Medford School Board Member's Home Vandalized

, Posted: Wed, January 15 2014 at 7:57 PM, Updated: Wed, January 15 2014 at 9:57 PM

The clock is ticking. Teacher contract negotiations have stretched for almost a year. As of Wednesday, there was still no deal and tensions are rising.

Medford School Board member Kim Wallan said the controversy stemming from negotiations has spilled into her personal life.

"We've had nasty notes left, signs with notes scrawled on them, we got egged, somebody left a bag of feces human or dog we don't know, with toilet paper on the front porch," she said.

According to Wallan, it all started this past fall and it prompted her to call police.

"I know there's been more of a police presence around our home," said Wallan.

Vandalism Connected to Contract Negotiations

She said she was sure the vandalism was connected to contract negotiations.

"There were signs saying support our teachers with notes scrawled on the back, give us our money back or give the teachers their money back," she recalled.

Wallan said the vandalism was probably done by kids, but wasn't sure.

According to her son, Eric Wallan, they get 3-4 pieces of hate mail a day.

"We've had a lot of hate mail, a lot of mail coming in saying it's my mom's fault," said Eric.

In addition, he said those letters make him angry partially because they are largely anonymous, and rarely signed with a first and last name.

Tension Spreading to the Classroom for Board Member's Son

"I've had to be moved out of a certain class because I had problems with the teacher having blame put on me," Eric Wallan said.

He revealed school has been hard, claiming peers are ganging up on him. While he said he stands up for himself, it's still not easy to hear what people have to say about his mom.

"I get hurt. It's really sad to see what they do to my mom. It hurts me," said Eric.

"He's overheard a lot of people say a lot of unpleasant things about [me]," said Kim Wallan.

That's why Wallan, whose board position is unpaid, said it's been difficult to send him to class every day.

"He misses school some, I'm not going to lie about that and it's hard for me to insist that he go when it feels hostile," she said.

The hostility has continued for months as teachers and the district continue to struggle to find common ground in a contract battle that's now become personal.

Medford Police said they're aware of the vandalism and have passed around board member's information in case there is a call for service.

The Medford School District Superintendent, Dr. Phil Long, said it's mostly people on the periphery of negotiations who are causing concern.

Cheryl Lashley, President of the Medford Education Association (MEA) said the association does not condone or encourage what happened at Wallan's home. She said teachers have too much to lose and wouldn't engage in vandalism. Lashley said teachers are educators, not law breakers.

Where the District and Teachers Stand on Negotiations

Dr. Long said the board wants the MEA to bring the district's latest contract proposal to the teachers themselves to vote for or against.

"We think that if they were to talk with our employees, their members, they would find that a lot of people would like to resolve this and be done," said Long.

The district and the teacher's association spent almost nine hours at the bargaining table on Tuesday.

"Sometimes it's easy to forget that we do all of that as a service to the community and that can be frustrating," said Wallan.

While many issues have been resolved, Long said major sticking points on pay and retirement benefits remain.

He said the Association said they wanted more money on Tuesday night. However, according to Long and others on the school board,  allocating more money to pay teachers can't be done without cutting back services for students.

Long said while they value their teachers and recognize the challenges with class sizes going up, he said the financial package the district is currently offering is the best they can do.

"In all of our public meetings we hear a lot about class sizes, class sizes are too big, we need to hire more teachers. If we use all the money paying all the ones we have now, then we cannot have more and it's that simple," said Wallan.

Meanwhile, Lashley said the MEA is planning to meet with teachers next week to see if they are willing to accept the district's offer. If they decide against accepting the terms, Lashley said the next step could be a strike.

To receive the most current updates on teacher contract negotiations, visit the Medford School District's website or search out Medford Education Association on Facebook.

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