As the West Ada School District announced it would reopen on Wednesday, a group of parents filed a lawsuit, Ratliff v. West Ada Education Association, arguing this week’s “sick out” was an illegal union strike, and that the teachers union cannot use the threat of another work stoppage to force the district to meet its demands.
Like other districts around the country, West Ada School District closed in-person operations in March and started the new school year in a remote learning model. The district has been phasing in some of its 40,000 students for in-person classes and was set to welcome back more students on Monday. Those plans were halted when more than 700 of the district’s 2,145 teachers called in “sick” in protest of reopening.
The impact of closed schools on communities is devastating. Kids have missed out on more than six months of in-person education. Families are struggling financially. One mother in the lawsuit is an essential worker who had to bear the added financial burden of childcare for her elementary school-aged son who is struggling emotionally with the unpredictable school situation. Another father says the school cancellations are causing anxiety and fear of “falling behind” for his kids.
“I have three young kids in West Ada schools and they are reeling from yet another disappointment this week,” said Roy Ratliff, parent of three West Ada elementary school students. “The sudden changes in school are leaving my kids and others with emotional and academic anxiety. It is time for adults to be leaders and put our kids first.”