WHEREAS, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) recruited 1,000 foreign teachers under the H1-B Visa Program, between 2004-2009, in order to comply with the requirements of the “ No Child Left Behind” law.
WHEREAS, these teachers, most of whom came from the Philippines, made extreme personal sacrifices – including selling their homes and exhausting their savings – in order to fulfill an urgent need in the Prince Georges County Public Schools to serve American students.
WHEREAS, in April 2011, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a ruling against PGCPS for making illegal deductions to the teachers’ wages to cover for various visa processing and placement fees that should have been shouldered by the county.
WHEREAS, the DOL Administrator imposed the following remedies against PGCPS: 1) $4 million payment in back wages to the teachers; 2) $1.7 million civil penalty payment; and 3) debarment from hiring any more foreign teachers for the next two years.
WHEREAS, PGCPS agreed to the terms set forth by the DOL Administrator, and informed the teachers that PGCPS would not be renewing their visas or assisting them in the processing of their green cards, as originally promised.
WHEREAS, this recent DOL decision will result in a series of terminations of Filipino educators and other foreign teachers, with more than 1,000 PGCPS international teachers to be deported starting this month.
WHEREAS, these teachers have made an overall positive impact on their students during their brief tenure and provided a high-level of service for the citizens of this county.
WHEREAS, terminating these teachers would be a disservice to these students who need the care and attention of these certified, highly qualified and technologically savvy educators.
WHEREAS, the teachers, through the Pilipino Educators Network, requested a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis twice in May 2011 but schedule constraints did not permit her to do so.
WHEREAS, on July 15, hundreds of PG County teachers and their supporters protested in front of the DOL and later met with DOL officials, including the Deputy Solicitor, who promised to convey the teachers’ concerns and appeals to higher officials in the department.
WHEREAS, APALA stands in solidarity with the teachers in Prince George’s County and fully supports their quest for justice.
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that APALA urge the Department of Labor to reconsider making the debarment ruling against PGCPS prospective, instead of retroactive, so it will not affect the teachers who are currently in this country and provide an immediate remedy that is fair and just to these diligent and dedicated teachers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance mount a campaign to educate its affiliates regarding the practice of hiring international teachers, and work together with the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to collect information on current loopholes in international worker recruitment through third party agencies to ensure viable options to workers when employers are at fault.
Submitted by the APALA-DC Chapter
July 21, 2011