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Legal Scope: What if the AZ teacher walkout continues into next week?

Posted at 3:25 PM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 21:47:31-04

The Arizona teacher walkout is unprecedented. Teachers have entered unchartered legal waters and appear to be taking this days at a time.

So far, we know the walkout is at least two days, but what happens when it reaches day 3 -- day 4 -- and beyond. Could teachers face legal consequences -- like losing their teaching certificates or jobs?
KGUN9 spoke to a labor attorney Steve Portell.

He says the walkout itself is not illegal. It's not really a strike -- there are no picket lines preventing teachers from entering schools.

The Red for Ed movement -- the teachers -- gave the districts fair warning so they are not abandoning their classrooms, which in that case would be against state law.
But in this case?

"Here's the reality. The reality is taking punitive action even so much as a letter of censure against a particular individual teacher is impractical because the movement is too large. How do you then in a right to work state enforce what are essentially going to have to be a case by case by case individual situations to show that their activities were somehow outside the boundaries. And that's every difficult," said Portell.

Difficult for districts. Portell says administrators will have to tread very carefully if they choose to discipline individual teachers during or after the duration of the walkout.

So legally, Portell says there's really not much preventing a long-term walkout.