MAPLEWOOD, NJ — On behalf of the South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD), the Board of Education filed a verified complaint and order to show cause with the Chancery Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
If the district is successful, a judge will order the South Orange Maplewood Education Association (SOMEA) to return to school buildings for phase 3 of reopening. The district is also asking that SOMEA be compelled to file all grievances through the process agreed upon in the January 27 agreement.
These legal proceedings will not impede the ongoing mediation process agreed to by both the district and SOMEA. Both parties have met with the state appointed mediator separately, but it has not been announced when the joint mediation sessions will begin.
In a statement the Board of Education said “While the Board is hopeful that a voluntary agreement can be reached through mediation, the Board also believes its unique reopening circumstances provide support for a legal remedy.”
In his statement to families during Monday night’s board meeting Superintendent Ronald Taylor did not rule out pursuing any other legal options at the recommendation from the district’s counsel.
The district has two weeks until March 15, the date that teachers will be returning to school buildings for hybrid learning. However, without orders from a judge or a binding agreement that comes out of mediation, schools could close again should the district not meet SOMEA’s standards of safety.
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