By Alexa Schwerha
Daily Caller News Foundation

Akron Public School teachers announced they would go on strike days after students are scheduled to return from winter break and cited safety as one of their top concerns after multiple reports of campus violence, according to a Thursday news release obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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The strike is scheduled to begin on Jan. 9 while students return to classrooms on Jan. 6, the news release read. Akron Educational Association (AEA) union members claimed that school safety was a top concern for its members after students exhibited violent behavior.

Two students reportedly had guns on school property earlier this month, while two others were stabbed in separate incidents in November, Fox 8 reported. Teachers are reportedly resigning at record rates.

“Weeks of unparalleled fighting are now daily occurrence within Akron school buildings, yet the superintendent and the board continue to want to water down the definition of assault and force students, teachers, parents and families to endure more violence, disorder and disruption to the education of the majority of Akron students,” the news release read.

The union criticized district leadership for not partaking in a state-funded program which provided $58 million toward school safety.

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“AEA is outraged that Akron Public Schools is spending $3.5 million which could have been used to attract and retain high-quality teachers when Governor DeWine’s safe schools grant would have covered 100% of the $3.5 million which Akron Public Schools is now spending,” the release says.

The union and the administration failed to reach contract agreements after negotiations began in April. An impasse was declared in May, according to Fox 8.

“We countered their proposal and the ball is now in their court,” Pat Shipe, AEA president, told the Akron Beacon Journal. “We’re 100% committed, if the board [negotiators] would like to sit down and continue talking, we’re open to do that.”

The union is reportedly prepared to strike unless a contact is reached, according to the Beacon Journal.

“Akron Public Schools respects and values its teachers and the work they do for children every day,” Mark Williamson, Akron Public Schools director of communications, told the DCNF in a prepared statement. “We know that if we keep negotiating, we can reach an agreement in the best interests of Akron educators, students, parents, and our community. APS is prepared to stay at the table day in and day out to resolve this situation and keep children learning. We hope the Akron Education Association shares this commitment with us.”

This article has been updated with comment from Akron Public Schools.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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