PARMA, Ohio — After a nine-day strike, teachers and intervention specialists at Summit Academy in Parma voted to make their first union contract official on Friday.
The strike came after teachers claimed negotiations with the school were not being handled in “good faith”
The teachers were seeking improved health and safety conditions, manageable class sizes and caseloads, planning periods, and standards that would allow the school to retain quality teachers.
The contract signed by the teachers ensures they have a voice at work, establishes staffing guidelines and a Labor-Management Committee and gives them a binding grievance and arbitration process.
“Our collective action on the picket line paid off. We were able to win contract language on staffing expectations and ongoing updates on filling our open staff positions,” said Kelly Granda, an art teacher at the school. “This contract is a step in the right direction in holding Summit Academy Management accountable. And we know we’ll be able to take even bigger steps forward when our colleagues at Summit Academy in Painesville join us at the bargaining table for our next contract.”
Summit Academy in Parma was the first charter school strike in Ohio, but the fourth nationwide, following on in Los Angeles and two others in Chicago.
“The faculty at Summit Academy Parma built their union and went on strike because they knew that their students weren’t getting what they needed for a quality education, and they had no voice or power to advocate for their students,” Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers said.
The school serves about 200 students, mainly those with behavioral and learning disabilities.
“I’m proud of the teachers and intervention specialists at Summit Academy for taking a stand to win the resources that their students need, and I’m glad they were able to reach an agreement with management to re-open the school,” State Representative Jeff Crossman said. “While the strike is over, I know these teachers will continue advocating for their students and I look forward to amplifying their stories as we work in the statehouse for better-funded schools.”
Students and teachers will return to their classrooms on Monday, March 4.