response was:

"In regards to the ransomware attack on the district, we thank teachers and all LCPS employees for their support during this trying time. We know teachers and staff are going above and beyond to ensure that students at Las Cruces Public Schools continue to receive the highest quality of education, and for that, we value their efforts.

In response to the NEA’s request to reopen bargaining for negotiations on compensation, please refer to the letter that was sent to the NEA-LC on January 10."

Sheehan said she feels blindsided after the false hope received from LCPS officials at the Jan. 7 school board meeting.

“I feel like our school board did listen to us, at this point I feel like the district does not,” Sheehan said.

The letter addressed the meeting saying, ”As stated by so many at Tuesday night’s board meeting, the crisis impacted employees, students and parents district wide. Sadly, this is precisely what it was designed to do.”

Sheehan said the lack of appreciation will cause the teacher shortage to continue to get worse.

“A lot of people are already on the fence about retirement, or just quitting all together. I think this might be the thing that’ll push them over the edge,” Sheehan said.

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The teachers union told us as a result of the response from LCPS, they filed a complaint with the labor board against the district.

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