Letter to Staff & Community Regarding Denali’s Closure

Dear Summit families, students, and faculty,

At 4pm on Thursday, February 16th, Summit Public Schools announced that they are sending a “recommendation to the Summit Public Schools Board that they take action on Denali’s closure at their meeting on March 2nd”. We are shocked by this news and deeply disappointed in Summit’s decision to recommend Denali’s closure.

Since the announcement to families on January 11th, we have analyzed Summit’s finances, and found inconsistencies with their accounting and business practices (including closing a school they only recently opened after making large investments in the Sunnyvale property, as well telling the board that they are financially stable as recently as October of 2022). We have worked with the authorizer Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCOE) to pressure Summit to keep Denali open. We have collaborated with the Denali Parent Organization with our actions and information to try to understand why Summit would hurt hundreds of students and faculty members. We organized multiple actions at all school sites to stand in solidarity with Denali and our rights as educators. On January 11th, we sent a demand to bargain to Summit, who delayed two full weeks and countless emails before acknowledging that they had to bargain with Unite Summit (The first meeting was on February 8th, the second February 17th).

When Summit says they have not “yet seen a new idea that will enable Denali to thrive into the future”, we question how hard they were looking for one. Not once in the past few years have they approached the teachers or families to collaborate on the issues arising. Additionally, as recently as on Wednesday, February 15th, Summit leadership told SCCOE that they would continue to strategize and collaborate on how to save Denali for the upcoming years. In total, it took just 36 days for Summit to go from saying “possible closure” to “definite closure”. This is not okay.

Summit’s lack of collaboration or clarity has resulted in families, students, and teachers scrambling to figure out what’s next. They gave no consideration to what the students or families need in order to find soft landings either at one of the other Summit sites or alternate school options. They are refusing to collaborate with Denali teachers to give assurances or a fair process for their involuntary transfer to another school site. Summit is continuously attempting to circumvent their obligation to bargain by continuing a hiring process that is unclear, potentially violating our union rights, and uncooperative with the needs of their teachers.

Summit does hold the ultimate power of decision for Denali. They are not legally accountable to staff, teachers, students, and families in our collective demands to keep Denali open, and it is clear that they will do their minimum obligation and ignore all else; not to care for students, families, or staff.

We can make them care. With our collective voices, we can turn the heat up so high that they have to at least hear our demands. We take inspiration from our colleagues at OUSD who saved multiple school closures just a year ago. We urge everybody to band together and to stand tall in solidarity; to help our students, families, and faculty…to provide safe spaces, security, and a dependable future.

Unite Summit is committed to our mission to help make Summit a better place to work. Right now, that will be to continue our demands that Summit fulfill their legal obligations and bargain the impacts of the layoffs with Denali’s closure. We will continue to fight to protect ALL of our teachers, because we are all Unite Summit. The teachers have rights, and Summit Public Schools needs to learn to respect them.

We are strong, and we are even stronger together. If Summit’s board goes through with this closure on March 2nd, let it be under the pressure of our defiant eyes and drowned by the hundreds of voices that they choose to ignore.

In solidarity,

Justin, Fuchsia, Sam, Dan, and Jessica
Unite Summit Leadership

February PD Actions

February PD is a good time to meet other teachers, and to learn, grow, and develop as an educator. During this year’s February PD, use a Zoom Background and Profile Picture from this folder to show solidarity with our campaigns! We want Summit management to see that all the teachers are in solidarity with each other: to save Denali, to honor our contract, and to respect their teachers.
Additionally, we will be hosting a lunch time Zoom town hall for Unite Summit members on February 22nd. We will be presenting updates on the current situation with all of our campaigns and what we can do to really push Summit to honor our contract and to protect our members. Follow this link at 12:15pm on February 22nd for the zoom!

Membership Dues Correction

We have a small correction to the communication last week on dues collection. Before it was stated that the dues were $95, but they are actually $97 a month. We apologize for the miscommunication. 
Dues will not be retroactive and will be collected according to the 11 month pay calendar (meaning it will not be collected for 1 month out of the year if you are on a 12-month pay schedule). Please look here and here for the benefits of being a part of CTA!

February Newsletter

Denali Update

On February 1st, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) had an agenda item on the closing of Denali schools. A presentation was made by the county’s Charter team that explored the reasons SPS is giving for the abrupt closure news. Denali Parents were out in full force to make statements about how important Denali teachers and schools are to their students, and to ask SCCOE to hold SPS accountable for their lack of transparency and accessibility with regard to finances. Denali teachers were represented by the dedicated Kim Nicholson who gave a great statement. Our concerns were echoed by the board who wanted to know more about why the decision to stop funding Denali was being made now.

They referenced a Summit board resolution from 2012 that Summit Public Schools Home Office “will provide all necessary funds to any of the schools for which it holds a charter.” SCCOE board members voiced deep concerns that SPS is deviating from their own stated policy and commitments. Board members also expressed concern that SPS is not negotiating or meeting with Unite Summit over the proposed closures.

SCCOE are going to keep the Denali Closures issue on the agenda for the foreseeable future. Our outreach to Board members yielded some of the tough questions asked in the meeting and we are going to follow up with a meeting with the President and VP of the SCCOE Board on 2/13. We are excited to see this momentum with both the parents AND the board asking tough questions and putting pressure on SPS. SCCOE is asking SPS Board members to be at the next meeting 2/15.

What can we do next? If you are in the South Bay or Peninsula, please sign up to attend the SCCOE meeting with us on the 15th. We will have buttons, signs, snacks and support for folks who want to speak. Let’s figure out some carpools. It is important we meet the enthusiasm of the parents and the SCCOE members to put the pressure on SPS to SAVE DENALI, be more transparent, and respect Summit Teachers!

Bargaining Team

The bargaining team that was elected in January had their very first meeting last week. They are currently prioritizing bargaining with SPS over the impacts of the potential closure of Denali HS and MS. They have their first meeting with management this week! They are ready to come to the table and fight for our rights as teachers! Please give your bargaining team your love:

Denali HS – Maxine Cheney
Denali MS – Tiffany Pham
Everest – Bridget Miller
Expeditions – Vacant
K2HS – Zenobia Ritter
K2MS – Nicole McMath
Prep – Miles Bennett-Smith
Shasta – Vacant
Tahoma – Doug Wills
Tam HS – Donielle Flot
Tam MS – Savannah Gardner

If you are a Summit educator interested in the vacant positions on the bargaining team, please email unitesummitteachers@gmail.com.

Art Build and Walk-In

SPS needs to come to the bargaining table to honor our rights as teachers. SPS is continuing to disrespect our contract by unfairly compensating teachers for covering lunch, expeditions, or doing “dean for a day”. They are also disrespecting the bargaining process for the potential closure of Denali. We need to hold SPS accountable. 

ON THE WALK IN DAY (2/14), to show SPS and admin how much they need us, do NOT cover lunch, expeditions, or Dean for a Day. This is a one day action we are doing to pressure SPS that they need to fairly come to the bargaining table and NEGOTIATE for these extra duties that are not in the CBA!

This week, please show up to support our contract, our rights, and Denali teachers at an Art Build and poster making party at your school site. You will be making posters to hold at our Walk In action on February 14th. We need to publicly show Summit management that we will stand up for our rights. Get more information from your site rep!

Treasurer Nominations

Our wonderful treasurer Sam Williams needs to step down from the position for personal reasons. He will continue to be able to support a new treasurer with the transition and training, but we are now looking for a new treasurer. Please fill out the form below to nominate yourself or a coworker! https://tinyurl.com/UniteSummitTreasurer 


This month, you should have received an email from CTA that confirms your membership in Unite Summit. As a member, you are supporting our union fighting for your rights, transparency and accountability of SPS, and more. We are only as strong as our members and we want EVERYBODY’s voice to be valued and heard. 

Please look here and here for the benefits of being a part of CTA! Additionally, please expect that dues of $95 a month will be deducted starting with our next paycheck. Dues will not be retroactive and will be collected according to the 11 month pay calendar.

Upcoming Events

We Must Support Denali

During the week of January 9th, teachers, school leaders and families were informed that Summit Public Schools plans to close Denali High School and Denali Middle School, both in Sunnyvale, at the end of this school year. This decision will become final at the June 2023 Summit Board meeting.

We are devastated by the disruption that this news brings to the community of students, families, and staff. Summit’s plan to close these schools will be harmful to our greater Summit community and especially to our young people who have been developing deep relationships with their friends and teachers. With Summit’s ample reserves, we are confused why Summit Public Schools would impose this decision without community or teacher input. Summit Public Schools owes it to our students and families to keep Denali open!

Unite Summit, our teachers union, is appalled by the lack of transparency about this planned closure. We have many questions as to why and how Summit came to this decision and we want to make sure that Summit Public Schools is held accountable to the families and teachers, and that they are making the best decisions for all students. Summit Public School management has refused to acknowledge their contractual and legal obligation to meet with our union over Denali’s closure as well as a variety of other issues that have come up this year. Call on Summit Public Schools to follow the law and bargain with Unite Summit!

Families were notified of the closure in a last minute Q&A session on Wednesday, January 11th that many were unable to attend. The Summit Board also has added a special board meeting added to January 23rd from 1 to 3pm to listen to the public’s concerns. Unite Summit is deeply concerned by the intentional lack of access that these meetings provide to families, teachers, and other stakeholders by having their Board meeting during the work day. We demand a meeting of the school board that accommodates the times and needs of our most affected community members.

This is an absolute failure of Summit’s organizational leadership to adequately serve our communities. While you and your student may not be directly impacted by Denali’s closure, the manner in which the decision was made should be cause for concern for all of our schools. Read our FAQ for more information.

If you would like to support the Denali community, please take the following actions:

If you have any other questions, send an email to UniteSummitTeachers@gmail.com.

Election Results and Next SPS BOD Meeting

Election Results

A huge shout out to everyone who ran for union leadership for the 22-23 school year!

Below are the election results:

President: Justin Kim (K2 MS)
Vice President: Fuchsia Spring (K2 HS)
Treasurer: Sam Williams (Prep)

Site Reps
Denali MS: Allison Lee
Denali HS: Maxine Cheney
Everest: Dean Caudill
Expeditions: Hannah Creutzfeldt
K2 HS: Timothy Hoffelder
K2 MS: Nicole McMath
Prep: Jordyn Doyle
Shasta: Henry Cooper
Tahoma: Marcus Kevorkyan
Tam HS: LaShante Scott
Tam MS: Patrick Wachter

There will be many other ways to be involved in building our union next year, including on two committees created by our contract: the professional development committee and the grievance committee. If you are interested in being involved, please reach out to UniteSummitTeachers@gmail.com

Summit Board Meeting

The next Summit Board meeting is Thursday, June 16 at noon on zoom. The agenda is here and includes approving the Unite Summit contract.

Details of our TA and voting to approve our contract

We are so excited to share our tentative collective bargaining agreement with you and begin the ratification (voting) process. Our journey to this CBA has been long and difficult — the closure of Rainier, fighting the pay freeze, and the pandemic were just a few of the obstacles we faced. Despite high teacher turnover, we were able to keep our union going because new teachers quickly saw both the things that needed improvement and the potential of our schools. We fought for our union and our contract for over three years motivated by our love for our students and our school communities. While we didn’t win everything we wanted or deserved, we are extremely proud of this CBA. Both our bargaining team and site reps enthusiastically recommend voting YES to ratify our agreement.

We’ve settled this contract because of the hard work teachers past and present did to talk with their coworkers and school communities. Every petition you signed, every meeting you attended, and every action we held made a difference. We know that when we are unified and fearless in our advocacy, we can achieve great things.

This contract is also a recognition of teacher voice by Summit’s Home Office. We hope it allows us to turn a new page in our relationship and that we can work productively and collaboratively to continue to improve our schools.

Tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement

There is a lot to absorb about our new contract, so we’ve created two resources.

First, a summary of all of the articles in our agreement. This is the TLDR version of our contract.

Second, you can read all of the actual contract language here. Please note that this is not quite final; we are waiting on a few things from Summit (such as the appendices) but wanted to share this with our members ASAP.

A couple of highlights:

  • New standards to support English language learners, including provisions for class size limits of 17 for middle school and 19 for high school English language learners.
  • Job security, including layoff language based on objective factors and a probationary period after which you will be asked back every year unless you are terminated for cause or poor performance. Summit must follow the discipline article to terminate you and you have the right to appeal your termination to a neutral arbitrator.
  • Four weeks fully paid parental leave
  • A 40-hour workweek for teachers that includes duty-free lunches.
  • Automatic “step” increases; your ED can no longer deny you a raise.
  • Provisions that will help to create greater mental health supports on Summit’s campuses.

Ratification Vote

We will begin voting on the contract May 18. We will hold meetings at each school site so that members of the bargaining team can present the CBA and answer questions. After the meeting, you will vote on the contract. Please look out for information from your site rep about when your school meeting will be held.

Please note that you will need to sign up for union membership (dues) in order to vote. Dues of charter and district educators from across CA paid for our nearly 4 year journey to start a union and win a first contract. Now, we get to pay it forward to help the next nonunion charter school that wants to organize! Dues also pay for our CTA staff, legal support, and more.

Union Leadership Elections

A reminder that we will have union leadership elections before the end of the school year. The elections committee will send out more details soon.

Our terms are one year so there will be an election for all positions — president, vice president, treasurer, and site reps. This is an exciting time for our union as we work on growing our strength and implementing our contract! We encourage you to be a part of it and run for an office!

An Open Letter to Summit’s Funders

Today, we sent the following letter to Summit’s funders in order to notify them of what Summit teachers are advocating for. Summit receives millions of dollars a year from some of the biggest names in philanthropy — including the Gates Foundation, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Charles Koch Foundation — but almost none of that money directly benefits our students. These funders should know what’s really happening in our schools, from the people who are in the classroom every day.

Dear Funder,

As the union that represents teachers at Summit schools in California, we believe in the mission and model of Summit Public Schools: to ensure the success and preparation of our students in whichever pathway they choose. It was why we chose to create a union, Unite Summit, in January of 2019. Unfortunately, it has been our experience that, too often, Summit does not live up to its mission and model due to high teacher turnover, lack of supports for students, and a disregard for teacher voice.

For the past two years, we have been negotiating our first union contract with Summit in an effort to better support our students, our teachers, and our schools. Unfortunately, Summit has yet to agree to key basic working conditions that ensure teacher voice is protected. After protracted negotiations, we have reached fact finding, the final step in the bargaining process before a potential strike. 

Striking is a measure of last resort.  But after over two years of contract negotiations and an ongoing teacher retention crisis, we know it is time for Summit to settle a fair contract now. 95% of teachers voted “yes” to authorize a strike if necessary to win a fair contract now, with 89% of teachers participating in the vote. We know this was not a vote that teachers took lightly.

As our teacher retention report shows, there is a serious and urgent problem with teacher retention at our schools. Only 30% of the teachers employed when we filed to unionize in January of 2019 are still employed at Summit. This year alone, nearly 10% of our teaching staff have quit midyear due to constant organizational change, overwhelming responsibilities, and lack of consistent support to do this job successfully. 

This crisis must be addressed. And Summit management has the opportunity to do so by settling a fair contract now. We have been clear about what settling our contract will take; what we are asking for is fair and reasonable. 

We would love to have an opportunity to speak with you more about these very serious issues. We believe current and former funders should be fully informed about what is happening at our schools — and how, working together, we can make them better.  Please let us know when you are available. We can meet in person or via zoom. 


Janine Peñafort, Eric Jones, and Justin Kim

Unite Summit Leadership

Support Unite Summit in Winning a Fair Contract

Here are a few ways you can support Unite Summit as we fight for a fair first contract.

  • Sign our petition to the Summit Public Schools Board asking for a fair contract now.
  • Unions and other supportive organizations can pass our Unite Summit Strike Fund Resolution.
    • Please send completed resolutions to UniteSummitTeachers@gmail.com
  • If you are a Summit alumni, sign our alumni letter.
  • Make an individual pledge to our strike fund.
    • We are so thankful for the unions, individuals, and organizations who have shown incredible solidarity by pledging $20,000 already. While we hope to settle our contract in fact finding, we are also preparing to support our teachers who need it in the event of a strike.
  • Follow us on Instagram — @Unite_Summit
    • If you have a video or picture of support you’d like to share, please email it to UniteSummitTeachers@gmail.com.

Solidarity With Unite Summit!

President E. Toby Boyd of the California Teachers Association expresses support and solidarity for Unite Summit. We are proud members of the 310,000-educators-strong CTA!
Last year, legendary labor leader Dolores Huerta spoke at a rally in support of Unite Summit and other charter educators fighting for first contracts. “¡Si se puede! ¡Que viva los maestros! We’re going to win this fight!”
Teachers and instructional coaches at Downtown College Prep in San Jose, represented by South Bay Educators United, support Unite Summit. As fellow charter educators, they know how important it is to have a strong union contract.
High Tech Education Collective in San Diego supports Unite Summit!

The best way for Summit to show teacher appreciation? Settle a fair contract now!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

These past few years have been some of the most challenging with teaching virtual school, returning to in-person learning, and responding to the needs of our students in the best way that we can given the conditions – all while trying to tend to our own needs and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, Summit management’s displays of teacher appreciation this week ring hollow. If Summit management truly appreciated teachers, they would settle a fair contract that makes our jobs sustainable, respects teacher voices, and provides students with the supports they need.

There are 3 WAYS you can show your appreciation for Summit teachers this week:

  • Sign our petition to the Summit Public Schools Board asking for a fair contract now.
  • If you are a Summit alumni, sign our alumni letter.
  • Make an individual pledge to our strike fund. We are so thankful for the unions, individuals, and organizations who have shown incredible solidarity by pledging $20,000 already. While we hope to settle our contract in fact-finding, we are also preparing to support our teachers who need it in the event of a strike.

Art Build

We had a wonderful art build in Oakland this past weekend! Thank you to all of the teachers, alumni, students, families, and supporters who gathered together in community and love for our schools.

Teachers, please connect with your site reps to get art. We will be using the signs we created over the past two weekends on May 10th, the day of our fact finding hearing and, if necessary, during a strike.

School Walk-Ins on Tuesday, May 10th

Join us at your local Summit school at 7:45am this upcoming Tuesday, May 10th! Teachers will be hosting walk-ins across Summit school sites throughout the Bay Area in support of our Unite Summit bargaining team who will be presenting the fact-finding hearing – the last step before Summit teachers are legally allowed to strike. Reach out to your school’s site rep for more details about your site-specific walk-in!

Follow us on Instagram @Unite_Summit

Art Builds and Negotiations Update

Art Builds!
A reminder that our first strike-ready art build will be this Saturday, April 23 from 10am-2pm at the San Jose Teachers Association offices (5444 Thornwood Drive San Jose, CA 95123).

We have also confirmed the location of our Oakland art build on Saturday, April 30 from 10am-2pm at the Oakland Education Association offices (272 E. 12th St., Oakland, CA 94606).


We are so excited to launch this in-person community event and we would love for as many folks from our school communities (and beyond!) to attend as possible, from those who are artistically inclined to those who want to grow in their creativity and want to do so in community. Kids are welcome! So please join us! And, to keep our community safe, please wear a mask.

Fact Finding Update
The Public Employment Relations Board has appointed a “neutral” (see here for a reminder of the steps of the process). This begins the 30 day period for the release of the fact-finding report, after which we can legally strike. We are hoping to settle our contract during the fact finding process — our remaining demands are extremely reasonable — but are also continuing to prepare for a potential strike. We will keep you updated as the process continues.