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School Back on in Dedham as Tentative Deal Ends Teacher Strike

When Dedham's teachers took to the picket lines, it was Massachusetts' first public school teacher strike in 12 years

A tentative deal has been reached that has ended the Dedham teachers strike, Massachusetts' first such strike in over a decade.

Teachers and students will return to classrooms on Monday, officials from the teachers union and school district said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. While the deal is tentative, the head of the union said he believed it would quickly be ratified by teachers.

The officials stood side by side to announce the deal, though they didn't offer details ahead of a 4 p.m. Monday vote to ratify the deal.

"I think it's a good agreement. My suspicion is it will be ratified by 4:01, 4:02," said Tim Dwyer, the president of the union, the Dedham Education Association.

The teachers voted 248-2 Thursday in favor of striking, and the strike began Friday, after negotiations over a new contract broke down.

"What we really want to do is get to the process of healing. This has been a difficult process," Dedham schools Superintendent Michael Welch said.

Students will have to make up the day missed due to the strike.

As the strike started, both the teachers union and representatives of the school district claimed they had negotiated in good faith over issues including salary, health care and policies on sexual harassment and student cell phone use.

The sides met Saturday and Sunday, while hundreds of teachers dressed in red demonstrated at a rally, calling for a fair contract.

Dwyer credited the unity showed by teachers for the deal being reached. He also thanked the "wonderfully supportive" community that showed up to picket lines, including students and members of other unions.

The leaders of the Massachusetts Teachers Association cheered the Dedham Education Assocaition for showing resolve that "challenged the false premise that public schools must always be prepared to do more with less."

When Dedham's teachers took to the picket lines, it was Massachusetts' first public school teacher strike in 12 years. State law prohibits any public employees from striking, but the union's president said "we were left with no options."

The teachers union had said it's willing to accept fines and other punishment associated with striking. The Dedham School Committee petitioned the state's Department of Labor Relations to intervene to prevent the strike.

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