PS 175 Chapter Leader Tanya Pragados stood her ground against her principal when she tried to unilaterally departmentalize two 3rd-grade classes without the contractually required school-based option vote.
“I was upset that we had been ignored,” Pragados said.
This past January, the Harlem school staff returned from winter break to the news that one 3rd-grade teacher would teach English language arts and social studies while the other would teach math and science for the remainder of the school year, effective that very week, even though one of the teachers was not happy with the change.
The chapter leader called an emergency consultation committee meeting with the principal to raise the matter. “You can’t do this,” she told the principal. “The contract requires we must have an SBO vote to decide on departmentalization in the 3rd grade.”
But the principal refused to rescind the decision.
Pragados met with her consultation committee to discuss next steps. Pragados, who says she prefers to approach issues “quietly,” felt she had no choice but to tackle head-on her principal’s refusal to abide by the contract.
With the support of her full committee, she called an SBO vote to demonstrate the unity of the chapter. Forty of the school’s 44 UFT members participated in the SBO vote, with 31 voting against departmentalizing the 3rd grade. “The numbers speak, the union speaks and we are standing tall,” Pragados said.
An ELL coordinator, Pragados has worked at PS 175 for 16 years and has served as the school’s chapter leader for a year and a half.
“We could not be more proud,” said 5th-grade teacher Tamara Smalls, who serves on the consultation committee. “Tanya has galvanized the staff and gotten us very active and involved.”