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Suits temporarily halt career center layoffs

Laid-off Collins Career Center teachers will keep their jobs at least for another week, following an agreement between the union and the board this week.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Laid-off Collins Career Center teachers will keep their jobs at least for another week, following an agreement between the union and the board this week.

"All parties have agreed to a temporary restraining order," superintendent Perry Walls said, adding he could not comment further.

The matter will come before Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Walton for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 2.

Two lawsuits filed this week – Janice J. Wolfe vs. the Board of Education of the Lawrence County Joint Vocational School (LCJVS) and Lawrence County Vocational Teachers Association vs. LCJVS Board of Education, according to clerk of courts records – apparently prompted the temporary restraining order.

Vocational school officials and union representatives met Wednesday, agreeing to the order.

In a prepared statement, the union said the Jan. 2 hearing seeks "an injunction to extend employment for an indefinite period of time for the teachers affected by the board’s action on November 26."

On that date, the Collins Career Center board announced layoffs for up to 10 teaching and administrative positions, citing a loss of enrollment that affected the district’s state funding.

"It’s a bad situation, but when you lose 55 students, what can you do?" said board president Gerald Love.

Love said he had not seen Wednesday’s lawsuits and could not comment, but added that he and other board members did everything they could to find a solution.

"We did what we did because of a loss of students," he said. "It would be the equivalent to losing 300-plus kids in a regular school district (because Collins serves only juniors and seniors). What would they do?"

The board and superintendent also said they had hoped that the state’s "parity aid" and the DeRolph decision would equal more operating dollars but just the opposite happened.

At this month’s board meeting, students and teachers protested the board’s decision to enact the layoffs – commenting that everyone should have known about and been dealing with financial problems before now.

In the association’s statement this week, president Harold Henderson said the employment extension (due to the restraining order) will allow reassigned teachers more time to prepare for the remainder of the school year.

"The Lawrence County Vocational Teacher’s Association and the Ohio Education Association will continue to work cooperatively with the LCJVS board to provide quality programs, to save teaching positions, and to guarantee a bright future for Vocational Education for Lawrence County students and the Community," the statement said.