After committee meetings about the Racine Unified employee handbook were canceled last month, district lawyers are recommending they remain on hiatus until issues related to Act 10 can be worked out.

The Journal Times is reporting that Gib Berthelsen and Jim Korom, lawyers for the district, told board members and Superintendent Lolli Haws that the meetings likely violate Act 10 so until a determination is made about whether or not the committee is legal, the committee should not reconvene.

The meeting took place Tuesday in closed session.

In a nutshell, the current handbook allows for employee feedback about changes through their respective unions and a committee process. The school board is not held to those recommendations and can vote changes up or down as they see fit.

Administrators first proposed changes last month to the employee handbook that included how teachers are hired, pay for extra duties like committees and training, and broadening the definition of a sick day to include caring for a sick child.

Employee unions objected to the changes and the way measures were introduced and insisted the district follow handbook protocol by participating in committee meetings. The school board May 18 narrowly rejected removing from the handbook the section that defines how changes are made.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty said that because the Board of Education formed the committee and gave it a clear direction, any meetings of the group should have been noticed. Not doing so violated the state’s open meetings law.

Berthelsen and Korom also told District officials that if committee meetings do resume, they should be open and noticed for the public as such, the story continues.

“I recommended to the superintendent that committee meetings not be held without there being notice of those meetings,” Berthelsen is quoted as saying. “Beyond that I recommended to her that the meetings not be held at all until the board takes on these issues having to do with Act 10 and resolves them; hopefully that will be quickly.”

Teachers, union representatives and members of the community held a rally Wednesday at Mitchell School to push for committee meetings to resume, but School Board President Melvin Hargrove told the newspaper that he wasn’t sure when another meeting would be scheduled.

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