Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has told both sides in the Tacoma teachers strike she wants an agreement by 3 p.m. Wednesday or she wants to see them in her office.
The governor has no direct control of schools in Washington, which has a separate superintendent of public instruction, but Gregoire wants kids back in the classrooms, her spokesman Cory Curtis said.
“There is no question that the Tacoma teacher strike has continued for far too long — disrupting the lives of families and the 28,000 students who need to be in school,” Gregoire said in a written statement.
Wednesday is the seventh day classes have been canceled in the state’s third-largest school district. Seattle’s and Spokane’s school systems are larger.
Talks broke down Tuesday night. Issues include pay and class size, but the major sticking point is how the district handles teacher transfers. The district wants to consider some factors in addition to seniority.
Gregoire said she wanted district and union negotiators to stay in her office “until their differences are reconciled and the school doors reopen.”
The Tacoma Education Association, the union for 1,900 teachers, is defying a court order for them to return to work. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff has said he’s considering giving the district the option of replacing teachers who are on the picket line, and the next court hearing is set for Tuesday.
State and local public employees, including teachers, have no legally protected right to strike, according to a 2006 state attorney general’s opinion. But that opinion also noted state law lacks specific penalties for striking public employees.
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