Evergreen Park union, school board turn to mediator after 'outburst'

October 4, 2012 (EVERGREEN PARK, Ill.)

The two sides will instead us a mediator to communicate.

Following the contentious meeting overnight, the teachers union released a statement that members will no longer meet face-to-face with school officials after a "screaming outburst by the board's attorney… We are disappointed that the board members would allow their spokesperson to behave in such a disrespectful manner."

"The chief spokesperson for the board was asking a question and it was in a pretty condescending tone and one of our members was asking to not be spoken to in that manner. And as she kept asking to not be spoken to that way, the board attorney kept raising his voice until he was -- he did get his question out," Deneed Pajeau, Illinois Federation of Teachers, said. "Every time our member asked to not be spoken to in a condescending manner, he got louder."

School board members did not want to comment.

Evergreen Park teachers are in their third day of strikes. About 2,000 students will miss another day of school as their teachers walk the picket line.

At issue- health benefits, teachers' pay, and teacher evaluations being linked to student test scores. The school board admits it has a $16 million budget surplus, and is asking teachers to pay more for health benefits, so it can use that money for pensions and other expenses.

Also, the teachers stand to lose their earnings for each day they strike. The school board is suggesting that students will make up strike days with substitute teachers.

"This board does not intend to reward striking employees who harm the students, their parents and our community," the board said in a statement on Wednesday.

"To go ahead and say teachers can't make it up, you'll bring somebody else in, that isn't right," Ray Richter, Evergreen Park parent, said.

"I disagree with it very much so especially toward the end of the year the kids are crazy, bouncing off the wall to bring substitutes in to deal with that it's not right. It's not fair to do that to the kids," Tracy Jarrett, Evergreen Park parent, said.

A spokesperson from the American Federation of Teachers will arrive in Evergreen Park on Thursday afternoon.

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