Garfield Heights, OH. - Garfield Heights, Ohio, is in a spar with the Garfield Heights School Board over contract negotiations. The Garfield Heights Teachers' Association (GHTA) has been without a contract since June 2022. Since the last school board meeting, nothing has changed. According to GHTA social media page, the teachers stood in solidarity. With over 200 members attending a recent meeting, there was a unanimous vote authorizing the GHTA negotiation team to issue a 10-day strike notice to the Garfield Heights School Board (GHCS) when they deem it necessary.
A recent September 23, 2022, a press release from GHTA read, "following almost five (5) months of negotiating for a new contract with the Garfield Heights City Schools (GHCS), the Garfield Heights Teachers' Association (GHTA) met today for an update from their negotiating team. With over 200 members in attendance, the meeting resulted in a unanimous vote authorizing the GHTA Negotiations Team to issue a 10-day strike notice when they deem it necessary.
GHTA Vice President Tim Duhanich said, "The GHTA negotiations team did not want our members to have to take this vote; however, after five months of negotiations, the GHCS Board and administration have not left us with many options. After progress in bargaining slowed, GHTA requested a Federal Mediator, who, on September 15, sent dates for mediation. GHTA has accepted all the dates, but we are still waiting on management to respond after several requests for a response, and the first date on the list of available dates has already passed. Our membership is ready for management to address the needs of our students and staff. We genuinely hope that the Board's team will commit to working with us to negotiate a contract that ensures safety, stability, and success in Garfield Heights City Schools," stated Duhanich.
GHTA Spokesperson, Susan Hart, stated: "I felt so inspired today watching our teachers working together in solidarity. I have been a teacher in Garfield Heights for 27 years. I remember the Garfield Heights pride my fellow teachers had for many years. That memory keeps me going, and today I saw it come back. I have hated losing so many colleagues over the years. I am hopeful that with a good contract, we will be able to keep the 40 plus new teachers we hired this year."
We have lost over 280 teachers in the last 11 years. We have struggled so long to teach despite the turnover, which is a direct result of the lack of respect from management and the old Board. The teachers experienced that disrespect while earning the lowest wages of all teachers in Cuyahoga County," said Hart.
GHTA President Terese LePelley, added: "The students and families of Garfield Heights deserve collaboration and respect from GHCS. GHTA members deserve a workplace that has reasonable expectations and stakeholders working together. I still hope for Garfield Heights City Schools to be once again a productive place of learning with teachers happy to work here. GHTA can't do it alone."
According to over 200 teachers, the time for that respect is now."
Concerned citizens sound off on social media in support of the GHTA.
- Monique Hamilton wrote, "We have some great teachers in this district. I stand with them 100%."
- Anthony Karam stated, "the disrespect by the board and administrators needs to stop!"
- Carrie Nicoles added, "sending support from Euclid teachers Association!"
On September 19, 2022, Brown on Cleveland asked the GHTA and the Superintendent, Dr. Reginald Reynolds, if a strike was in the forecast. Neither party wanted to issue an answer. According to the September 23, 2022 press release, the GHTA may prepare for a teachers' strike.
"Maybe the Ohio Board of Education should replace the entire school board until the next election cycle. When those people knocked on my door asking for my vote, they promised to change the school district for the betterment of the community. I had no idea that change was a failing school district, wasteful spending, and inflated egos," said a concerned citizen who spoke to us off the record." To get more information about wasteful spending, we probed this matter. The concerned citizens alluded to the $31,500 the Garfield Heights School Board paid Premier Speakers Organization for a motivational speaker. "If the School Board was concerned about our children, why would they pay a person $31,500 to motivate them? This practice of leading our community is hogwash and wasteful spending at its best. The School Board must spend taxpayers' dollars on our children," scoffed the concerned citizen."
Brown on Cleveland will continue to follow this story. Will Garfield Heights Teachers' Association strike?