Last Friday the Trenton Board of Education filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of New Jersey because teachers are refusing to appear for the scheduled hybrid in-school instruction schedule, which the Board calls an “illegal labor strike.” (For coverage, see here.)
Yesterday Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy issued his ruling: The Trenton Education Association is indeed engaging in an “illegal labor strike” and an “illegal work stopage.”
From the Trentonian:
Issuing a preliminary injunction, Lougy cited communications sent out by TEA, the union representing more than 1,000 educators in the district, about the work-stoppage directive and concluded it ‘irreparably harmed’ the district. ‘The direction by the Association not to report to work does constitute an agreement to follow a common course to frustrate the course of the board. I think that’s clearly what it was,’ Lougy said.
The Judge also noted that Trenton is now the only district in Mercer County that remains fully remote for its 12,500 students and said that administrators had worked “tirelessy” to create safe environments for in-person teaching and learning. The district has spent $10 million on 15,000 plexiglass shields (one for each desk), 1,500 air purifiers, a million masks, and 50,000 face shields to protect staff. No classroom will have more than 12 students. The district has also hired 75 extra custodians to sanitize rooms. Most teachers are vaccinated.
Colin Lynch, the attorney for the Trenton Education Association, said the walk-throughs allowed for union representatives were “an inspection regime that Saddam Hussein would be proud of.” He also said that the only benefit to returning to in-school instruction now instead of waiting til September was only 12 days of school when “we’re talking about potential death, potential hospitalization.” He said TEA may appeal the decision.