NATRONA HEIGHTS (KDKA) — Striking teachers in the Highlands School District are being forced back to the classroom Tuesday.

Union members walked off the job on April 13.  But, the Pennsylvania Department of Education says they cannot picket if the strike would extend the school year beyond June 15.  Teachers and other union staff members rallied outside the school board Monday night.

“There was a brief meeting Friday night to establish some ground rules going forward and both sides are working with the mediator…to come up with new dates,” PSEA Region Advocacy Coordinator Matt Edgell said.

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Local Steelworkers came out to support the teachers.

“These teachers are part of the reason we’re here.  They were down there [for us]. We were locked out. They supported us. Now, we’re going to be there for them,” Local 1196 Vice-President Todd Barbiaux said.

That support isn’t unanimous, though.  Some parents have become harsh critics.

“If you don’t like teaching here and you don’t like the amount of money you’re being paid, go down the road.  See how much your house is worth to try to sell and move down the road…but to keep raising our taxes because you want more money. It’s unrealistic,” one parent said.

The teachers have been working without a contract for 16 months.  Sticking points are wages and health care.