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Orange County Teachers Union Sues District, Superintendent Barbara Jenkins Over Schools Reopening


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Orange County’s teachers union is suing the state’s fourth-largest district over its plan to reopen brick-and-mortar schools for the upcoming academic year. 

The lawsuit contends the plan will not keep students and teachers safe from the coronavirus. It also accuses Orange County Public Schools of refusing to turn over public records about outbreaks in schools. 

Rachel Castillo is a VPK teacher. She says she teaches 20 mostly 4-year-olds.

“I would love to know how I can social distance from my children especially on the first week of school, when some of my children are struggling separating from their parents. How am I to comfort a four-year-old and tell them it’s going to be OK, you’re going to be safe, when I am not touching or hugging that child as I am used to?”

Farrah Hawkins is a kindergarten teacher and mother of an OCPS student.

“But if I’m forced to go back as an educator. And I love what I do. I have taught kindergarten for over eight years and I love what I do. I love my students. I would have to change and rearrange our entire schedule. I would have to put her in face-to-face because I have no one else to watch her.”

The litigation also names as a defendant Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. A separate lawsuit was filed last week over the district’s reopening plan. 

The Orange County Classroom Teachers Association represents some 14,000 educators. The district says it does not comment on pending litigation.
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