Teachers union files lawsuit against state over work mandate despite school closures

Teachers union files lawsuit against state over work mandate despite school closures
Some 13,700 teachers are employed in Hawaii's public school system. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii State Teachers Association has asked a judge to block the state Department of Education’s earlier order for teachers to continue working in classrooms after originally extending spring break until April 7. Yesterday, the DOE announced schools would remain closed until at least April 30.

The lawsuit, filed in circuit court on Tuesday, says Governor David Ige abused his authority and exceeded his emergency powers by suspending state collective bargaining laws and issuing orders that conflict with his social distancing orders for the public, placing teachers and students in danger.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced the new delay for students’ return to campus on Wednesday, though also said that teachers and administrators must continue to work ― from home or on campus ― to come up with plans for remote learning and the eventual return of students.

The union called the worsening coronavirus pandemic an "unsafe and hazardous condition which imminently endangers the health and safety” of teachers, students and families.

Union leaders are asking the judge to prevent the governor or superintendent from requiring HSTA members and children to report to their schools until the outbreak is over or controlled.

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