MERIDIAN, Idaho — A judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a group of parents over West Ada School District teachers calling out sick en masse earlier this fall.
The organized "sick-out" in October came after teachers expressed concerns over the school district's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the decision to return students to the classroom in spite of what some staff members felt were lax protocol in place to prevent the virus' spread.
Hundreds of teachers called in sick, forcing the cancellation of classes. The sick-out ended and teachers returned to work after two days.
But a group of parents in the district, backed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, filed a lawsuit, claiming the teachers' actions amounted to an illegal strike.
Daniel Suhr Sr., the parents' attorney, argued that because educators are "essential workers," the sick-out was illegal, and a judge should rule to block similar protests in the future.
Judge Michael Reardon disagreed, siding with the West Ada Education Association and dismissing the suit late last week.
The West Ada Education Association and the Idaho Education Association praised the judge's decision in a joint statement, calling the lawsuit a "sideshow" and a "political and publicity stunt."
Scroll down to read the entire statement.
The dismissal of this case underscores the fact that it was a political and publicity stunt without merit. We are glad this sideshow has been dismissed so we can all focus on the most important issue—the safety of students and staff in the West Ada School District.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation manufactured this legal complaint for one purpose only; raising money to fuel their anti-public school agenda. When the Idaho legislature comes together in 2021 do not be surprised when the Idaho Freedom Foundation renews their tired and empty call to defund public education and erode trust in our schools. Educators are the bedrock of our communities in Idaho and deserve to be treated with respect rather than contempt. It is the responsibility of school districts to provide safe working environments and attempts to attach blame to educators regarding unsafe working conditions are misplaced.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation has a long history of losing frivolous lawsuits and this case follows in that tradition. The truth is that the dismissal of the case shows that it did not have merit and would have been a waste of everyone's time if it had moved forward. In the meantime, the West Ada Education Association and the West Ada School Board continue to work together to ensure students have a safe and caring learning environment. And make no mistake, the members of the West Ada Education Association and the Idaho Education Association will continue to stand up for themselves and their students.
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