Online call posted for occupation of school district offices today

Medford Education Association officials say a parent or community group is behind a Facebook posting calling for union supporters to occupy the offices of the Medford School District this morning.

The Facebook site, labeled Occupy 549C, has a posted message saying supporters of the teachers will gather outside the district offices in Central Medford High School at 7 a.m. and then "enter the building to demand a fair contract."

"We cannot leave until the school board agrees to drop its union breaking tactics and to settle a fair contract for the teachers," the posting continues. "If we are moved or cannot enter the building, we will continue our occupancy at the municipal court down the street."

MEA officials said they did not know the identity of the organizer of the Facebook page, but said they believed that the listed name, Greg Arious, was a pseudonym.

Lisa North, MEA spokeswoman and an elementary school instructional coach, said she had heard the action would be a "peaceful process" rather than a protest and added she didn't know if anyone involved would try to enter the building.

North said parents were moved to action because the Medford School Board had canceled public meetings and district officials were not returning phone calls.

The MEA Facebook page provided a link to the Occupy 549C site, and added the comment:

"Together we can show teachers that they aren't alone. Join with concerned parents and community members as they take a stand for the schools Medford students deserve! Return our quality teachers back their classrooms with a FAIR contract!"

In a comment on the Occupy549C page, the author identified as Arious said he recognized that teachers would not be able to accompany protesters onto district property but urged teachers to ask family and friends to participate.

By Thursday evening, the Facebook page indicated that 1,725 people had been invited to the protest. A little more than 100 had responded that they planned to attend.

Superintendent Phil Long said Thursday afternoon that he understood parent, student and community concerns. He said the district and MEA were close to resolving the contract and he hoped everyone would be able to celebrate a resolution within the next few days.


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