Heated exchange leads to meeting in Lakewood to discuss switch to an all-virtual start for schools

What began as a heated exchange between the Lakewood teachers union and school board officials ended with the two sides agreeing to meet to discuss the reopening plan.

News 12 Staff

Sep 1, 2020, 2:54 PM

Updated 1,318 days ago

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What began as a heated exchange between the Lakewood teachers union and school board officials ended with the two sides agreeing to meet to discuss the reopening plan.
Lakewood Education Association president Kimberlee Shaw and Lakewood School District attorney Michael Inzelbuch got into an argument Tuesday morning outside of the school on the first in-service day. The two sides have been feuding over the district’s decision to return to school in-person full time instead of a hybrid schedule.
After the argument, the two sides agreed to meet to discuss the issues further.
“We agreed to continue discussion and we are asking that all of our schools go A-B hybrid at this point. They are not at that point. Once they are ready to discuss that and we also said we would give them updated concerns for all of the buildings,” Shaw said.
Shaw says that despite Plexiglas partitions in place in the classrooms and cafeterias, the safety of the staff and students cannot be guaranteed.
The union proposed a schedule that would include four hours of in-school learning followed by at-home, virtual learning in the same day. But Inzelbuch says that this plan will not work. The board did offer to put the middle school on this schedule since overcrowding is a greater concern at the school. But the union said that it must be all schools.
“This is not a negotiation. Under state law - and they acknowledge that - it is management who makes the hours and days. So, we don't need their permission, but we wanted to collaborate,” the attorney says.
Lakewood public schools are unique because the majority of students speak English as a second language and all students are on free or reduced meals. According to the board, more than 90% of parents say that they want to see their students in school for a full day.
Talks between the union and school officials will continue. Students are scheduled to begin classes on Friday. Shaw says that as of now, teachers will strike if a compromise is not reached by then.


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