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Correspondence from BFS Administration, BFS Colleagues, and former Clerks

Letters of support and concern
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Mark




October 2, 2020

Hello DK!

I hope you are well. Bill and I have really appreciated your help these past few weeks and I hope that you can help me schedule a Clearness Committee with the Care Committee to further discuss my concerns concerning BFS.

While the past month and a half have been difficult, I have remained hopeful knowing that quiet conversations were happening between BMM, BFS's Administration, and the Union. Sadly, today I received an update from Nancy Black, Ben Warnke, and Alice Pope detailing where the conversations stand. Two days before a planned strike that would have devastating impacts on the school, according to my reading of this update, it seems the BFS Administration is refusing to hear alternate perspectives.

The former clerks write,
"We asked them to meet with our experts in labor-management relations in order to understand that there are alternatives to traditional adversarial approaches. Since they were unwilling to do so, we sent them a document contrasting adversarial and partnership approaches, along with a letter urging them again to withdraw the NLRB petition. Our two Quaker experts in labor relations also sent a letter explaining in greater detail alternatives to dissolving the union (letters, document on labor relations approaches, and revised proposal attached). We have not yet received any response from the Board to these communications, sent 9/23/20.

On 9/28/20, we sent a letter (attached) to the Administration/Board expressing the urgent need to forestall a strike due to many potentially catastrophic outcomes of a strike. We have had no response to this letter, sent 9/28/20.

The Former Clerks end their letter expressing deep concerns about the very survival of Brooklyn Friends School and I share their concerns. Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the leadership of a Quaker school would disregard the basic tenants of our faith, listening.

As Quakers, Faith and Practice teaches us that the way to solve concerns is through the light, through witnessing each other's testimonies and being open to new ways forward. That the BFS Leadership refuses to engage, to meet, to listen to alternate approaches to bargaining is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, I feel this lack of willingness to meet and listen seems to be a trend.

  • It was from a place of feeling unheard that the Colleagues of BFS formed the Union
  • Prior to submitting for NLRB clarification, Leadership does not report meeting with the Union to raise concerns
  • Since the submission of the NLRB request, Leadership has been unresponsive to the parent community of BFS and the union

This goes against everything my Quaker family stands for and is deeply troubling to me. How can one find a peaceful way forward without listening to shared truths? How can the current leadership be entrusted to teach our children the tenets of our faith, if when in one of the most challenging periods of our school they are not open to fully engaging with the BFS community?

I do not feel the current Board and Head of School are following the Essential Principles and I am not alone.

With great sadness, I am led to request deep consideration of the current Board Leadership. I would like clearness in their ability to meet the essential principles of the school. Given the deadlock of the current conflict, I seek reflection on the faithfulness of the current Board to continue in their role. I believe there is a way to move the school forward, stronger than before, and that must be through deep listening.

I am one parent of many, Quaker like myself and non-Quaker, with weighty concerns. I feel led to request witness to the distress in the BFS community, the many truths of how this conflict is impacting families, teachers, building staff, and students. I feel this is a matter critical enough to merit an agenda item on the upcoming Quarterly Meeting's agenda on October 18th.

In Friendship,
Bill Guy and Andrea Magiera-Guy

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