San Diego Unified to consider more staff layoffs

Posted at 6:01 AM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-25 22:37:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV/CNS) - The San Diego Unified School District may add nearly 200 more employees to a list of 1,500 workers who have already received layoff notices.

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At a Tuesday evening meeting, the district Board of Education is expected to discuss the possibility of 190 additional staff layoffs in an effort to balance a $124 million budget shortfall.

While layoff notices have already been sent to a large number of teachers, special education assistants and other staff, the next round of layoffs could include library technicians, mental health workers, bus drivers and other support staff.

Lisa Nielsen, whose son attends Foster Elementary and has special needs, arrived early to protest the cuts to special education assistants. 

"We're hoping that together, all of us united, could just get the district and the board to listen," Nielsen said. "There's many of us that just want to keep our children in their schools, with their teams." 

Nielsen said that change can be particularly hard for children with special needs. 

"It takes a long time for them to get into a routine and to trust their teachers and aides," she said. 

If her son has to change schools because of staffing changes, she worries he may regress in his academic progress. 

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Also at the meeting, opponents of a new district program to combat Islamophobia in San Diego schools are scheduled to protest during a public comment period.

In an email sent to reporters, Citizens for Quality Education-San Diego said they opposed the implementation of "anti-American Sharia Law policies" at local schools.

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The program is the result of direction by the board last July to address discrimination against Muslim students and their families, who trustees said are more likely to be bullied than other students.

Between July 1 and Dec. 31 last year, there were seven reported incidents of harassment based on religion in San Diego Unified schools, according to a district presentation. By comparison, there were 36 based on race and 21 on sex during the same period.

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The program includes making teachers and staff aware of when Muslim holidays occur, setting up professional staff development training on awareness of and advocating for Muslim culture, providing resources to students during Ramadan, and giving teachers history and social science materials, among other things.

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In its statement, CQE said it objected to several steps being taken under the program, including establishing a partnership with the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.