Frequently asked questions about the HIDOE’s illegal furloughs

Check back here for updates as we receive them

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is pursuing legal action regarding violations of the contract caused by imposed furloughs.

Pending further developments, HSTA has developed the following frequently asked questions based on information current as of Friday, Dec. 18.

The Hawaii State Department of Education’s current plan calls for all employees to be furloughed on Monday, Jan. 4, and Friday, Feb. 12, one workday in each of the next two months. So far, we have very little information about how these will be implemented other than these FAQs issued by the HIDOE. We can, however, provide the following suggestions and guidance for our members.

Join us for a live Q&A

We know questions, concerns, and misconceptions about furloughs abound, so on Monday, Dec. 28, at 4 p.m., we will live stream a Q&A session on our Facebook page and YouTube channel to brief you on the latest developments. You can ask your question live during the session or submit it directly to us here.

What should I do on the teacher workday between semesters, Jan. 4, 2021? 

Teachers should not engage in any work on Jan. 4. HSTA also strongly discourages teachers from going to campus during the winter break, including Jan. 3.  

HIDOE guidance also states that you cannot report to your worksite, nor should you work from home. HSTA fully supports this guidance. If the employer is not going to pay you for the teacher workday, you should not engage in work.

We suggest that you consider further modifications to your instructional plans for Jan. 5–8. You should plan to adjust as you will not have the preparation time on Jan. 4 to do things like charge devices, arrange furniture for HIDOE health guidelines, thoroughly plan for instruction and work on your report card grades. The furlough day may mean that teachers rely on more student self-directed type lessons on Jan. 5, which don’t need as much preparation. 

What should I do if I had planned to use Jan. 4 to prepare for the resumption of in-person instruction? 

We recognize that some schools were planning to change their instructional models to allow for more significant numbers of students on campus for in-person instruction on Jan. 5. If you are not going to be prepared for teaching because you could not set up your classroom or make other adjustments on Jan. 4 (now a furlough day), we suggest that you notify your administration right away and ask for guidance. Some teachers have already requested that their principal delay the first day of in-person learning because of the furloughs. You may want to consider similar requests of your principal and complex area superintendent.

How will I see the furlough day reflected in my paycheck? 

HSTA does not know. We are trying to get clarification from the employer. We currently expect that teachers will see a reduction in their Jan. 20 and Feb. 20 paychecks. Once we confirm this information, we will update this answer.

What about teachers at public charter schools? Will we see furloughs? 

If you are an employee at a public charter school, we still do not have specifics on impacts to public charter school funding. The state has provided very little information about how it will carry out planned furloughs or cuts for charter schools. So far, the state’s only response to HSTA from Ryker Wada, Department of Human Resources Development director and chief negotiator, has been that “adjustments will be made to the overall charter school weighted average per-pupil amount based on budget adjustments to the Department of Education’s budget,” and “furlough saving reductions will be calculated for each charter school in the same manner that collective bargaining pay raises are calculated. How each charter school decides to comply with the required budget reductions is up to each charter school.”

If you are a charter teacher and get word from your employer that you will be laid off or have imposed salary reductions or furloughs, please contact your HSTA UniServ Director immediately or contact us here and we will make sure someone follows up.

What happens to teachers employed at charter schools but funded by the HIDOE, e.g., special education teachers?

We don’t know. We have asked the employer and have not received a clear answer.

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