President's Updates

President's Update December 21, 2023

Happy Holidays TEA! It has been far too long since I last sent out anything. My apologies for not sending out more communications during the last six weeks. I would normally have said that there have been a lot of fires to attend to…but…I have learned my lesson and will no longer be saying that any issue is “something on fire” or a “dumpster fire” because in the last six weeks….there have literally been multiple fires, one which still encompasses much of what the district is dealing with. 

Happy Holidays TEA!

It has been far too long since I last sent out anything. My apologies for not sending out more communications during the last six weeks. I would normally have said that there have been a lot of fires to attend to…but…I have learned my lesson and will no longer be saying that any issue is “something on fire” or a “dumpster fire” because in the last six weeks….there have literally been multiple fires, one which still encompasses much of what the district is dealing with. 

During this whole situation with the Hangar Fire, you as educators showed me daily, even more than usual, your amazingness and work ethic. While TEA was working to at least make sure that planning time was built in and that online was minimal (because we all know how well it doesn’t always work and a full day, bell to bell,  with all students would not have worked). While it didn’t feel minimal at the time please know that TEA was working during that time to ensure that you were given some time to transition amongst other constant work to try to make things more bearable for our members. Between reaching out to the school board and explaining the obstacles of online learning and constant calls with the district. The choice was not one that we personally would have chosen, but TEA was able to at least massage and work with them to make it easier than it might have been. While my words cannot give you back the time, nor the adequate amount of appreciation you deserve, please know that I see you, I am honored to work with and for you, and you deserve so much more for your ability to not only switch on a dime and change everything for the good of our Tustin community, but with the sheer devotion of people who love those that you do this job with and for. I am proud to be a Tustin educator, not because of the district's long storied history, but because I share this amazing title with so many incredible hard working Tustin educators. You all make me want to be and do better. Our community, our students, our district and most especially YOUR union are lucky to have each of you be a Tustin Educator. 

Here’s the latest from TEA:  

  • Voting Results- 
    • We have passed, by 93.8%, the agreed upon 1.5% additional on compensation, to be added to our previously agreed upon 2% for the year. That means that your paycheck at the end of January will reflect the increase for a total of 3.5% higher than last year, but 1.5% increase since your December paycheck. The retroactive payment for the additional 1.5% will be in your March payments and will cover the time period of August- December.  
  • Friday December 22 - Non Student Day
    • This Friday is a non-student day but it IS a teacher report day. This happens every year where our office starts getting calls saying one site or another doesn’t have to report. I wish I could report that it is a day we all could work from home, but the reality is that we ALL must report. TEA has been told that sites do check in and check out. If you work from home and do not report, even if you have done this before, you most likely will get a call from the district. If you did not call in and you have not checked in, you will be docked a day and run the risk of being written up for not being at school on a non-student day. 
  • Paychecks - 
    • The payment for our December paychecks has always been a question as to when it will ultimately drop into our accounts. Normally, the paychecks are due to arrive on the last day of the month, but due to the last day being a Sunday, that would then put it on the first. The problem with this year is that the first is a bank holiday, as is the second. That means that if you receive your check it should be reading on January 3rd. I have been told that it is the county Office of Ed. that handles this and that if you receive an automatic deposit into the credit union, they believe that you may see it in your account on Friday or Saturday instead. I have personally called to ask the county and the credit union for verification, but I apologize that at this time I do not have an answer. I can say that they have almost always done this, they just haven’t always sent out an email saying it’s coming on the 3d. 
  • Wear your Support - 
    • All Sweatshirts/ T-shirts have finally been delivered to the office. Thank you for your patience. They have all been boxed up and have been picked up by TUSD mail. Our fingers are crossed that everyone who ordered has them no later than Friday. Enjoy and wear them as often as possible. It is great to go onsite and see the TEA pride (and it helps that they are bright red to easily see). 
    • Where is TEA? If you happen to be wearing TEA pride and you are vacationing over break, going to different sites, or are just somewhere fun - take a picture and let us know where you took TEA. Just follow this link to the google drive and drop your picture in. I can’t wait to see where you take us this break! ADD PICTURES HERE or you can send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Additional ongoing Conversations with the District:
    • Induction - TEA has worked with TUSD as it pertains to induction and it appears that the process will work exactly like it did last year. Thank you for your patience and understanding. This means that all fees will be charged up front and once you complete your year you will be refunded half the cost from TUSD. They should have something closer to the end of the year that will ask for those taking induction outside of the district to give them that information and those that are in the district program should be refunded automatically.
    • Special Education - As always there are a multitude of items being discussed as it pertains to Special Education, TEA is also meeting with Kate Christmas on December 22nd to review these topics. 
      • SAI Caseloads - We have heard that some sites have reached their Ed. Code cap of 28 for the SAI Caseload. If that is the case, please let TEA know. We are monitoring and want to make sure that Ed. Code is being honored in all cases. Once you reach 28 TUSD is able to ask you to sign a waiver, they both have to ask and have to offer the waiver which is to be signed by you, TUSD and TEA. At that time you may go as high as 32, but then Ed. code states that you would be offered additional aide support in order to handle the increase to your workload. 
      • SLP Case Averages - We continue to work as it pertains to the averages throughout the district. We are interested to know how SLP caseloads are maintained and whether they have been added to caseloads. 
      • Movement at Sites - We continue to work regarding the many changes that seem to keep being made during the school year. We understand that there is a balance between caseloads and workload, but we do not agree that constant movement of staff during the school year is good for our educators or the students they serve. 
      • Gen Ed. Teachers being told to cover IEPs for students not on their class lists. This is especially a problem at one site. This is also not something we are doing against special ed. teachers, this is something where TEA believes that all educators should be supported. TEA has already offered some solutions and is meeting with the district on Friday, December 22nd. 
      • Change of placement forms changing and workload expectations with that. 
      • iReady training - it being held during the work day without enough subs available and after school, while paid, not an option those mandated to attend want.
      • DRDP Training for Sped Teachers in Elementary  
  • Formal Evaluations and Observations - We continue to monitor and discuss the timelines as it pertains to being on the observation list. TEA followed up with the district and we have been told that all lists for who is to be formally evaluated have been updated at each site since the last update. Please let TEA know if there are any questions or concerns. Site Admin. Are allowed by ED. Code to formally evaluate as often as they like (yearly vs. five years). Even if you have been put on the five year evaluation cycle. While this isn’t fun or ideal for us, it actually is placing more work on the admin. Themselves. The Ed. Code that was written to create the five year reprieve was not to help teachers, it was meant to help admin. Lessen their work loads. If admin. Comes in and wants to formally evaluate yearly, it stinks, but they are allowed, legally, to do this.  
  • Teacher Safety and their rights as it pertains to the classroom - This is a VERY big item at the moment. We continue to hear and discuss with the district, and even some site admin, the issues that reach us, and we are aware that there are most likely many more issues happening that we just do not even hear about. Please take a look at the Rights section of this update for more information.
    • If you are dealing with issues, or after reading this section of the contract you think you have dealt with this, or this occurs anytime in the future here is an easy list of the first things to do to ensure that you have representation and that we can help to make the classrooms a safe place for you and your students. 
      • If you call the police, make sure that TEA and your site admin. Get the case number.   
      • You DO have the right to call the police. - That should not be an afterthought and you should not second guess yourself. You have the right to have a safe workspace (that is in contract, board policy and Ed. Code).You will find that more often than not the police will be very helpful and will even work with you. They want us to be safe as well doing our job. 
      • Fill out a site based report and workers comp form (for any injury, especially broken skin….etc) - please take care of yourself and make sure that you are OK physically and mentally. 
      • Document the instance in question, take pictures, keep a journal. It is additional work, but it helps in the long run.  
      • Let TEA know - reach out to your site rep and TEA President. 
      • Call and let the admin know, email is the best to make sure everyone has a copy of the information being shared. 
    • Secondary
      • Intervention Pull Out - concerns were brought and so far the situation is already changing. TEA shared concerns pre fire and now post fire regarding students being out for a full class, grading (who is doing grading and who is having to meet with parents regarding grading) etc. More information is due to follow in the new year. 
      • Tier One/ RCD - In a discussion with Dr. Matos we did have her say that the summative tests do not all have to be uniform across the district. The idea is that everyone gives a test from the unit that they have designed together (district wide). Some sections have multiple tests that the groups created and you are free to use any, within that unit, as long as it was created during the planning year or lab year. The issue is when there is only one test created for a unit, then it would end up being everyone using the same test district wide. 
      • High School Bell Schedule/ Work Minutes - They are still working on this and the committee, with representation from sites and TEA, are still working. All items were delayed due to the Hangar Fire. 
  • KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Each of you should have gotten a copy of this in your site based mailbox, but I also want to send it to you digitally to have on hand. Please keep the site based one where you can see it and refer to it if needed. Click on the pages to open:


  • Our Contract Rights/ Your Rights - SAFETY 
    • Because it seems to be such a problem, at ALL levels at this time. Here is some information from our contract, and Ed. Code as it pertains to teachers rights regarding our own safety. We understand that a portion states that teachers should call the police. While it is hard to imagine us having to make that choice, the stories we are hearing from sites leads us to reassure you that THIS IS IN YOUR RIGHTS AND YOU ARE ALLOWED AND ENCOURAGED TO DO THIS - you cannot teach if you do not feel safe or if you are being assaulted by students. 
    • Contract 9.4 - Assault and/or Battery on a Bargaining Unit Member   
      • 9.4.1 In the event that a bargaining unit member is allegedly assaulted and/or battered, as hereinafter defined, the following procedure shall be followed:    
        • The bargaining unit member shall report the incident to his/her immediate supervisor and to the appropriate police officials within twenty-four (24) hours after the incident.      
          • A full written report shall be submitted at the earliest possible time to the immediate supervisor.  
        • The immediate supervisor shall conduct an investigation of the matter and submit a written report to the Chief Personnel Officer/Designee within three (3) work days after the receipt of the bargaining unit member's written report. 
          • The bargaining unit member shall receive a copy of this report. 
        •  The Chief Personnel Officer/Designee shall conduct a hearing on the matter if necessary, or if requested by the unit member.  
          • A minimum of forty-eight (48) hours notice shall be given to the bargaining unit member prior to the hearing. 
        • At the hearing, the bargaining unit member shall be given an opportunity to:   be represented by counsel  present evidence  cross-examine witnesses  
          • The bargaining unit member may submit a written statement directly to the Board of Education.   
        • A Hearing Committee shall include the Chief Personnel Officer/Designee, a second representative from the District and a member of the Association.   
          • The Committee shall recommend a disposition of the case to the Superintendent.   
          • The Superintendent shall respond in writing to the bargaining unit member concerning the position of the District.  
      • 9.4.7 Definitions:   
        • "Assault" as defined in Section 240, California Penal Code. An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. 
        • "Battery" as defined in Section 242, California Penal Code. A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. 
      • ADDITIONAL - 9.5.2 In the administration of discipline on the campuses, the District agrees to give all reasonable support and assistance to the bargaining unit members. 


  • IFT (Institute For Teaching) GRANT application window opened December 1ST -
    •  IFT helps all students and schools by awarding grants directly to CTA members and local chapters. To date, CTA members have funded 569 grant projects totaling more than $6.7 million. All CTA members are eligible to apply for an Educator grant (up to $5,000) or an Impact grant (up to $20,000).
    • IFT grant applications are open from Friday, December 1, 2023 through Sunday, March 31, 2024. All applicants must be active CTA members and must complete the online application. Applicants can apply for either an Educator Grant up to $5,000 or an Impact Grant up to $20,000 (must be a team of educators). Awarded grants will be implemented during the 2024-2025 school year.
    • Go to the Webpage HERE to see Past Grants Awarded and get ideas. 
    • Click HERE or below to see the new application process booklet to help with the process. 


  • CTA/NEA Benefits - As members of TEA you are also members of the larger unions at the state level 
    • Conferences - 

  • Register now for the 2024 Good Teaching Conference!
    • Offering a variety of diverse workshops focused on classroom management and curriculum content areas for K-12 teachers, the Good Teaching Conference provides opportunities for professional development and offers time to network and share ideas with colleagues and recognized experts in the field of education.

  • Classroom Set-Up Grant - Brand New Active Full-Time CTA Members in good standing; Brand New Full-Time TK-14 Classroom Educators who are within their first year of teaching in the State of California; and who are CTA members who have not worked nor have been CTA members previously in a different California school district.; and filing within 12 months from their Employment Start Date starting June 1, 2023, or after. This would apply to Special Education educators who purchase supplies for a designated learning space and who meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • Virtual Retirement Workshops


  • Changes and Additional Coverage from THE STANDARD - 
    • CTA members who experience any of the life events below may qualify for the Family Status Change enrollment opportunity. That means they're eligible to apply for CTA-endorsed Disability insurance and up to $400,000 of CTA-endorsed Life insurance1 from The Standard, without having to answer health questions,2 as long as they apply within 60 days of the qualifying event.
      • Marriage, divorce or legal separation
      • Initiation or dissolution of a domestic partner relationship 
      • Birth or adoption of a child
      • Death of a spouse/domestic partner or child
      • Commencement or termination of a spouse/domestic partner’s employment
      • Change in employment from full-time to part-time by member or member’s spouse/domestic partner
    • Members have 60 days from the event to apply or make a change. They can apply online at
      • 1 Coverage reduces to 65% of the amount in force at age 70, 45% of the amount in force at age 75 and 30% of the amount in force at age 80. Offer not available to retirees. 2 If any previous application submitted with proof of good health was denied by The Standard, then proof of good health will be required. For costs and further details of the coverage, including exclusions, benefit waiting periods, any reductions or limitations and the terms under which the policy may be continued in force, please contact Standard Insurance Company at 800.522.0406. Standard Insurance Company, 1100 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204.    GP190-LIFE/S399/CTA.3    GP190-LTD/S399/CTA.1
      • Need to file a disability claim, or learn more about THE STANDARD - click here for more information or for video instructions.

As we go into this much needed break please take care of yourselves, do things that find you joy and happiness, rest, relax, ENJOY your much deserved time off. Surround yourselves with those you love, or if you prefer no one at all. Just do what you want - the planning and worry for the start of January will pass and will still be there on January 8th. This is your time, our time, to recharge - you have earned this and deserve this!! Just write it down and go back to the holiday candy, cookies, cakes (and anything that normally has calories, but does not during a holiday season). TEA is sending you all the best wishes for the New Year and a Happy break to all!!! 

Please know that over the break our office will be closed, and I am under orders to turn off my phone for a little while (at least the first full week of break a few days of January). All emails will also be forwarded for that short time. We will have people checking our office messages so if you have anything that is life saving you need (legal counsel, death in family) please feel free to leave a message at 714.505.6365 

Have a great holiday break! 

In Unity,

Lisa Hickman
President, Tustin Educators Association
Teacher, Heideman Elementary School 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Phone: (714) 505-6365
FAX: (714) 505-6370