A Newton parent filed a motion with the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board alleging the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) strike, which has now lasted eight school days, interferes with her children’s state constitutional right to a public education.
“This proposed parent intervenor is witnessing firsthand the severely detrimental effects of this strike on her children’s education, extracurricular activities, and overall well-being,” the filing reads.
The emergency motion to intervene calls on the court to impose sanctions on the NTA that would compel them to immediately end the strike.
“The Court should impose such sanctions to such degree as to overcome whatever financial resources the NTA is receiving to resist the orders thus far,” the filing reads.
The NTA has been fined $475,000 as of Monday night and will continue to be fined an additional $50,000 at 8:00 p.m. for each day of its strike.
Newton resident Lital Asher-Dotan filed the motion. She is the mother of three children in the Newton Public School district, with one at Oak Hill Middle School and two at Newton South High School (NSHS).
The motion argues the strike qualifies as economic coercion and denial of educational opportunities, violating state laws granting the right to an education.
“[Asher-Dotan] has the right to her children receiving that public education, without interference and interruption of that state constitutional right to such public education,” the filing reads.
In the documents, Asher-Dotan said one of her children, who is a sophomore at NSHS, is on an Individualized Education Program and is missing necessary instruction as a result of the strike.
“Missing regular assistance in reading, writing, and math could jeopardize her chances of college acceptance,” the filing reads.
Asher-Dotan also described the social and emotional consequences of the strike on her children, particularly her son who is also a sophomore at NSHS.
“The strike has isolated him from his main social circle, leading to growing depression and detriments to his mental health,” the filing reads.
Tensions between anti-strike parents and the union came to a head on Monday evening, when some parents came to a press conference and demanded to speak with teachers. One resident physically blocked the entrance to the room.
Brenna Green, a teacher at Cabot Elementary School said the NTA could choose who can and cannot attend press conferences.
“This room has been assigned to us as our private bargaining room for the negotiations process, and so this is a members-only meeting, and we’re able to determine who’s invited,” Green said.
Denise Cremin, a teacher at Newton North High School, said she empathizes with the parents who are frustrated with the strike.
“I have a child in Newton Public Schools, so I absolutely 100 percent understand how parents are feeling,” Cremin said. “My daughter wants to go back to school. I want to go back to school.”
Cremin said the union isn’t concerned about whether the new lawsuit will result in new punitive measures.
“I also know that there is no injunctive standing for someone to take this kind of action against a public union,” Cremin said.