NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Students that chose to participate in a sit-in that was planned Thursday morning at North Ridgeville High School were warned they could face disciplinary measures and could lose their academic standing. The sit-in is meant to show support for their teachers who are involved in a contract dispute with the school.
Parents received a voice mail from Tom Szendrey, the principal of the high school:
"We have become aware that many students are organizing a sit-in demonstration in support of the teachers for tomorrow. While we honor the rights to rights of our students support our teachers as we do, it is important to note that we are in the home stretch of this school year and that important instruction and assessment is taking place which is critical to academics and grading. We are asking the parents to advise your children that unexcused absence from school will not be tolerated and that consequences could include loss of grades and academic standing. Students who refuse to attend their assigned classes will also face disciplinary consequences. Students are asked to show their support at other times other than the regular school day. Finally, please know that it is our intention to remove students from the current contract dispute. If you are aware of any staff member who is engaged in involving students in discussions of this dispute, please contact me. We will do our best to provide your children with a safe and appropriate learning environment."
The North Ridgeville Education Association just voted to authorize a ten-day strike notice.
North Ridgeville Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Powell says the main sticking point in the negotiations between the school and teachers is money, but he said he is hoping something can be worked out soon.
"No one wants a strike. That's our number one priority. We want to get this resolved but if work stoppage happens, we've already been preparing for that, and we will have a licensed quality professional in every classroom, and school won't stop," said Powell.
The teacher's union released a statement that said:
"On Monday, May 8, 2017, the North Ridgeville Education Association overwhelmingly voted to authorize the Negotiations team to issue a 10 day notice to strike, only if necessary. The vote was taken at this point in time so that the entire membership was available to vote. Attempting this vote in the summer would not give an accurate representation of what membership would authorize the Bargaining team to do if bargaining does not settle the dispute. This vote was not authorization for an actual strike. The North Ridgeville Education Association remains ready, willing and able to bargain. The main focus for NREA is to settle the contract dispute at the bargaining table with a contract that is fair for the staff and community."
Powell says the school is waiting to hear from a federal mediator on the next date that both sides will come back to the bargaining table.