School board members have approved a service reduction resolution that may lead to 32 layoff notices for teachers and other certificated staff members. They also took up a student expulsion case that prompted a dozen parents and coaches to attend the special Tuesday night in support of a football player.
Resolution 1847, approved unanimously by the four board members present, calls for reducing some services and programs for the 2011-2012 school year. (School Board President Charlie Mensinger was delayed in travel and not present.) It clears the way for 32 layoffs in those programs.
Programs facing cuts include elementary science, junior high math, culture and community, high school math, high school English, chemistry and biological sciences. You may read the complete resolution here.
“Once I have identified the credential area, then by California Education Code I must find the least senior employee who possess that credential to determine who will actually receive a preliminary lay off notice,” Human Resource Director Timothy Erwin said in an e-mail message to Newark Patch. "By law these preliminary notices must be given to the employee no later than March 15. With retirements and resignations we will issue a total of 32 preliminary notices.”
Newark Teachers Association President Chris Baugh says his constituents disagree with the service reduction resolution.
“The Newark Teachers Association is upset over the number of certificated employees the District is looking to decrease,” Baugh said in an e-mail message. “We do not understand how, when classes are already capped at 34, the school district plans to eliminate this number of services. The district's enrollment data that they use to calculate the number of fulltime employees (FTE) has been wrong the past three years, and we question whether the data used this time is inaccurate as well.”
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, coaches and parents protested the proposed expulsion of a Newark Memorial junior who may have been connected to a shouting match over the fatal stabbing of NMHS student Justice Afoa last year.
Board members voted to approve student expulsion case no. e1011-11 with the modification that the student may continue this education through independent study at his home.
About a dozen parents and football coach Rich Swift say they disagreed with a panel’s recommendation to expel football player and Newark Memorial junior Osana Futi.
“I believe this young man deserved our ‘A’ game,” Swift said during a public comment period before board members discussed the case in a closed meeting. “I don’t believe we gave it to him.”
According to Swift, Futi was in a world of hurt over the death of his best friend, Justice Afoa, when he got into an argument with other students on campus.
On March 15, it will be three months since Afoa, , died from multiple stab wounds on a sidewalk near Cedar Boulevard and Birch Street. Futi joined football players in carrying Afoa’s casket and sharing his last memories of his friend during a Dec. 26 service. The next day, Futi helped bury Afoa.
So far, no arrests have been made in this case.
Newark Booster President Stacy Kelly asked board members to reconsider the recommendation to expel Futi.
“The information provided to the administrative panel to the Newark Unified School District is incomplete, exaggerated and contains irrelevant information that portrays Osana as a violent monster that does not deserve to be educated by NUSD,” Kelly said in a prepared statement delivered during the public comment period.
According to Kelly, records show Futi was accused of threatening another student’s life during the verbal exchange. Kelly said that Futi was responding to the other student’s alleged remarks that Afoa deserved to be killed.
Swift agreed with Kelly, saying he couldn’t imagine how he would have dealt with that situation.
“I’m 58 years old. I don’t think I could have handled that type of remark,” Swift said.
During the meeting, Board Vice President Ray Rodriguez said the independent study recommendation was for the sake of safety.
“Safety is a very strong issue, especially at the high school,” Rodriguez said during the meeting. “We want to let parents know, from the time they drop off their kids at school to when they pick them up, that their kids are safe.”
Expulsion should be the last resort for any student, said Swift.
“I’ve never had a kid expelled who was a football player,” Swift said. “I understand expelling a kid for guns or drugs. This was a screaming offense. It’s not the same.”
Swift and parents disagreed with other records in the expulsion packet that labeled Futi as an alleged gang member.
“Osana is not a gang member. I’ve known kids who were gang members in my class,” Swift said. “They were always respectful. I didn’t have a negative experience with them in my 33 years of teaching.”
Kelly said she helped Futi’s family file the paperwork to appeal his expulsion with the Alameda County Office of Education Wednesday.
To review Tuesday's meeting agenda, go here.