“Are they paying you?”
This was the outcry one of the attendees at the special school board meeting made after the board members of the Denair Unified School District voted to carry out their decision to reduce certified employees on Monday night.
Last week, an administrative law judge ruled against the proposed cuts after hearing five hours of testimonies by Denair teachers. However, the Board’s decision to make the staffing cuts remained the same, and in a unanimous decision, the layoffs were made permanent.
The judge’s ruling is not considered law, but it could weigh heavily in any future legal actions brought against the District.
In July the Board voted to cut14 full-time jobs, including seven kindergarten through eighth grade teachers, a high school physical education teacher, and two community day school teachers. The layoff notices were sent out after the May 15 deadline.
Current interim Superintendent Walt Hanline said that the ruling of the judge is not an actual representation of the fiscal insight needed, and the adoption of the governor's budget formula would mean more money for the neediest students.
“This is one man giving his point of view after hearing five hours of testimonies,” said Hanline. “We believe he got it wrong.”
Hanline warned that if the District does not comply to regulations set by the state, then it could prove to be detrimental for the District in the long run. Just recently the Stanislaus County Office of Education rejected the District’s budget proposal and tasked them with coming up with a budget that includes a 4 percent reserve.
“In some way we’re going to put a noose around ourselves if we don't understand that these regulations are going to hit us,” said Hanline. “If we put this money into regular classroom teachers we're going to have a hard time explaining to the governor and bureaucrats that we used this money to use for needy kids.”
The teachers however, disagreed. In written testimonies for almost half a dozen educators, teacher urged the board to think about their decision to make these layoffs.
Gary Cole, who serves as the president of the Denair’s Teacher Association stated he was not expecting that the Board would go against the judge’s decision.
“He did not come to the decision lightly, and he heard much more evidence than what you’ve [DUSD Board] heard,” said Cole. “The opinion of the administrative law judge was that the facts were not established to make layoffs in August. Period.”
Justin Riggs, a physical education teacher at Denair High is one of the teachers who received layoff notices earlier this year. Riggs stated that he thought his job would be saved after the ALJ’s decision. However, after receiving an email from Hanline, Riggs was notified that he would indeed be terminated, despite the fact that his name was on student schedules.
“What irritates is me that I’ve been put on the students’ schedules. That is wrong.” said Riggs.