By Jim Melwert
LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) – Teachers in the Neshaminy School District are on strike. If that sounds familiar, you’re right. This is the second time this school year that Neshaminy teachers have hit the picket lines.
The first time was back in January for eight days. That did nothing to break the stalemate that the teachers union and the district have been locked in for the past four years.
State law says the 180-day school year can’t go past June 30th. That means teachers can strike for no more than 10 days this time.
Union leaders here say their goal now is just to get back to the table.
“Please believe me when I say that we would not be out here unless we thought the board left us no other choice,” says Neshaminy Federation of Teachers Vice President Jeff Dunkley. “We absolutely believe they have no interest in settling this.”
But, the timing of the strike raises all kinds of questions for graduating seniors. Those seniors were to start final exams today. Seniors are exempt from any finals missed due to the strike, but they have the option of taking that exam if they think it could improve their grade. Underclassmen will not be exempt from any finals.
The school district says graduation ceremonies will go on as scheduled on June 13th, but those graduating will not receive their diplomas until final grades are calculated.
This is such a hot-topic around town here with battle lines drawn, those who support the teachers and those who back the school board.
There have been very public and very angry protests here against the teacher’s union. Parent Stephen Pirritano says, “It’s extremely frustrating, because we have nothing but respect for good teachers, but we can’t respect this union because it’s taken an assault on our community, it’s just wrong.”
If the strike does indeed drag on, the district is asking for what it calls a “cease fire” during graduation ceremonies, asking the teachers union not to picket, and the counter-protesters not to protest.