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Statement by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on the Department of Labor’s investigation of Prince George’s County Public Schools

WASHINGTON - April 06, 2011 -

According to the Department of Labor, Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland willfully violated the law when it exploited a group of international teachers who came to the United States under the Department’s H-1B visa program.  The H-1B is a program designed to recruit qualified, certified professionals from other countries. Teachers were required to pay thousands of dollars in visa and placement fees that, by law, should have been covered by the school district. 

 “These teachers are our members and they deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of where they were born or when they arrived. Their mistreatment by the school district is blatant and appalling.

“The situation in Prince George’s County raises a bigger issue about recruiting teachers internationally. We need a set of standards that addresses the employment needs of school districts, while protecting the rights of teachers. Recruitment agencies that work with school districts to hire teachers from abroad must be regulated.  Without oversight, this becomes a lose/lose scenario where teachers from overseas—who we ought to consider a cultural resource—are exploited instead.     

“We are pleased that the Department of Labor decided to conduct this investigation and help focus attention on the issue of exploited teachers, a problem which is not unique to Prince George’s County.  Next week, NEA will host the Education International Task Force on Teacher Migration where we will discuss this very topic. It’s important to deal with these issues upfront and help establish globally recognized standards to protect the rights of teachers everywhere.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Laila Hirschfeld  (202) 822-7823,