Newton Families Take Legal Action to End Ongoing Teacher Strike and Restore Education for Students

WOBURN, Mass. — Families in Newton, Massachusetts are seeking legal intervention to end the ongoing teachers’ strike that has led to seven consecutive school days of canceled classes. Lital Asher-Dotan, a mother of three Newton Public School students, filed a motion with the Middlesex Superior Court on Monday, arguing that the strike violates her children’s state constitutional right to a public education. Approximately 20 other families have also submitted letters supporting the motion.

Although Massachusetts law prohibits teachers from striking, educators in five communities, including Brookline, Malden, Haverhill, Woburn, and Andover, have engaged in strikes for at least a day since May 2022. Newton Public Schools has the highest enrollment among these districts, with nearly 12,000 students. The strike, which started on January 19 and continued throughout the previous week, has resulted in fines totaling $425,000 for the Newton Teachers Association (NTA). The judge has also stated that additional fees of $50,000 per day will be imposed for each day the strike persists.

Asher-Dotan expressed concerns about the negative impact of the strike on her children, stating that it hampers their academic progress and isolates them from their social circles. In her motion, she emphasized that merely extending the school year to make up for lost days does not address the significant disruption caused by the strike. She urged the judge to take immediate action to end the strike.

The NTA responded to the family’s motion, asserting that private citizens do not have legal standing to seek injunctive relief in a public sector strike. The association emphasized that its primary goal is to reopen schools and ensure that students receive the necessary support, such as aides, behavior therapists, and social workers. The NTA argued that the current wages offered by the Newton district are insufficient to attract qualified individuals for these positions, posing challenges to students’ education and mental health.

Both parties met on Monday for an hour of negotiations, but no significant progress was reported. The biggest point of contention between the teachers and the district is the issue of pay raises. In support of the striking teachers, Newton educators and their supporters rallied outside Newton City Hall.

The ongoing strike in Newton highlights the tensions between teachers and the district over working conditions and funding. Families are seeking legal intervention to ensure their children’s right to education while teachers advocate for improved resources and fair contracts. As negotiations continue, the future of education in Massachusetts remains uncertain.