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Tumwater teachers want to hear from public at community meeting

Bush Middle School health teachger Whitney Hehemann (fist up) and fellow Tumwater Education Association members rally outside the Thurston County Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept.12, 2018, following a ruling by Superior Court judge Chris Lanese to end the week-long teachers strike.
Bush Middle School health teachger Whitney Hehemann (fist up) and fellow Tumwater Education Association members rally outside the Thurston County Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept.12, 2018, following a ruling by Superior Court judge Chris Lanese to end the week-long teachers strike. toverman@theolympian.com

The Tumwater Education Association, the union that represents Tumwater School District teachers, will hold a community meeting tonight (Thursday) to answer questions about the bargaining process and strike.

The meeting is set for 7-8 p.m. at the Washington Education Association Chinook office, 5220 Capitol Blvd. SE.

The TEA decided to host the meeting after Thursday’s Tumwater school board meeting was canceled. Superintendent John Bash and the school board have been invited to attend, according to a news release.

Parents who attend the meeting likely will question whether school is actually going to start for students on Friday after the union and district remained divided on Wednesday.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese on Wednesday ruled in favor of the school district to end the strike, agreeing that there was a risk of causing “substantial harm” to students if the strike continued. However, members of the union voted later in the day to defy the judge’s order and continue their strike.

That didn’t stop the district, however, which announced that work would begin for teachers today (Thursday) and that school for students would begin Friday.

Judge Lanese did not order teachers to return to work on a specific date, and he didn’t spell out any potential penalties for teachers. He said that would be up to the district to pursue in court.

The district warned Wednesday that it might take that action.

“If the teachers do not report to work, the district will be forced to take the necessary steps the judge outlined in court to seek relief,” the district said in a news release.

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