Victory on ECCAT Issue

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AFT-West Virginia is proud to inform our members that the Early Childhood Classroom Assistant Teacher (ECCAT) system has been drastically altered based upon the union's discussion and consultation with the WV Department of Education.

As many of you know, the ECCAT policy originally required a person to be employed in an ECCAT position prior to being able to pursue the ECCAT certification (WVDE Policy 5202). This created a major problem since service personnel hiring, in accordance with WV Code 18A-4-8b, creates a tiered system with first preference given to regularly employed service personnel who are otherwise qualified for the position. This situation created a "catch-22" where our most senior aides could not get ECCAT positions because they were not certified and could not get certified because they could not win ECCAT positions, despite their otherwise senior status.

While other organizations pursued easier but ineffective avenues to address this problem, AFT reached out and worked with the WVDE to explain this problem and propose solutions to fix the issue at its core – that is, the relationship between WVDE Policy 5202 and WV Code 18A-4-8b. The solution to this problem, which was recently approved by the WV State Board of Education on December 14, 2016, is a waiver of the requirement that aides be in an ECCAT position prior to pursuing ECCAT certification. This will allow any aide employed by a county board of education to pursue ECCAT certification and, once they are certified, apply for and attain these ECCAT positions.

AFT is grateful to the WVDE for working with us in resolving this issue for the betterment of service personnel. It is our hope that resolution of this issue demonstrates the positive change that can happen for school service personnel when we work collectively.

Lastly, it is our hope that this resolution reaffirms several important values to our members: 1) we listen and value your voice, feedback, and issues; 2) we will work tirelessly to understand and address the issues; and 3) we will pursue all available avenues in order to fix problems.

AFT-West Virginia....solution-driven unionism working for you!