The Oaxaca school where teachers were absent for 12 days. The Oaxaca school where teachers were absent for 12 days.

Teachers must be fired for missing classes

Judge rules in case where teachers took 12 days off to engage in job action

A judge has ruled that at least 60 Oaxaca teachers must be dismissed after they missed 12 consecutive days of classes to participate in strike action during the 2014-2015 school year.

The decision was handed down in response to legal action initiated by a student from the town of San Pablo Etla against the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) and the Oaxaca State Institute of Public Education (IEEPO).

Judge Francisco Rebolledo Peña determined that the two authorities had violated the law by not acting to stop the prolonged job action at the Justo Sierra Primary School in June 2015 and thereby guarantee the minor’s legal right to education.

Under Article 76 of the General Teaching Service Law, a teacher who misses more than three consecutive days of work without justification must be dismissed.

The dissident CNTE teachers’ union, which frequently stages strikes in the state, organized the 12-day stoppage to protest against a teacher evaluation system introduced as part of the federal government’s education reform.

During the hearing, educational authorities presented records which they argued proved that the teachers had not been on strike but had been absent from school because they attended a course aimed at improving their pedagogical practices in the classroom.

However, the judge ruled that the educational interests of students take precedent over a “supposed” course and also established that the evidence submitted had been fabricated.

“These records created by IEEPO authorities correspond to an invention with the aim of justifying the workers’ absenteeism, a simulation that is an offense to federal justice and cannot be permitted,” Rebolledo said.

The judge set a period of 20 days for the authorities to remove the teachers from their posts although they still have the option to mount a legal challenge against the decision.

The harsh penalty for the educators came despite a lawyer for the claimant stressing that the legal action was directed at educational authorities rather than the 60 to 80 teachers who will be affected by the judge’s decision.

“The amparo [injunction] is not against the actions of the teachers but against the failures of state and federal [education] authorities to apply what the law states and protect the minors’ right to learn . . .” Claudia Aguilar said.

The student’s legal team also stated that she has been subjected to various forms of bullying and harassment at school since she filed the injunction in July 2015, including instances where teachers tried to fail her in retaliation for the stance she took.

The director of the education advocacy group Mexicanos Primero (Mexicans First), Juan Alfonso Mejía, described the judge’s ruling as “historic” because it sets a precedent that establishes that the head of the federal Education Secretariat must ensure that the IEEPO complies with its core role of guaranteeing the right to education for the children of Oaxaca.

He also said it “empowers all the teachers who reject the harassment . . . from the union leaders of section 22 of the CNTE and who are left to their own devices because of the indifference of the responsible officials.”

“No teacher should have to attend marches against their will and whoever does so unjustifiably, affecting the right of children to learn, will be removed from their job.”

Source: Animal Político (sp)

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