FAIRBORN — Fairborn City Schools (FCS) is currently investigating whether or not a high number of personnel absences intentionally disrupted in-person instruction on Monday.
The district was forced to switch to virtual instruction on Monday after an unusually high number of bus drivers called in sick, according to school officials. If it is found that bus drivers engaged in what amounts to an unauthorized strike or disruption of work, FCS may take legal action.
FCS initially notified parents of the switch to virtual schooling around 5 a.m. Monday, citing transportation issues district-wide.
The district sent a letter to the Dayton Public Service Union (DPSU) Local 101, which represents many Fairborn public school employees. The letter, signed by Superintendent Gene Lolli, details that 22 bus drivers had been absent the morning of Oct. 12, with little to no advance notice. Without sufficient public transportation, the district was forced last-minute to cancel in-person instruction, and move all students to online classes.
According to a statement by FCS, the district does not have evidence to suggest that this high volume of work absences is due to an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the bus drivers.
The district has contacted legal counsel, and is working to ascertain whether these actions violated the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the school district. The district will also file a motion for a temporary restraining order in court and an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB). According to the district statement, these actions may also violate Ohio law.
In the letter, the board of education invoked Article 27 of the DPSU Master Agreement, which states that the DPSU cannot support or sanction a strike during the lifetime of the agreement, and engaging in an unauthorized strike constitutes discipline or discharge of any participating employee.
“Employees who have engaged in any unauthorized strike, stoppage, slowdown, or other interruption of work are hereby directed to return to work immediately,” Lolli said in the letter. “Thank you in advance to those who continue to perform your duties and serve our students.”
The district said that any employees found to have intentionally disrupted school on Monday may face termination.
Representatives of DPSU Local 101 could not be reached for comment by press time.
Fairborn High School is doing virtual schooling this week due to an outbreak of COVID-19 on the football team. The remaining Fairborn schools plan to hold in-person instruction on Tuesday unless the district “experiences another rash of unexpected bus driver absences,” according to the statement. The district will communicate any updates to parents via TEC.
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
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