Gahanna-Jefferson board files complaint against GJEA, prepares for strike

Scott Hummel
ThisWeek group

The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education has filed a complaint against the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association and a motion for a temporary restraining order.

According to an Oct. 9 news release sent by district spokesperson Judy Hengstebeck, the district is asking a Franklin County court to issue an order prohibiting a strike.

The district also filed an "unfair labor practice" motion because "GJEA's movement toward a strike violates the law," Superintendent Steve Barrett said in the news release.

Court gavel

The motion was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, according to filings on the Franklin County Clerk of Courts' website. Judge Chris M. Brown has been assigned to the case.

Gahanna teachers have given notice that they would strike beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, if contract negotiations were unsuccessful.

Negotiations have been at an impasse because the teachers want a say in how the district’s hybrid-learning model is implemented when it is set to begin Oct. 13.  

“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," Barrett said in the release. "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."

Barrett said the two sides haven't been able to reach an agreement and laid out the district's next steps in addition to the motion filed with the court.

“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," he said.

Barrett said the 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.

“This is difficult for our teachers, our students and our community, as it is for the board and district leaders," he said. "We hope for complete resolution of this situation as swiftly as possible.”

Betsy Baker, spokesperson for the GJEA, expressed disappointment in the district's actions.

"We’re sad to see that the district is making preparations to bring in outside replacements in the event of a strike," she said. "We’re worried about whether our students will be safe. Will those replacements be properly credentialed? Will they have valid background checks?"

Baker said the union wants an agreement.

"We want to teach," she said. "We just need our kids to be safe and to have an equitable opportunity to learn so that they can be successful."

Baker said another mediation session is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 11.

Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/Gahanna for updates.

shummel@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews

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