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Scores of Oakland teachers receive pink slips

By Katy Murphy
Monday, March 15th, 2010 at 4:21 pm in budget, teachers.

pink slip

The Oakland school district administration has sent preliminary layoff notices to up to 60 58 of its 2,300 teachers and counselors in addition to including five part-time counselors, nine adult education teachers and 44 teachers who apparently have not received a mandated state certification to teach English learners, Troy Christmas, the director of labor relations just told me.

Note: These are tenured employees, and the layoff notices are not final. They mean that the teachers might not be employed by OUSD in the fall.

(This number has changed throughout the day; it was exceedingly difficult to pin down, for some reason. My apologies.)

This is the first time since I’ve covered Oakland schools that the district has sent out these “Reduction in Force” slips, a sign of just how tough the going is. OUSD plans to cut $85 million from its total budget (and $37 million from its general purpose fund) next year.

Here’s an explanation of the process from Spokesman Troy Flint:

In the event that the layoff is upheld and the Governing Board votes to eliminate the positions, employees will receive a May 15 notice that their position is eliminated and that they will be placed on a reemployment list which provides them with priority reemployment rights based on seniority.

In addition to the layoffs, 47 temporary and untenured teachers (those in their first or second years) learned they wouldn’t be asked to return in the fall. The district doesn’t have to give a reason for letting these people go, though the school board might end up rescinding some of these notices, as they have in the past.

Also: 226 teachers and 89 administrators whose salaries are funded by special-purpose funds learned that they might be shifted to other jobs in the district — or, if they are not tenured, that they might lose their jobs. Some of those teachers also received pink slips.

How are you — or your school — being affected by these notices?

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  • Frustrated

    I don’t know who received a slip, so I don’t know how our school will be affected. How does one find out who received a pink slip?

  • Katy Murphy

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you value privacy), the names of the individuals and schools are not made public — by the district.

    At about this time last year, though, people started coming forward at school board meetings and making the case for individual teachers (without tenure) or principals who who had received a notice saying they wouldn’t be back in the fall.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Katy, do you have a number of teacher FTEs the district is predicting it will have come August, and how that compares with this school year?

    In other words, how much will the cuts affect overall teacher:student ratio in the coming year? The coming three years?

  • Katy Murphy

    I don’t have the answers to your questions, but I hope to have them soon.

  • Terry McGlynn

    At Edna Brewer Middle School two highly regarded teachers who are technically 2 year teachers were informed they would be terminated at year’s end. One teacher (a special education teacher) I do not know but have heard moving testimony to the difference she has made in her students’ lives from a step-father of one student. The other teacher is my son’s 7th grade English teacher. He actually called me at work, upset about the news. The teacher, Ms. Lord, has high test scores and is a dedicated professional. She is the only teacher my son has had at the school to approach me at day end to give me updates about my son’s progess and academic accomplishments. My son says she “actually cares about us and how we are doing.” The two teachers’ termination appears to be personal, and the process around their termination appears to have been handled in a very unprofessional manner as well. This is disturbing, especially when the school district is struggling raise academic accomplishments, why terminate two succesful teachres/ It has been made clear this is not for financial reasons.

  • Anonymous teacher

    The process of firing these young teachers is mired in the politics of the times. Ed Code says that they can be fired and no reason given within the first two years of employment. OEA tells them that their OUSD files will be stamped “Do not hire” and there is nothing OEA can do about it. The vast majority of districts in California have a question such as “have you ever received a non-reelection notice from a district for which you have previously worked?” on the employment application. The fired OUSD teachers must answer “yes” and cannot give an explanation because they have not been given a reason.

    Why does the district do it this way? Is it because administrators need to establish their street cred with other administrators across the country who are touted in the media for firing bad teachers? Is it because they need to keep slots open for the tenured teachers on special assignment who may have their jobs eliminated yet who cannot be let go becuase of the protections they receive as tenured employees? Is it because OUSD has a contract with organizations such as Oakland Teaching Fellows in which they must place a certain number of new recruits and they need to make sure those slots are available? Is is because Ed Code allows them to do this without consequence? Ot is it because these really are bad teachers?

    I am a tenured teacher and know several of the new teachers that have been non-reelected. They are devastated and the parents of their students are stunned. The process of training and retaining new teachers in OUSD is flawed from the day of hiring to the day of firing and needs to be examined by someone with the authority to do so.

  • Harold

    I really appreciate the last two comments. Everyone is focused on “bad Teachers”, when the really bad administrators in Oakland get a pass.

    If 1% of the Teachers in Oakland are “bad”, that is a problem that should be fixed. But i guarantee you, more than 1% of the administrators are incompetent.

    I have a friend who was “non-reelected” for personal reasons. That is unacceptable. He wants to teach in Oakland, but thanks to one of the former incompetent (4) Principals at the McClymonds campus, he can’t get in, or finish preliminary credential, just because he has to answer that question on applications in surrounding districts. That is criminal. A brilliant, young black man can’t teach in Oakland because Principals have the power to play “god” in Oakland with non-tenured Teachers. But, folks want to go on-an-on about a few burnt out Teachers …