A new policy memo published by the Goldwater Institute lays out the legal concerns surrounding the illegal teacher strike that occurred this year and how the Arizona Board of Education can act to prevent future school closures.
According to the Goldwater Institute’s memo, while the strikes had financial and educational repercussions for parents and teachers, the legal ramifications of the strikes are also “disturbing.”
Because it is unlawful for public employees to strike—and the Arizona Constitution guarantees the state’s kids a right to an education, school districts that participate in such strikes by shutting down schools are denying the constitutional right to an education to “those too young to pay taxes and who have no vote.”
Both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Attorney General have issued opinions agreeing with that perspective.
The Goldwater Institute memo argues that when the illegal #RedForEd school closures occurred this past spring, Arizona school districts were all too accommodating, with some districts even choosing to remain closed when teachers wanted to return to work.
The Goldwater memo maintains that it is the responsibility of the State Board of Education to enforce the law.
“The #RedForEd school shutdowns were blatantly illegal, and the State Board of Education has the power to discipline those public school employees who have engaged in illegal conduct,” said Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur, who authored the memo. “The Board ought to take action to prevent unlawful activity that jeopardizes students’ education.”
The State Board of Education was expected to discuss legal strategies for dealing with unlawful strikes at its June 25 meeting, but that item was removed from the agenda at the last moment. “We’re disappointed that this discussion was pulled,” said Sandefur. “The Board has both the power and the duty to ensure that there are no repeats of these illegal school closures, and we hope the Board will take up this important issue at a future meeting,” Sandefur said.