Union leaders say Akron Public Schools not doing enough to address violence in district

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – The Akron Education Association says Akron Public Schools isn’t doing enough to address increasing violence in the school district.

On Oct. 13, the union board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution of “no confidence” in the district’s office of student support services, Hearing Officer Valerie Riedthaler and the office of special education.

According to the union, which represents over 2,400 members, several buildings in the district have seen a rise in violence since the beginning of the school year.

This includes students bringing guns and other weapons to school, making bomb threats, using pyrotechnics in the classroom and assaulting administrators, staff and other students.

The union sent the resolution to Akron Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack on Oct. 15.

“While AEA and its members recognize the impact the pandemic and its related effects have on APS students and families, we strongly feel that school districts such as ours cannot continue to employ the pandemic as a sole reason for all the increased severe student behaviors we are witnessing within our schools and communities at-large,” said AEA President Patricia Shipe.

Shipe said union members rallied at a Akron Public Schools’ Board of Education meeting in 2018 over the same issue.

At the time, Shipe requested the district to start following the code of student behavior, stop violating the collective bargaining agreement and make sure students who act inappropriately are met with proper consequences.

The union once again believes the district isn’t doing enough to stop violence in schools.

The resolution calls on the office of student support and security to “immediately adhere to language within the Collective Bargaining Agreement and apply the negotiated consequences outlined in the Code of Student Behavior.”

The union hopes to meet with Akron Public Schools’ superintendent in the upcoming weeks to come up with a plan to cut back on these issues.

In a statement, Akron Public Schools marketing director Mark Williamson said, “We are currently in the process of scheduling a meeting and working with the AEA on this.”

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