A group of Strongsville residents rallied on the City Commons Friday afternoon, calling for striking teachers to cross the picket lines and get back to their classrooms.
"We want to encourage the teachers to get back to school, to accept the contract and get past this," said Paul Komarek, who organized the rally. "We want the teachers to cross the picket lines."
Komarek, a former Strongsville resident who created a Facebook page to spread his message, said he believes the contract the Strongsville School Board is offering is fair, and said the strike "is really embarassing the community at this point."
"The union needs to stop all the intimidation and bullying because it's hurting our students," he said.
A rotating group of parents, students and concerned taxpayers stood at the corner of Royalton and Pearl roads from 3-7 p.m., holding signs and cheering as motorists honked their support.
Jackie Litz, whose grand-nieces and grand-nephew attend Strongville schools, said she and her husband are physically unable to stand with the ralliers, so instead she brought them fresh-baked muffins.
"These teachers are paid more than most others in the state," Litz said. "Their behavior is setting a very bad example."
While only three teachers are known to have crossed picket lines since the strike began two weeks ago, Komarek said he knows of nearly a dozen others who want to cross but are "afraid of repercussions."
He said the rallies will continue from 4-7 p.m. every Saturday until the strike is over.
UPDATED SATURDAY, MARCH 16: Negotiations Set for Sunday in Teachers' Strike
Meanwhile, the Strongsville Education Association has set a press conference for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the North Eastern Ohio Education Association offices in Garfield Heights.
The SEA asked all five school board members to attend a negotiating session on Saturday, but Board President David Frazee said the district's negotiating team will meet only when a federal mediator calls for a session.
The SEA, in a statement, called that "stall tactics," and SEA President Tracy Linscott said "the board is refusing to negotiate."
The SEA and supporters held a rally on the Commons last Friday afternoon.
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