Tahoe Truckee school district: 22 teacher layoffs could happen, not probable | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee school district: 22 teacher layoffs could happen, not probable

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The State of California might penalize the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for how it communicated its plan to change English Learner policies, which could result in 22 teacher layoffs by May.

This threatens to disrupt the financial peace the district had previously forecast for the upcoming 2010-11 fiscal year.

District Superintendent Steve Jennings said the potential layoffs are the result of a uniform complaint against the district, filed recently with the California Department of Education, by local parents of English Learner students, who assert the district has not communicated or involved Hispanic parents in the design of things such as its EL Master Plan and its EL waiver process.

Jennings on Thursday said he doesn’t think it is probable the California Department of Education will deny the district funding, and thus, the layoffs are not likely. Jennings said he hopes this complaint can be resolved by working with parents. Dozens of teachers were pink-slipped at this time last year due to state and local budget shortfalls, causing a series of public meetings and public outcries.

This time around, the district could lose more than $1 million in funding because of the complaint, and Jennings said separate school EL coordinators and the district-wide EL coordinator position (filled by Nicole Sayegh) would be considered first for layoffs.

and#8220;Statutorily, the employees need to be notified that they may be laid off by March 15,and#8221; Jennings said, adding that final layoff notices would not be given until May 15 should the California Department of Education choose to deny the district the funding.

Mike Merriman, president of the Tahoe Truckee Education Association, the local teacher’s union, is urging the school district to not and#8220;scareand#8221; teachers with layoffs.

and#8220;After the layoff debacle last year, in which more than 150 pink slips were handed out, any mention of layoffs is a scary event for teachers, students, parents, and the community as a whole,and#8221; said Merriman, according to a post TTEA’s website, tahoetruckeeteachers.org.

He continued: and#8220;TTEA implores the trustees of this district to make good on their point to the public tonight to not be and#8216;scared’ by the possibility of 22 layoffs,and#8221; and to and#8220;… commit to using a portion of the now 12 percent (district) reserve as a buffer to ensure the continued quality education of our community’s children.and#8221;

Merriman could not be reached for comment for this story.

Jennings said the district has hired an outside investigator to see if there has been a communication breakdown between it and EL parents. He said the district is eager to work with parents and to increase communication.

and#8220;(Parents) complained to the state board that we were not including them in part of the process, listening to them and so forth,and#8221; Jennings said. and#8220;What were trying to do at this point is to meet with the leadership to find out how we can do better in communicating with parents of EL students.and#8221;

Nicole Sayegh, the district EL coordinator, said she has been constantly working with parents trying to find out how she and the district can fully meet their needs and allow them more influence in the decision-making process.

and#8220;We need to find a way to make all of the EL families feel they are involved in the education of their children, and we’re trying to foster that district-wide,and#8221; she said.

Jennings said if the district’s outside investigator and the state’s education department find the district has communicated to EL parents through current programs such as the District English Learner Advisory Committee and the school based ELAC programs, EL parents could still appeal the decision to the state board of education.

Jennings said CDE should notify the district by early March whether or not funding will be delayed.

According to the TTEA website, the issue will be discussed at the Wednesday, Feb. 3, TTUSD board meeting in Truckee.

As of press time Thursday, the agenda had not yet been made public.