Demonstrators attempt entry into district offices as negotiations drag on

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, February 21 2014 at 5:18 PM, Updated: Fri, February 21 2014 at 7:56 PM

Medford, Ore. -- There was tension on Friday as the community waited on word about the medford teacher strike. A district official said Friday morning there was a "high possibility of an agreement" in the afternoon hours.

As of 6:30 Friday evening, there was still no updated information from the Medford School District or Medford Education Association regarding just how close the two sides are to an agreement. At this point both parties have agreed to remain tight-lipped about the details of contract negotiations.

Friday was the fourth day in a row that the district and teachers union met to try and hammer out a deal.

Friday morning the bargaining process began again at 9:30.

NBC 5 News tried to get in touch with the Superintendent of the Medford School District, Dr. Phil Long but he was tied up in   negotiations.

However, a union spokesperson was available to speak with NBC 5.

"While we remain hopeful, there is an urgent need to settle a fair contract today. Teachers need to be back in classrooms with their students next week and quality education needs to return to medford schools now," said Lisa North, who is both a spokesperson for the MEA and a teacher.

North said the fact that both sides are still at the bargaining table is a good sign.

Demonstrators attempt to enter district building Friday morning

As the community plays the waiting game on word about teacher contract negotiations, parents and community members were out demonstrating Friday morning at the Medford School District offices.

"The district keeps saying they'll be there for us. They aren't answering. They aren't replying to our messages," said Medford parent Sara Felder.

The anger and disappointment, resulted in a demonstration on the steps of the district offices

"This is a form of civil disobedience and I think our society has been trained to think this is wrong. But this is how we practice democracy," said Nicholas Groves, a former student at South Medford High School.

Roughly 20 parents and community members gathered at seven Friday morning.

"We're going to wait for school board members to recognize us and settle a fair contract," said Groves.

The initial plan was to enter the building and demand a settlement, but that never happened.

Even while demonstrators said the rally was 100% peaceful, police and security were on hand keeping a watchful eye just in case.

"We are here to protect the rights of them and the rights of the district but it is my belief they will not let them in," said Lt. Kevin Walruff with the Medford Police Department.

Protesters ended up marching around the building, trying to find an unlocked door, but with no success.

"I think it's wrong that we can't come here and show this kind of support," said Groves.

Protesters were stuck on the steps, and they were stuck feeling frustrated.

"This situation is not good. It's hard," said Adriana Ledecma, a parent in Medford.


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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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