Palatine school district strike continues

PALATINE, Ill. --  The strike affecting school workers in Palatine will continue.

Representatives for the Education Support Personnel Association met with officials from Palatine School District 15 all day Sunday, but they couldn’t agree on a deal.

The ESPA represents over 400 nurses, classroom aides and clerical staff who have now been on strike for a week.

A judge ordered 170 of them back to work because they were vital to student safety.

“I'm forced to go back and I miss my people. I’m happy to be with my students again, but we're not whole until we're all back,” said special education program assistant Marla Denatale.

The next session of talks is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29.

“Once again, ESPA offered to enter 3rd party binding arbitration,” said Bridget Shanahan, a spokeswoman for the union’s parent group, the Illinois Education Association. “This is now the third time we've made that offer which would allow an outside party to come in, assess the situation and issue an agreement that both sides would have to honor. It would essentially end the strike right away. The board once again refused our request for third party arbitration.”

Schools will remain open during the work stoppage.

“There are presently 14 areas of contract agreement and three outstanding items remaining. the board is committed to negotiating in good faith until a fair agreement to both ESPA and our district 15 taxpayers is reached,” said school superintendent Dr. Scott Thompson. “The absence of many of our secretaries, clerical staff, program assistants and nurses has been hard on all of us, especially our children. we hope for a resolution soon. "

“They don't want to be on the picket line. They want to be in the schools working with their students in the classrooms that they work with every single day,” Shanahan said.

“I think that's one of the hardest things about this is that the teachers are feeling it, the students are feeling it, and the parents are. They're coming in to the schools to assist because we're valued and we're not there,” Denatale said.