To the left of Superintendent Monifa McKnight at a press event in May, school union presidents Christine Handy from the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals, Pia Morrison from the Service Employees International Union Local 500, and Jennifer Martin from the Montgomery County Education Association await their turns to make remarks. Credit: Em Espey

The Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP) recently announced that it has joined the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), meaning all three MCPS employee unions now enjoy support and resources stemming from national ties.

Association president Christine Handy said the union has been exploring this option since the beginning of the school year out of a desire for more support and resources for its members.

“Our union partners are affiliated nationally, and we’ve seen [the high level] of support you get from being affiliated with a national organization,” she said. “Any time you have challenges, you have someone to call upon to support you, to help you, to give you suggestions, to tell you how to navigate various situations. When we were independent, we didn’t have that opportunity.”

The union is now officially Local Chapter 146 of the federation, but Handy said it will not change its name.

Handy also said the AFSA’s support has helped union members “navigate the political arena” in recent months during county budget discussions. With the AFSA’s help, she said the union recently formed a new political action committee to streamline these efforts.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve had to participate in rallies, provide testimony before County Council [and] send emails,” she said, referencing MCPS unions’ recent efforts to advocate for more funding ahead of council’s final vote on next year’s budget.


“We were forced to fight and advocate for a budget we thought was needed for our school district and for our members,” Handy added.

Asked for the school district’s reaction to the union’s new partnership, spokesperson Jessica Baxter responded in an email:

“MCPS values its partnership with all three employee associations to best serve the needs of our employees. MCPS is a people business, and we have a shared commitment in providing the best work environment possible to deliver a world class education to all of our students.”


Montgomery County Education Association’s president Jennifer Martin told MoCo360 that the teachers union wanted to express its congratulations to the association on its new national affiliation.

“We trust this will help build their capacity to organize for improvements in working and learning conditions in our school system,” she wrote. “We stand with our union partners whenever possible to advocate for public education employees and the students we serve.”

Handy said being affiliated with a national union “won’t really change” how the association operates, but she said the additional support will help members navigate things like collective bargaining and salary negotiations.


“We’re excited about the partnership,” she said. “We’ve done well as an independent organization, and I think we’ll be even stronger now that we’ve joined the AFSA.”