By Linda (Linjun) Fan
The Board of Education of Albany Unified School District decided to table the layoff of six teachers of Albany High School, after hearing an outpouring of protest from parents and other members of the community Tuesday.
“In my opinion, there are folks on this list who are excellent teachers, ” said Board Member Ronald Rosenbaum. “And I also have problems with the way the decision was made. ”
School administrators recently decided to lay off six probationary teachers of Albany High School, and submitted a layoff list to the Board for approval at Tuesday’s meeting.
Although the Board usually approves personnel recommendations from staff, it voted unanimously to put off the layoff plan, after a number of parents spoke passionately in support of the teachers, particularly the three ones in the Special Education Department of the high school.
Many parents said that they were speaking for their children who don’t want their beloved teachers to leave.
“I am here today after a very hard day in court all day long, because my son said ‘ Mom, you have to go to that meeting'”, said Graciela Estrada, mother of a special education child at the high school.
“And here I am, because I saw the desperation in him, and I am very frustrated, ” Estrada said.
Although all three teachers of the Special Education Department got layoff notices originally, only the name of one appeared on the layoff list. The other two were given tenures instead.
The two teachers are eligible for permanent employment because they have served in the school for more than three years, when their internship days were counted, said Superintendent William Wong.
Wong said that the district made the decision last week after a recent court case, which has set the precedent to count internship period into formal years of service.
Parents questioned whether school administrators intended to lay the teachers off to remodel the special education department.
“We are not anticipating any real change of the model, but we’d like to move slowly, I think, in the direction of providing more support in general education classes, ” said Marla Stephenson, Deputy Superintendent of the school district.
Stephenson said that “dramatic changes” won’t happen in the next school year. Parents asked school administrators to meet with them before making any major changes to the program.
“There are kids who can’t flourish in general education, there are kids who really need to have those more self-contained classrooms where teaching is at a slower pace, ” said Carol Gallegos, who has a ninth-grade son that thrives in the school with the help of special education.
School administrators haven’t explained the specific reasons for the layoff to the Board, according to Board President Charles Blanchard.
“I need more information on how the decision was made and what were the criteria,” Blanchard said.
The Board will discuss the issue again at its next meeting on March 11.
It approved laying off six teachers of Albany Middle School, and several elementary school teachers Tuesday.
Click here to read a previous story on the issue.