PULASKI COUNTY, AR - Eighteen days before students and teachers return to the classroom.
The unions, who represent teachers and support staff in the Pulaski County Special School District hope to once again be recognized. They've gone to court to be reinstated.
"It's about union busting. It's about trying to take control over others," said Judy Stockrahm, a member of the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers.
The Arkansas Department of Education asked a judge to throw out their lawsuit. But the unions argued the district should be forced to honor their five year contracts. After abolishing the unions in April, State Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell told district leaders to cut benefits without negotiating with the unions.
"If I don't like something in a contract, I have to wait until that contract is expired, then I can change it but we have a five year contract, with the district, not with the state," said PASS President Emry Chesterfield.
The unions said Kimbrell had no right to terminate their contracts. That's why they named him in a lawsuit.
However, attorneys representing the state say statute mandates the Education Commissioner become the school board when a district is in fiscal distress.
PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess said they could not have balanced the school budget with the unions' financial demands.
"The changes that we have proposed are critical to the district and I think it's important to point out we believe we're acting in the best interest of the students in the district," Guess said.