HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As teacher participation in "work to the rule" demonstrations has swelled in recent weeks, some educators say the state is trying to undermine their protests.
A memo issued last week by the state Department of Education said that teachers could be required to work beyond their seven-hour work day for school related activities that's usually done on a volunteer basis.
"The contract is more than just hours and teachers realize that," said Jim Williams, a member of the Board of Education.
"Teachers are professionals and we know that they put in extra hours."
Lack of progress in contract talks between the state and the teacher union prompted teachers at Campbell High School to conduct the first "work to the rule" protest three weeks ago.
Since then, the movement has grown to include teachers from 85 schools statewide.
Many who took part in today's protests said they were incensed by the state's memo.
"I was definitely angry at that comment ... trying to force us to volunteer. A lot of teachers already volunteer," said Campbell High School teacher Jester Galiza, who is an unpaid coach for the school cross country team.
"When I saw those comments, I felt like all of those volunteer hours that I put in were undermined and unappreciated."
Farrington High School teacher Larry Wayman added:
"For some someone in the business community ... to say to me that you know you need to be in your classroom, I just found that to be insulting and insensitive to what educators do."
Today's protests come a day after negotiators from the state and teacher's union met to discuss the latest proposal from the state.
But so far, there's little indication of a deal is imminent.