A Hamilton County Common Pleas judge has rejected an injunction request against Cincinnati Public Schools. The union representing teachers filed suit last week seeking to delay a return to in-person learning.
"Today, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas denied the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers' union motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the lawsuit," CPS wrote on Twitter. "We look forward to welcoming our students back into the classroom beginning tomorrow, Feb 2."
Today, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas denied the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers’ union motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the lawsuit. We look forward to welcoming our students back into the classroom beginning tomorrow, Feb 2. https://t.co/tofAf8iwnT pic.twitter.com/eIYWACYDPQ— I Am CPS (@IamCPS) February 1, 2021
Attorney Bennett Allen says the union wanted the issue to go to arbitration. "Nowhere in the contract are health and safety issues … excluded or removed from the binding agreement arbitration provision," he said Monday afternoon.
The district argues the issue is a labor dispute and should go to the state employment relations board for a decision.
Cincinnati Public Schools plans to resume the mix of in-person and remote learning Tuesday. Judge Lisa Allen's decision upholds that.
The union says 80% of teachers don't feel safe going back into classrooms without widespread coronavirus vaccination.
School district attorney Evan Priestle says that concern isn't well-founded, quoting a recent study from the CDC.
"As many schools have reopened for in-person instruction in some parts of the U.S. as well as internationally, school-related cases of COVID-19 have been reported but there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission," he says.
In a press release following the decision, CFT said "the Judge failed to recognize the union's fundamental right to enforce the terms of its contract with CPS." During a press conference held via Zoom later that same night, legal representative Bennett Allen said the decision "undermines collective bargaining."
"This ruling today has done damage not just to the collective bargaining process, but to the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, the Cincinnati Federation of Office Professionals, and all unions across the country as far as I'm concerned," Allen said. "We're dealing with very similar issues, and now you have undermined the power of the party's agreement."
Legal representative Karen Imbus called the decision "personally heartbreaking," saying that teachers won't have a chance for the vaccine to take effect before they return to teaching in-person.
"That to me is the most mind boggling part of CPS' entire reopening plan," Imbus said. "To rush it when we're right at the finish line is not something that I can comprehend."
CFT says that arbitration is still planned. You can read their full news release below.