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Pink slip deadline Monday

Some districts may notify more teachers than necessary, a move some critics decry.

March 10, 2010|By Max Zimbert

Burbank and Glendale unified school districts are on track to meet the first of several turning points in the teacher layoff process, one week after officials approved eliminating 197 teaching positions.

California education code mandates that public schools notify employees of potential job loss by Monday. By May 15, districts must have informed the employees who will be affected.

“The March 15 and May 15 deadlines are really there to protect teachers so they can go out and get jobs,” said Katherine Strunk, an assistant professor of education and policy at the USC Rossier School of Education. “They are great for that, but they are upsetting because teachers who won’t get pink slips in the long run still have to be notified they could.”

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The number of layoff notices — which is not the same as the number of layoffs — also hinges on the state budget and negotiations with employee groups. Those two variables, combined with the deadlines, can sow confusion and dejection among employees who could lose their jobs.

“People who are good classroom teachers tend to be sensitive people,” Glendale Unified Supt. Michael Escalante said. His district will be sending out 112 pink slips to teachers. “This disrupts their ability to do the job.”

But the relatively large number of notices is necessary, officials said.

“You have to have the flexibility for a number of options that might come up,” said Kevin Jolly, superintendent of Burbank Unified School District, which moved to send roughly 85 layoff notifications. “You only want to do what is necessary under the circumstances.”

Some school districts notify many more employees than what’s necessary, which critics decry as a calculated move to blunt political fallout from imminent layoffs.

Such action is bad policy and often ends up working the other way, Strunk said.

“The incentive to lay off teachers isn’t there,” she said. “Really savvy districts basically don’t lay off teachers and don’t give out pink slips because they want to attract teachers from other districts who could be laid off.”

Education code requires districts that lay off teachers to establish a rehire list of those employees.

Districts cannot hire outside teachers until the rehire list has been exhausted, except in scenarios where there’s a need that cannot be met otherwise, officials said.

As May 15 draws closer, school districts will enter administrative hearings, where their lists are reviewed for accuracy, and so they do not stray from seniority and credentialing.

“What they are is to make certain the district is not playing favoritism,” said Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn.

The hearing officers review cases where an individual teacher should be spared, Escalante said.

“They don’t try to say, don’t lay off whatever the number the district’s trying to come to,” he said.

“They just try to justify why any one teacher should be skipped over.”


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