Fargo Teachers' Union files court papers to force the school board to continue contract negotiations

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) The disagreement between the Fargo Education Association (FEA) and the Fargo School Board's negotiations team is now heading to court.

The FEA says the school board violated North Dakota Century Code when it declared an impasse without the union's agreement. Now, the FEA says it has filed paperwork with the Cass County District Court to compel the school board to come back to the negotiating table.

The two organizations were attempting to create new teacher contracts, but had several sticking points, such as teacher salaries and safety concerns - leading the school board to walk away from negotiations and declare an impasse.

Declaring an impasse means both sides have agreed they aren't making progress through traditional negotiations meetings, leading the groups to create a new panel - one FEA representative, one Fargo School Board member, and one mutually agreed upon neutral party.

We reached out to the Fargo School Board President Robin Nelson, who said, "The Fargo Public Schools Board and District have been advised by our legal counsel to decline comment on this topic at this time. Thank you for understanding."

Read the FEA's full statement below:

Fargo Education Association President Says Teacher Negotiations Should Continue, Will Go to Court

A statement from Fargo Education Association President David Marquardt on the status of negotiations with the Fargo Public School Board:

“All the members of the Fargo Education Association support our school district’s primary mission: Educating and empowering all students to learn. When our students are struggling with a problem that they can’t seem to solve by themselves, we, the united educators of the Fargo Education Association, do not walk out on them. We stay at the table, and we work out solutions with them.

“As you may already know, the Fargo School Board declared impasse on Aug. 26, 2019, at our last negotiation session. FEA did not feel impasse was necessary, and our negotiators e-mailed each board member the reasons why, after the negotiation session. FEA also asked to continue negotiation talks at the Aug. 27, 2019, board meeting.

“FEA believes that the School Board violated North Dakota Century Code and our contract by declaring impasse. FEA has not agreed to impasse, and your negotiators want to continue to negotiate. We think we can work out an agreement; however, the School Board is refusing to work with us.

“For these reasons, the FEA has chosen to file papers in Cass County District Court to request that the School Board continues to negotiate with FEA.

“We are all on the same team in this effort. We want the same things, to provide all students with a safe and nurturing learning environment. And we all need to work together, not apart, on finding the best path forward and discovering solutions.”