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CCSD seeks court action to stop ‘rolling sickouts’

Updated September 11, 2023 - 8:49 pm

The Clark County School District filed an emergency motion in court Monday that seeks to stop “rolling sickouts” that have closed three schools and disrupted operations at two others this month.

The district announced Monday night that it filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to “stop the continuance of a strike” by educators represented by the Clark County Education Association.

“The actions of licensed educators have forced the closure of three CCSD schools and severely disrupted the operations of two additional schools through a targeted and coordinated rolling-sickout strike,” the district said in a news release.

A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday before District Judge Crystal Eller, according to online court records.

The district said it filed the motion due to the ”escalating nature of the rolling sickouts” reported starting Sept. 1, noting “there is no indication that they will cease without court intervention.”

Contentious negotiations

The teachers union wasn’t immediately available to comment Monday night.

Contract negotiations between the district and union have been underway since late March, sparking teacher protests. The latest bargaining session was Monday, and another is slated for Tuesday.

The district’s motion is in the lawsuit it filed in late July against the teachers union seeking a court order to prevent a future teacher strike. The union filed a motion to dismiss.

District Judge Jessica Peterson denied the injunction request last month, saying there wasn’t enough evidence that a teacher strike would occur. But she said she found CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita’s statements concerning and that she could reconvene court on a one-day notice, if needed.

In its motion Monday, the district wrote it “defies logic” to suggest that “mass absences” constitute anything other than a strike.

2023-09-11 – Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction OST by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

Three district schools — Gibson, Sewell and Givens elementary schools — each closed for a day because of unexpected staffing shortages.

Two others — Monaco Middle School and Southeast Career Technical Academy — remained open, but moved students to large areas on campus.

In a statement last week about the Gibson closure, the district said students shouldn’t be used as “bargaining leverage” by the teachers union or its members.

Union official disputes district stance

The union said multiple times last week that the staffing situations at the schools weren’t part of union actions.

Vellardita told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday that the district’s reference in its statement to the union is “nonsense.”

He said the union learned of what occurred at Gibson when everyone else did and it wasn’t approved by the union. Vellardita also said that at schools with high vacancy rates, it doesn’t take many absences to put it in a “really challenging spot.”

The district didn’t respond to Review-Journal requests last week for data about how employees called in sick or how many substitute teachers were available. But it provided numbers for the first time publicly as part of Monday’s court documents.

More than 87 percent of licensed employees — 29 of 33 — called in sick at Gibson.

At Monaco, 69 percent of licensed educators — 37 of 54 — called in sick.

“Fortunately, administrators, staff, and the teachers who reported to work were able to alter class schedules to avoid a complete school closure,” the district wrote in the motion. “Regardless, the mass absences substantially disrupted the operations of the school and impacted the educational efficiency of the students.”

At Sewell, 72 percent of licensed employees — 29 of 40 — called in sick. And at Givens, 65 percent — 26 of 40 — did.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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