CTU claims Passages Charter School is forcing teachers back without safety agreement

Weeks after the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools finally hammered out a deal to safely return students and staff to school buildings, the union says a North Side charter school operator is backing out of a promise to agree to enforceable safety standards before reopening.

The union claims Asian Human Services, which runs Passages Charter School in Andersonville, broke off negotiations with the union after previously committing to a back-to-school agreement that would be based on scientific metrics including positivity rate and case counts.

CTU’s deal with CPS does not cover charter schools, whose operators negotiate directly with the union.

Teachers were caught off guard by an email Passages sent to parents last month announcing the school’s reopening on March 8, the union said, despite having no safety agreement in place.

"Rank and file CTU educators have been horrified by management’s reversal of position, and are meeting Thursday evening to consider next steps, which could range from a grievance to a job action," the union said in a statement.

In a statement, Passages said the school has "reached agreement on a significant number of proposals with the CTU that ensure a healthy and safe working environment for teachers and staff, on matters ranging from the amount of personal protective equipment to be provided to the extensive deep cleaning that will occur in the building on a regular basis."


The charter school claims teachers are refusing to report to work in person, and that the union’s outstanding issues revolve around questions of "teachers’ ability to teach remotely from home through the remainder of the school year, the impact of teacher evaluations for poor performance, and the basis for Passages’ decision to return to in-person learning."

Another bargaining session is set for Friday afternoon, Passages said.

Passages, which has 360 students, serves "an overwhelmingly low-income student population that is roughly half Black, almost 30% Asian, and over 15% Latinx," according to the union. Passages educators represented by the union last went on strike in October 2019 for better wages, working conditions and protections for immigrant students, among others.