Hearing Scheduled In Dallas SD Dispute
WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury scheduled a hearing at 2:15 p.m. Thursday on a teachers union motion to force school board members to follow a court order requiring daily bargaining sessions.
The school district filed a notice to appeal Amesbury’s June 21 order and claims board members no longer have to attend the bargaining sessions mandated by Amesbury because the Commonwealth Court now has jurisdiction. Negotiators met seven straight days for a total of 32 hours starting July 10, and offers exchanged during those sessions did not come close to ending the ongoing contract dispute.
Amesbury’s order was also too burdensome for the five school board members required to attend the daily sessions, district Solicitor Vito DeLuca said.
Amesbury ordered weekday bargaining sessions from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. and weekend sessions from noon to 6 p.m. He ordered five school board members and five union members to attend the sessions along with the chief negotiators.
“We are flabbergasted by the school board’s decision to ignore Judge Amesbury’s order,” kindergarten teacher Kim Soccash said in a union news release.
Dallas School District teachers have been working without a union agreement since September 2015. They had a one-day strike June 19, a strike for eight days earlier this school year and a strike for 22 days in 2016.
Amesbury became involved in the dispute after State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera filed a request June 19 for a court order to prevent teachers from going on strike another day.
Rivera didn’t want the district to fail to meet a state requirement to have 180 instruction days for students in a school year by June 30, and the union responded by asking for court supervision of future negotiations.
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