WILKES-BARRE — A county judge is expected to issue a ruling Thursday on a request for court-ordered negotiations to end the Dallas teachers’ strike.
A hearing was held Wednesday in Luzerne County’s Penn Place building before Judge William H. Amesbury.
The hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes, started with Amesbury signing a more formal version of a temporary order he filed Tuesday.
Amesbury previously issued a temporary order which required members of the Dallas Education Association to end their strike after one day and return to class.
On Wednesday, he signed an injunction ensuring that school will continue.
“Teachers will teach, they will be in the classroom, there will be no labor activity,” Amesbury sternly said. “Do you understand?”
Amesbury’s order came in response to a petition filed in county court Tuesday by state Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, which said the union’s strike would prevent students from receiving the mandated 180 days of education by June 30.
After that order, Amesbury was set to discuss a petition filed late Tuesday by Jeffrey Husisian, attorney for the National Education Association, requesting court-supervised negotiation, saying he was “inclined to grant” the request.
However, Amesbury was cut short by Vito DeLuca, attorney for the Dallas School District, who asked for a continuance based on the limited amount of time he had to prepare for the petition.
Amesbury granted the continuance, setting another hearing for Thursday at noon. But Amesbury, maintaining a stern tone, told the parties to expect an order Thursday.
“The goal will be, come heck or high water, to resolve this dispute,” he said. “There are too many people involved; too many children who have the right to an education.”
Amesbury suggested that, failing the court-supervised negotiations, other alternatives would be explored, including non-binding arbitration.
DeLuca did previously tell a Times Leader reporter that he and the board were “in complete support” of the petition for court-supervised sessions. After the hearing, he said the request for a continuance mostly came due to how quickly the filing came.
While DeLuca acknowledged that negotiations have continuously broken down, he said court-supervised negotiations would be different. Amesbury would set the schedule for those sessions, which could include an order to negotiate every day, even on weekends.
“It’s a little bit different when you’re in the same room with the same people, and you have jobs and lives and other things that have to get put on the side,” DeLuca said.
The negotiation session scheduled for Wednesday night is postponed pending the outcome of Thursday’s hearing, DeLuca said, adding he will use that time to meet with board members to discuss the implications of Amesbury’s ruling.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on twitter @PatKernan