Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question Mark
Join PEN of Florida

Who qualifies for PEN membership?

All certified educators and employees including: administrators, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, professors, teacher aides, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians, school lunch staff, clerical staff, and substitute teachers.

Why do I need to join an education association? 

  • Personal, prompt and guaranteed legal assistance
  • $2 million liability insurance—every educator needs it, and it is included in the dues
  • Career protection against violations of employment right or discipline to your certification
  • Criminal charges protection and defense
  • Legislative representation
  • Networking with other educators
  • Staying informed of key education issues
  • Scholarships and Mini-Grants

How can PEN's dues be so low? Don't you get what you paid for?

  • PEN of Florida does not endorse or financially contribute to politicians or political campaigns.
  • No part of PEN of Florida’s dues are forwarded to any national or out-of-state organization.
  • PEN of Florida does not make contributions to organizations for the promotion of social issues.
  • PEN of Florida does not pay staff to make political calls or pay printing or postage for political campaign literature for politicians.
  • PEN of Florida maintains staff salaries that are in line with educator salaries.
  • PEN of Florida has many educators who volunteer their time to serve the organization.
  • PEN of Florida Board of Directors is not paid to serve but instead volunteer their time and assist PEN of Florida with providing many services pro bono.
  • PEN of Florida is financially responsible, maintaining a low administrative overhead.

Do you provide legal help to enforce the contract as it applies to Florida teachers?


Yes. We defend our members against any violation of the local collective bargaining contract and all state education laws. Florida is a right to work state and therefore the contract covers all employees regardless of union membership. PEN provides the following legal protections to members at no additional cost: contract enforcement, certification problems or questions, reduction in force or layoffs, suspension (with/without pay), letters of reprimand, evaluations, student discipline issues, parent or student complaints, professional practices cases, transfers, harassment, surplus, and health and safety issues.

How is that done? Does PEN have lawyers on staff?


Yes, and your defense will be handled by the type of attorney that fits the nature of the issue (i.e. education, criminal charges, labor, etc.) Our legal team is headed by attorney Bob Boyd, one of PEN’s Founding Directors and currently serves as the Treasurer of our Board. PEN is represented by the law firm of Sachs Sax Caplan, a statewide firm with offices in several Florida cities, and all of their attorneys are available to handle PEN members’ legal issues.


Will these legal protections cost me anything out of my own pocket?


No. PEN members are provided, at no additional cost, with up to $10,000 in legal defense fees. In 15 years of existence we have defended many members and it has never gone over the $10,000 limit and rarely comes close.

SolutionHow can PEN help members if there is not a PEN school representative at every school? 

  • When there is a legal issue, it is best to directly consult a licensed education attorney to get credible legal advice from the beginning.
  • Some organizations require that you discuss your situation with a colleague known as a building rep or steward. In such a situation, your are not assured confidentially when speaking with this rep because attorney-client privilege will not apply to conversation with that individual.
  • When a meeting is scheduled that could lead to disciplinary action being taken against you, an attorney is available to be present at the meeting.
  • Don’t confuse the difference between moral support and quality legal representation

Can I still file a grievance if I am a PEN member?

Yes. PEN attorneys will assist and represent you in this action.

Is PEN involved with collective bargaining?

No, PEN is not a labor union so we do not participate in collective bargaining. 

How can PEN of Florida really represent me if they are not the collective bargaining agent?

  • Florida is a “right to work” state, meaning that all educators in the bargaining unit work under the provisions in the collective bargaining contract regardless of union membership.
  • All educators have the equal right to legal representation regardless of union membership.
  • Most of the employment rights and privileges are granted to educators by the Florida State Statutes. PEN of Florida seeks to promote positive changes in the Legislature that benefits educators and Florida education.
  • It is worth noting that Florida’s teacher salaries are lower than many other states that do not have collective bargaining. For example, in our neighboring state of Georgia the teachers do not collectively bargain their contract and enjoy a much higher average salary than Florida teachers. 

How does PEN advocate for its members and advocate for education?

  • PEN or Florida members are served by active, registered lobbyists.
  • PEN of Florida gives regular updates from the Capitol during the Legislative session.
  • PEN of Florida members are provided with the tools to become involved legislatively. PEN of Florida’s “Hooked On Politics” is available for every member. Please call the PEN office to request your copy.
  • PEN of Florida officers and lobbyists follow the course legislation from the committee level to the Governor’s level.

I have been told that PEN is a Christian/Republican group.  Is this true?

  • PEN of Florida is a non-partisan association.
  • PEN of Florida members and Board of Directors are made up of people from all political parties and views.
  • PEN of Florida is not affiliated with any political or religious organization.
  • PEN of Florida is an organization that anyone can belong to without being offended by an agenda of politics or social issues.

Why do I need liability insurance?


In today’s litigious society, liability insurance is a necessity to protect teachers and their property from lawsuits filed against them. The liability insurance covers you if a student or parent files a suit against you.

How much will the liability insurance cover if I am sued?


Up to $2 Million.