Fresno Unified passed an emergency resolution Wednesday to prepare for a potential teachers strike, a move the union says criminalizes its members.
The resolution, passed unanimously by the board of trustees and effective immediately, lays out a plan if a strike should happen. It empowers the superintendent to retain additional security; reschedule class and extracurricular activities; and otherwise take action to “ensure and protect the welfare, safety and educational well-being” of students.
“The superintendent is directed to take and have other administrators take action against individuals who are involved in acts of malicious mischief, vandalism, disturbing the peace, assault, harassment, unlawfully disrupting the educational program, trespass, prevent the normal ingress and egress to school property and other violations of the law,” the resolution states.
A strike would result in “great or irreparable damage” to students, it adds, while forbidding teachers from discussing negotiations at school.
“It is the position of the district that students shall not be directly involved in the negotiations process during instructional time in the classroom,” the resolution states. “No employee or visitor at any school site shall discuss the progress of negotiations nor the merits or lack thereof any issue in negotiations with students during their instructional periods.”
Earlier this month, the Fresno Teachers Association voted to authorize its executive board to move forward with a strike after more than a year of unsuccessful bargaining with the district on issues such as teacher pay, class size and student discipline.
The union said in a statement that the resolution passed Wednesday “characterizes picketers as criminals,” and suspends teachers’ right to free speech.
The district’s plan to tap volunteers to help keep schools running could put students in danger if those people are not thoroughly vetted, the FTA said.
“Instead of focusing on preparing for a strike, Fresno Unified should do everything they can to avoid a strike,” FTA said in a news release. “We urge the district to focus on lowering class sizes, improving safety and discipline, improving special education, allowing for teacher autonomy in curriculum, and recruiting & retaining quality educators.”
The district and FTA will enter into the “fact finding” process next month, at which a neutral third party will make a recommendation regarding the contract. Teachers cannot legally strike until that process is over.
Emergency substitute teachers are being offered up to $500 a day if they work during the strike.