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State board rules Youngstown teachers strike can continue

Six people - some standing, some sitting in folding chairs on a sidewalk - hold signs reading "Teachers on strike."
Conor Morris
Ideastream Public Media
Youngstown teachers gathered Wednesday through Friday this week to protest after negotiations between the union and the district broke down.

The State Employee Relations Board on Friday afternoon ruled that a teachers strike in Youngstown can continue, over objections from the school district that the strike was illegal.

Meanwhile, the Youngstown City School District Board of Education is set to hold an emergency meeting Friday at 5 p.m. to discuss the strike.

The union hopes the school district will come to the negotiating table after the board's discussion or sometime over the weekend, said Youngstown Education Association spokesperson Jim Courim. Teachers want to be back in the classroom as soon as possible, he said. Monday is the district's second official day of school.

The school district's superintendent, Jeremy Batchelor, had argued the strike was illegal because the union had not agreed to try to resolve the dispute through a third-party fact finder. Meanwhile, the union's attorney in Columbus argued that, under a previously settled-upon agreement with the school district around dispute procedures, the union could go on strike without calling that fact-finder, WKBN reported.

The district and union have been at odds over language in the contract and wages, although the union has argued it's the contract language that is the true sticking point. They say they want more of a say in how students are educated in the classroom, while the administration argues it needs more precise control over teachers' day-to-day operations to bring the school district out of academic distress.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.