AKRON, OHIO - Akron teachers rallied Monday night to have their voices heard. Many complain the district is not doing nearly enough to keep them safe in their own classrooms.
Twenty-two teachers have had grievances filed by the Akron Education Association, arguing the school district isn’t living up to their end of a union agreement.
“The 22 grievances that were posted in the media for staff assaults, verbal and physical, there’s more than that. Those are just the ones that have gone to the grievance stage,” said Belinda West, a 17-year Akron teacher.
“We’re going to everybody and show our solidarity until the board is willing to discuss the issue and come up with a realistic and feasible solution to this problem,” said Pat Shipe through a megaphone to the large gathering outside the Akron School Board building.
Akron teachers held a self proclaimed “safe schools rally” before the Akron School Board meeting Monday, to pressure board members and administrators into taking action. The Akron Education Association and many teachers claim the district is not living up to a union agreement that says students who physically or verbally assault teachers will go before an expulsion committee.
Shipe demanded the school board take action and recommit to that agreement.
“Unfortunately, in the last several years, we believe the current administration is not implementing these procedures, and as a result, have left our students and educators to unsafe and untenable teaching and learning environments,” she said in a speech addressing the board.
The association claims instances of violence and verbal assault towards teachers are going undressed. Teachers have been body slammed and head butted by students who are not expelled or reassigned.
“I want to be very clear, we’re specifically talking about less than 2% of our student population that are affecting serious behaviors and assaults both verbal and physical on our staff members,” she said.
If the school board does not agree to follow the specific language in the union contract, Shipe said the education association will take the grievances to arbitration.