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District: No deal in La Habra teachers strike

December 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The teachers union told La Habra teachers that a tentative deal had been reached overnight and to return to work Tuesday morning, but the district states no such deal was made. Later Tuesday night, a proposal was made to the teachers at 8 p.m. The teachers then submitted a proposal at 9 p.m. The proposals were too far apart to come to an agreement. The main argument between striking teachers and the district focuses on a single document.

Teacher Susan Gersh cried tears of sadness - not joy - on a day she thought she was going back in the classroom.

"I'm devastated. I was looking forward to today. I had three days to finish lessons and get my kids prepped for writing responses to literature and now I can't do that," Gersh said.

Kids protested during their breaks as their teachers remained on the sidewalks.

Teachers who attempted to return to campus were turned away. Gersh said she was told that teachers who tried to enter school would be arrested. She was also told that teachers needed to go to the district office and sign a piece of paperwork.

That paper Gersh referred to states teachers have to agree to forfeit their compensation for the strike days as well as potential future strike days.

"It's dealing directly with the employees and bypassing the unions and it's unconstitutional," said CTA representative Steve Balentine.

"Whenever you have labor unrest, one of the strategies from the union's perspective would be to bring everybody back today and have everybody walk out tomorrow when we no longer have substitutes and organizations in place," said La Habra City School District superintendent Susan Belenardo.

Belenardo said she was surprised when teachers tried to return Tuesday when a deal was not imminent.

"This is a process. I doubt you are going to see an agreement. It's going to take much longer than an hour," Belenardo said.

Meanwhile, some parents are keeping their kids out of classes.

"He's been out of school for four days. If this takes a month, two months, three months, he's out here," said Rosalba Leon, a parent of a first grade student at El Cerrito School.

Most students, though, are still in school.

"I just hope this all ends soon. It's not good for the kids. It's not good for the community," said another parent Carla Tezak, who has two kids at El Cerrito School.

Negotiations got underway again at 3:30 p.m.

According to the La Habra School District, a proposal was made to the teachers at 8 p.m. The teachers then submitted a proposal at 9 p.m. The proposals were too far apart to come to an agreement.

As of Tuesday night, no new date had been set to continue negotiations. Earlier, teachers did call off their strike action, and were still planning to return to classrooms on Thursday, the last day of school before winter break.


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