The two co-presidents of the Morris Jeff Association of Educators, a newly formed teacher’s union, met with the board of director’s governance committee Thursday night.

The meeting marked the first time since the union’s formation that it publicly discussed with the school’s board of directors the future of the school as it relates to the new group.

“Last board meeting, we weren’t clear about where we would be going and how we would be developing strategies for collaboration,” said board vice president Wanda Anderson-Guillaume.

Anderson-Guillaume emphasized that the burden would fall heavily on the union, and that union members would be responsible for scheduling times to meet with board members and discuss issues.

“We’ll be talking about processes with the board, not necessarily working with you on how to set up your entity,” Anderson-Guillaume said. “There will be no meeting set just to address the Morris Jeff Association of Educators.”

“You are your own entity, and whenever you want to come to us, you certainly can,” she added.

On Thursday, union co-presidents Tiana Nobile and Rowan Shafer sat down to talk with committee members about everything from potential charter revisions to the possibility of engaging a labor attorney for future questions.

“We’re excited to be a part of the process,” Shafer said. “We haven’t said what we want to focus on yet, as we’re still focused on our internal structure.”

Board secretary Belinda Cambre suggested that the union members start by becoming acquainted with the charter. That way, union members will be better equipped to make potential changes, she said.

“If it’s minor we can do that internally, but major things have to be approved by BESE,” Cambre said.

Cambre added that it’s possible the union won’t have to make changes at all to the charter in order to get results they’re looking for.

Shafer asked if it was possible for a union member to join the board of directors.

Aesha Rasheed, the board’s president, said it would be a conflict of interest to have a member of the nonprofit board who is also an employee of the school.

Cambre added that someone from the union could possibly be an ex-officio member, so they could partake in board meetings without having the right to vote on executive decisions.

“We’ve talked about making a parent an ex-officio,” Cambre said. “There’s ways it can be done.”

Jennifer Weishaupt added that a representative of the union should come to all the board meetings even if they’re not officially part of the board.

“It makes sense for one person to be the focal point,” Weishaupt said.

Board members also talked about how to stagger their terms, because several members of the board are set to end a three-year term at the same time.

Rasheed suggested the board spend time re-doing the bylaws.

Allen Square, the president of the Pride Prepatory Academy board of directors and a member of the MJCS governance committee, suggested that they draw straws to decide who got longer terms.

“My board did that,” Square said. “I got the long straw.”

Rasheed added that the board could potentially bring new members in soon, and that the board should also make sure that the new members’ terms don’t all end at the same time.

“We could create various entry points,” Rasheed said.

Besides Rasheed, Anderson-Guillaume, Cambre, Weishaupt and Square, treasurer Melissa Jagers was present.

Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative...