STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - The Strongsville City School District called the first day of the teachers' strike "difficult" but added that the substitute teachers have all gone through background checks.
The Strongsville Education Association voted to go on strike on Sunday following tense negotiations with the district. On Monday, security guards were stationed outside each school, while teachers chanted along the picket line.
Strongsville Superintendent John Krupinski released this statement Monday evening:
"Today, March 4, we had an outstanding turnout of our student body that certainly reflects the support and confidence our families have placed in our school district. We thank our community and families for the support we are receiving.
"Needless to say these first days and week of teaching will be difficult, but we are doing everything in our power to improve the situation.
"Interviews and background checks identified qualified substitute teachers, who passed the criminal background checks all Strongsville teachers must pass, all day long. More are being processed and the number of substitute teachers will increase every day as we move forward.
"We have heard questions about the high school where we had fewer teachers than we had expected. We want the community to know that the conditions at the high school improved every hour. By the middle of the day, hallways were clear, students were in the classroom, and substitute teachers were teaching.
"We will keep our schools open. We will continue to add the substitute teachers we need. And we will continue to negotiate in good faith.
"We continue to put our strike preparation plan into effect. Families can stay up-to-date with the latest information by checking our website ( www.strongnet.org )."
The teachers also responded to the reported chaos on Monday:
"On Sunday, March 3, Strongsville School Board President David Frazee was quoted as saying that the first day of the district's teachers' strike would be "business as usual," but students at the high school sent reports out via Twitter that described the scene in their school as "pandemonium," "chaos," "anarchy," and "a warzone."
'"Welcome to day care," a high school student tweeted about an hour after school began.
'"While any list of all the ways in which operations were not "business as usual" would be hopelessly incomplete, the following reports were given by students at the high school:
"Students made their own four-class schedules, most by choosing from among classes in which they are not actually enrolled.
"Regardless of whether students were able to attend a "class" in which they were enrolled by name, no actual teaching occurred in any of the classrooms.
"Many classes went extended periods of time with little or no supervision.
"Some students reported that, while there were some teachers, there were none in their own classes.
"Most classes experienced overcrowding, with claims of anywhere from 40-70 students packed into classrooms.
"Students without seats in their classes were encouraged to sit on the floor or go to the auditorium, where students were reportedly out-of-control.
"There were widespread reports of high-school students watching Spongebob cartoons.
"Many students were reportedly told by administrators to leave and were assured that they would not be penalized for not coming to school for the duration of the strike.
"Reports were widespread that students would not return tomorrow.
"In short, not only were the district's operations anything but "business as usual," but the district's claims that they would be able to deliver the "meat and potato" subjects to their students was shown to be laughable.
"In light of the Board's egregious error in judgment to open school without a staff of qualified educators, the Strongsville Education Association unanimously passed a resolution to maintain the academic integrity of the district by disregarding any grades issued by so-called replacement teachers during the strike."