A woman walked past the main building of Albany High School. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.
At least four teachers of Albany High School were notified last week that they would be laid off soon. The layoff came as a shock to many parents and teachers involved with special education in the community.
Three of the four full-time teachers of the Special Education Department of the school received the layoff notices last Friday.
“I am profoundly shocked and deeply sorry to hear that these three dedicated and much-loved teachers are being let go, ” said Anne Bosch, a retired teacher of the department, in a letter to school administrators and board members.
“I know from over 20 years of experience at AHS that it is rare to find teachers who care so deeply about ‘special’ students and who are so loved, ” said Bosch, who served as Chair of the Special Education Department of the high school for more than two decades before her retirement last year.
The three teachers provide help to several dozen students in the school who have learning problems.
Many students spent the day in tears when they got to know last Friday that their teachers would soon leave, according to Tina Klugman, a long-time aid of the department.
“They have developed a personal relationship with the kids. They are like their extended family, ” Klugman said.
Administrators of the Albany Unified School District declined to comment on the layoff, saying that it’s a personnel issue legally prohibited to be discussed with the public.
“I will say that all personnel decisions that we make are very carefully considered and made in what we believe to be the best interests of the students, ” said Ted Barone, Principal of the school in an email reply to a parent who inquired about the layoff.
Some believe that the district lays the teachers off to deal with budget problems.
“I think what they are doing is budget-cut, firing all the teachers before they get tenure, ” said Suzanne Portney, mother of a special education child.
All the teachers to be laid-off were hired in recent years and have not yet acquired a tenure.
However, President of Albany’s School Board Charles Blanchard said that budget cut is not the reason for the layoff.
“There are no layoffs expected due to budget cuts next year, except for some positions supported by state categorical funds that may be cut, ” Blanchard said.
He added that the school district has enough reserve funds to deal with revenue reduction in the upcoming academic year, but didn’t say what’s the reason for the layoff.
He also said that all layoff decisions are currently staff recommendations only, which won’t become effective until they are approved by the Board.
The Board is going to discuss the issue at its upcoming meeting next Tuesday.
Bosch has written an email to a number of parents with special education children, asking them to attend the meeting. She has also been urging the school district to keep the teachers.
One teacher in the English Department of the school has also received a layoff notice, according to Department Chair Ned Purdom. He said that a few more teachers in the school might have got similar notices.
Click here to read a recent story on the school district’s budget cut.