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Portland Public Schools Classified Workers Union States “Crisis of Confidence”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 3, 2016
 
Contact:
Andrew Gorry, andrewg@aft-oregon.org, 971-888-5665
Belinda Reagan, belinda@pfsp111.org, 503-236-3497
 
PORTLAND, OR—Today, in response to the escalating lead exposure crisis and new reports of radon exposure at Portland Public Schools, Belinda Reagan, the president of Portland Federation of School Professionals (PFSP), Local 111, AFT-Oregon, AFL-CIO, issued a statement expressing a lack of faith in PPS leadership.
 
“Parents are calling for Superintendent Carole Smith to resign, and I don’t blame them,” said Reagan. “Our primary concern is for our city’s children, and I have similar worries for our school workers, who feel deceived. Dangerous facts have been hidden from all of us. We have grave concerns that we’re not working in safe, healthy schools.”
 
PFSP represents over 1,400 classified employees at Portland Public Schools, including secretaries, paraeducators, educational assistants, physical and occupational therapists, security agents, sign language interpreters, and dozens of other employee groups.
 
Responding to the placing on leave of two senior officials, Reagan called for full accountability from the top down. “We’re in a crisis of confidence. This pattern of avoidance, half-measures, and dangerous silence is all too typical of upper management. They seem to believe that if you hide problems, they’ll go away.”
 
Reagan expressed solidarity with worried parents and agreement with recent public comments by Gwen Sullivan, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, that have been critical of PPS leadership.  
 
“PFSP is not taking this information lightly.  We are alarmed for the health and safety of students in our care, and we are distressed that district employees have been kept in the dark regarding these findings and exposed to tainted water and air.”
 
“Students, parents, staff, and faculty—we’re all in this together. We all need a safe place to work and learn. We don’t deserve to be poisoned. We demand the full, immediate truth about our level of exposure, now, and everything that’s happened on Superintendent Smith’s watch.”
 
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