GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — The superintendent of the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools issued a statement Friday saying the district is preparing for a possible teachers’ strike, including going to court.
In the statement, Superintendent Steve Barrett said the school board “filed a Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order asking the court to issue an order prohibiting a strike.” The board also filed an unfair labor practice, stating the union’s movement toward a strike violates the law.
“The parties remain actively engaged in negotiations, and impasse has not been reached,” Barrett wrote in the statement.
In addition, Barrett wrote the board authorized the district to secure teachers and education resources from outside the district should a strike be called.
The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association school teachers overwhelmingly voted Thursday to authorize their bargaining team to send the district a 10-day “notice of intent to strike and picket.”
Barrett’s full statement reads:
“The Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools negotiation team met this week with union leaders, and we worked hard to seek common ground and find a compromise. We listened, and we considered all of the concerns raised during negotiations.
“It is important to know that all classrooms are equipped with PPE, and we continue to enhance our health and safety protocols, which have been approved by Franklin County Public Health.
“While we have been unable to reach an agreement, there has been progress made in mediation. We remain committed to the negotiation process, and we will continue our conversations.
“Although we are hopeful this will be resolved, the district also has a responsibility to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a strike. This afternoon, the Board filed a Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order asking the court to issue an order prohibiting a strike. In addition, the Board filed an unfair labor practice, because GJEA’s movement toward a strike violates the law. The parties remain actively engaged in negotiations, and impasse has not been reached.
“Today, our Board also voted to authorize district leaders to do what is necessary to prepare for a potential strike, including securing teachers and educational resources outside the district to assure equity and access to learning for all GJPS students.
“This is difficult for our teachers, our students and our community, as it is for the Board and district leaders. We hope for complete resolution of this situation as swiftly as possible.”Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Steve Barrett
“Our representation just don’t feel like the back to school plan that we currently have is safe for teachers and students, that it’s equitable for students that it’s setting up our students for success,” said Betsy Baker, spokesperson for the teachers’ union.
Baker said the superintendent’s statement and the actions detailed in it were surprising.
“We’re still open to any plan that’s presented to us that provides that safe and equitable environment that sets our students up for success,” she said.
Negotiations are set to resume Monday, with both sides saying progress has been made, but neither would go into details.