AKRON, Ohio — The Akron Public Schools Board of Education held a closed meeting Thursday night to discuss the Akron Education Association’s strike notice, released Thursday morning.
Akron teachers will strike January 9 with a picket starting that morning, after efforts to resolve the extraordinary matter through federal mediation failed.
Pat Shipe, president of the Akron Education Association, stated, “The Akron community’s outpouring of concern about school safety and security is being ignored by Akron Public Schools. Weeks of unparalleled fighting now occur every day inside Akron school buildings, but inspectors and boards continue to want to simplify the definition of assault and force students, teachers, parents and families to endure more violence, chaos and disruption to education. the majority of Akron’s students.”
In a press release, the AEA said educators were resigning at a record-breaking rate due to, “This administration’s failure to protect its students and staff from internal student aggression.” The press release said the violence had left more than 20% of teaching positions unfilled and claimed the Board said they could not use federal stimulus dollars to retain educators, but “they acknowledged during a fact-finding that they used $44 million of the funds.” on administrative salaries and benefits.”
Nicole Russell, a parent of three at Akron Public Schools, said the strike was long overdue.
“I support the teachers. They are there to educate our children and if they cannot educate our children and feel safe, they must strike now,” Russell said.
He supports the strike, even if it means more disruption to his son’s education.
“This will only make us come back, but at the same time. Teachers need this. They need to know they are supported,” he said.
Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, echoed Russell’s sentiments.
“It’s really frustrating as it’s just one after another for these poor kids. You know, they missed a year because of COVID. They came back and experienced all kinds of harassment and now we are going to attack and kick them out of school again,” he said.
But he hopes teachers will strike and all their demands will be met.
“Not only paying teachers what they deserve, but making sure that they are safe and the children are safe because they are absolutely not,” he said. “I want to see teachers get everything on their wish list. I will not be sending my children to school, nor will they be doing any school related activities or any homework.”
Both parents added they would gladly support a strike if it meant real change in schools and action on the part of the administration to address the problem.
“If they don’t strike out, if they don’t speak up for themselves, something is going to happen that is far worse than what has already happened,” Russell said.
Mark Williamson, communications director for Akron Public Schools released this statement to News 5:
Akron Public Schools respects and values its teachers and the work they do for children every day. We know that if we continue to negotiate, we can reach an agreement that is in the best interests of educators, students, parents, and the Akron community. APS is ready to stay at the table every day to resolve this situation and keep children learning. We hope that the Akron Education Association shares this commitment with us.
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