UPDATED 8/5/11 5:00 p.m.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association and state negotiation team went into a private meeting before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board Friday morning to see if they could settle their differences without a ruling from the board.

UPDATED A dozen or so people emerged from the two-hour meeting with no settlement. Public hearings will continue as scheduled, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 15.

Members of the state’s team assured Civil Beat they had no intention of sharing with the public what happened behind closed doors. Union president Wil Okabe, on the other hand, said he would be happy to talk afterward. He has not yet returned our calls.

For more than a month, the union and the state have been in a standoff over a contract Gov. Neil Abercrombie unilaterally imposed on Hawaii’s 12,500 public school teachers on July 1. Abercrombie said he was compelled to do so after negotiations reached an impasse, but union leaders say the state’s declaration of impasse was premature.

The scene was tense at the Labor Relations Board Thursday.

At 10:15, state chief negotiator Neil Dietz and a colleague waited outside the board office. Dietz said he expected about five or six representatives for the state to show up.

“I didn’t even know where this was,” Dietz said. “I’ve never done this before.”

He would not tell this reporter how he and his team prepared, and he was equally certain that he would have nothing to say after the meeting.

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude,” he said twice.

At 10:19, the union delegation marched in. One of them offered Dietz a bright greeting, which he returned with less enthusiasm.

At 10:20 , another member from the state team showed up, and the three entered the Labor Relations Board office behind the HSTA representatives.

Seven minutes later, Board of Education Chairman Don Horner breezed through to join the state team.

“What are you here for?” he asked, then said — playfully — that there’s a “fat chance” that anybody will have anything to say after the conference.

At 10:31, just a minute past the meeting’s scheduled start time, Board of Education member Jim Williams arrived and went into the closed meeting.

A member of HSTA’s team emerged after 11:30 and told a waiting colleague that she had no idea how long the meeting will last.

We’ll update this article as soon as possible after the meeting.

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