The union that represents teachers and school employees in the Monroe County School District has filed a complaint with the state about the district engaging in unfair labor practices.

The complaint stems from the negotiations in the teacher’s memorandum of understanding, which deals with the districts’ COVID-19 procedures. After two months of negotiating the memorandum with the union, the board did not approve the memorandum but instead “the board took unilateral action to make masks optional for staff, without consulting with the teacher’s union about it,” said Holly Hummell-Gorman, the teachers union representative.

The memorandum called for the mask requirement to be kept in place until the end of the semester. However, the board at an October meeting removed the mask requirement from the memorandum.

The union has since filed a complaint with the state Public Employees Relations Commission asking for the district to admit it made a mistake, pay for the union’s legal fees and for the district to go back to the status quo memorandum from Aug. 11, Hummell-Gorman said.

The board’s unilateral decision violates collective bargaining laws, which are covered in the state Constitution, Hummell-Gorman said.

“They are not following the proper process, which the decision disrespects the hard work by both the union and the district’s bargaining teams,” Hummell-Gorman said.

The school district did not respond to The Key West Citizen’s request for comment before press time.

A hearing to resolve the dispute had been set for Dec. 16, but the union’s attorney could not make that meeting and the hearing will be rescheduled, Hummell-Gorman said.

On the advice of the School District’s Attorney, School District Superintendent Theresa Axford declined comment, citing that the issue is pending litigation.