Newton teachers announced their strike two weeks ago, and schools have been closed since Jan. 19. Since then, there have been daily rallies, nightly press conference and very little progress in getting a contract deal, with both sides blaming each other.
Now, parents, kids and the state are asking the courts to intervene.
On Thursday, Newton parents asked Middlesex Judge Christopher Barry-Smith to intervene to get the teachers back to work and the kids back into the classrooms.
The parents’ request came with 91 pages of testimony from parents and kids about the impact of the strike on families and the community.
“As working parents, we are having to worry about the mental health of our children with the unknown time of being out of school,” one parent wrote to the judge. “The frequent questions of “Mommy, will I go to school tomorrow?” “I want to be with my friends and my teachers learning” is exhausting but moreover worrisome.”
Teachers are demanding social workers in every elementary school to deal with mental health and higher pay for paraprofessionals, in addition to higher cost-of-living adjustments for teachers and more paid parental leave.
“I am a Newton student. I am in [redacted] and I wish to go back to school because I wish to see my friends and teacher,” one child’s note reads. “It gets very boring at home and there is nothing to do. Also I will probably miss a lot of camp.”
Another child’s note read: “I love school and am sad I don’t get it. To me it feels like the teachers care more about money than us kids when you decide to do a job you do it, just like how I go to school.”
The Commonwealth Employee Relations Board filed a motion on Thursday for “appropriate, increased sanctions.”
During the first week of the strike, fines doubled each day. Then the fines went to $50,000 per day. Now, CERB wants the court to force the NTA to pay its accrued fines—at $525,000 so far—and that fines double every day again. and s accrued from now on be paid by the union immediately.
The CERB also recommends the union be forced to pay its fines each day the strike continues, and each day report on how much money in donations the union received that day.
The case is set for an emergency hearing on Friday afternoon.