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Monday, October 13, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Court asked to end Marysville teacher strike

Times Snohomish County bureau

EVERETT — The Marysville School District this morning sought an injunction to end the 42-day teachers strike, a week after a parents group did the same.

The district's complaint targets the 690-member Marysville Education Association, while the parents group "Tired of the Strike" filed a complaint Oct. 6 against both the union and the district.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese will hear both complaints during a joint hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

"The strike has created an emergency entailing material and substantial interference with the District's primary responsibility — providing a sound educational program to the District's approximately 11,200 students," Michael W. Hoge, a Seattle attorney representing the school district, wrote in the filing.

The district in its filing asked a judge to declare the strike illegal and order teachers to return to work.

The filing came hours after mediation talks between the district and teachers ended Sunday night. No new talks are scheduled. Last week, Gov. Gary Locke met separately with both sides and threatened further action if school did not reopen today. Locke, who legally cannot compel a settlement, left Saturday for a 10-day trade mission to China.

Locke said this afternoon he has asked retired state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Utter and Denny Heck, chief of staff to former Gov. Booth Gardner, to evaluate both sides of the dispute in the capacity of an "independent third party" and prepare a report.

School district officials announced today that school would be closed tomorrow and Wednesday.

Earlier today, Marysville School District Superintendent Linda Whitehead told a news conference outside the Snohomish County Courthouse that even though union officials have said it's possible teachers would defy a court order, she believes teachers will adhere to a judge's order.

Washington Education Association spokesman Rich Wood, said the outcome remains to be seen. If the district is successful, it would ultimately be up to the teachers to decide whether to continue striking.

In response to Tired of the Strike's filing, district officials blamed the teachers union for causing the kinds of damage that the parents group wants a judge to address.

The group said in its complaint that Marysville students and their families have suffered from anxiety because they don't know when school will start and whether the strike will harm students' educational achievement. Because the strike likely will push the school year into next summer, family plans also will be disrupted, the group said in the complaint.

Tired of the Strike has asked that a judge declare the strike unlawful and find that any striking employee who does not return to school be fined up to $250 per day for not complying. It would also fined the union up to $500 per day. Brian Phillips, the Everett attorney representing Tired of the Strike parents, said yesterday that they are "pleased the district has come on board."

Phillips declined to comment on district officials accusing the teachers union for the strike.

"I don't know who is to blame but I do know we want the teachers back to work," Phillips said.

Phillips said he expects the judge will make a decision at the end of the hearing.

Jennifer Sullivan: 425-783-0604 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times Snohomish County bureau reporter J.J. Jensen contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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