Yesterday Superior Court Judge Jodi Alper ordered the South Orange-Maplewood teachers union to follow the district’s (now delayed) schedule to begin in-school instruction for sixth and ninth graders, as soon as tomorrow. The district said (see full statement below), “[t]his is an important and critical step in the right direction as we resume in-person instruction. The legal significance of the Court’s Order is to ensure that our community is not faced with another work district-wide interference.”
The district’s original schedule had kindergarten to second grade students, as well as sixth and ninth graders, resuming in-school instruction this past Monday, March 15, in classrooms that had passed the union’s safety criteria. However, only K-2 teachers showed up. On Friday, March 12, parents held an outdoor school “sit-in” in front of one of the district elementary schools as they continue to protest the union’s stance.
The union also issued a statement. President Rocio Lopez, president of the South Orange-Maplewood Education Association, said Judge Alper’s ruling was “a win for the association, the community, and the district. This has never been about a challenge to the district; this was about having our concerns and ideas heard, respected, and able to put into action so that schools could open safely.”
Another hearing is schedule for April 19. For background on this developing story, see here, here, here, here, and here.
Dear SOMSD Community,
Today, the Court heard the Board’s application for temporary restraints to require all SOMEA staff to report to District facilities for in-person instruction consistent with our Phase 3 reopening plan. While the Court denied the overall request finding that the extraordinary remedy of temporary restraints should not be ordered, the Hon. Jodi Alper entered an Order compelling SOMEA 6th and 9th-grade teachers to report for in-person instruction as early as Thursday, March 18, 2021, to rooms that assigned by the District that were previously identified as having passed SOMEA’s unique standards. It is notable that the District had made this offer to SOMEA several weeks ago, but it had been refused. We are thankful that the Court was willing to Order the return for our 6th and 9th-grade students and families.
The District will prepare for the resumption of in-person learning for our 6th and 9th graders which will begin on Monday, March 22. There will be follow-up correspondence as we make classroom assignments, transportation arrangements, and prepare for in-person learning. Additional communication will be sent to families and students that will be returning.
This is an important and critical step in the right direction as we resume in-person instruction. The legal significance of the Court’s Order is to ensure that our community is not faced with another work district-wide interference with the return of Phase 3 in-person learning. Another court date is scheduled for April 19. We will continue to work toward greater availability of in-person instruction over the coming weeks as we target April 19 for our next phase.
South Orange & Maplewood School District