By Ashley Mackin | SDUN Editor
Parents, teachers, counselors and students rallied together on Tuesday, May 22, to protest a scheduled San Diego Unified School District Board of Education vote. The 4-1 vote finalized over 1,500 of the 1,600 layoff notices. The Board of Education office at 4100 Normal St. in University Heights was the site of the protest.
After issuing tentative notices in March to approximately 1,600 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians, the Board of Education acknowledged between 400 and 500 of them were not required.
Lindsay Burningham, secretary and vice president-elect for the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) union, said the protesters were there to make sure the over-issued notices were rescinded. “We are here to ask the board to rescind the [400-500] layoffs, which is what they’ve admitted [were] over noticed,” she said.
Regarding the excess layoff notices, Burningham said the school board acknowledged them at meetings with the SDEA. “They have admitted through our layoff hearings and through our conversations with the board that they have over-noticed 400 to 500 people,” she said. “So we’re hoping to see that at least those notices are rescinded or recalled. Of course we want all of them to be rescinded but as of right now, that’s the number that they’ve [admitted was unnecessary].”
The SDEA represents the nurses, counselors and teachers within the San Diego Unified School District. Their goal, Burningham said, is “to protect their contracts, their rights as educators and hopefully, try to keep their jobs intact.”
One of those counselors, who received a tentative layoff notice in March, is Mary Turnberg. A counselor at Junipero Serra High School, Turnberg said her responsibilities include college readiness, crisis and grief counseling, meeting with parents, disciplinary assistance, supervision and following up on slipping grades, among others.
Turnberg also said the current caseload for counselors at many San Diego schools is already 400 students to one counselor. “Next year, if the layoffs go through, they’ll have 800 students to each counselor,” she said. “The people left behind won’t be able to do that [much] work … and what hurts is the that kids who need people to help them won’t have anybody helping them.”
With protesters chanting in front of the board offices before a regularly scheduled board meeting, several cars drove by, honking their horns in support.
“We’re very happy to see that support from the public. We’re hoping the public has spoken to their board members, and those board members are going to echo that support,” Burningham said.
“We have been trying to get our community members, parents, teachers [and] everybody within our school communities, [to] speak to their board members and hold their board members responsible for the decisions they are making,” she said.
Burningham also said that although the layoff vote was taken at the May 22 meeting, community members could call and email board members at any time to voice their thoughts and make suggestions.
Regardless of the vote result, Burningham said the SDEA would continue to fight for job preservation and fewer layoffs in future school years, and would be active over the next few months. “We want the community and the public to put pressure on the board throughout the coming months, as we’re working on this through the summer,” she said.