Worcester teachers to protest forced displacement of staff

Education Associaton of Worcester President Len Zalauskas is asking MTA members and their supporters who live in or near Worcester to join EAW members this Thursday, May 3, at 6 pm at Worcester City Hall to protest the mass displacement of staff at Claremont Academy.

Worcester teachers will be picketing to protest the school superintendent’s decision to require all staff at Claremont Academy to reapply for their jobs with only a quarter of them guaranteed a position at the school.

“This is not the way to do business in Worcester or any other place in Massachusetts,” said Zalauskas. “This sets back labor-management relations tremendously."

The picketing will be held outside unless it is raining, in which case the protestors will move into the building.           

Students, parents and staff at the Claremont have held several protests already opposing Superintendent Melinda Boone’s insistence that staff be required to reapply for their jobs. A protest scheduled for April 26 was cancelled after some progress was made in reaching a compromise and talks were scheduled for Monday, April 30.

Zalauskas said that Monday’s talks broke down because Boone insisted that all staff must reapply and only 25 percent are guaranteed a job in the school. Zalauskas said that Boone’s pledge that teachers displaced by this action will be moved to other schools in Worcester doesn’t address the concern that teachers at the Claremont are committed to their students and to one another and believe it is bad policy to make such sweeping changes.

Boone’s decision comes just days after the release of a report commissioned by the state found there is no hard evidence that replacing half the teaching staff makes a significant difference in student achievement.

The EAW has filed a “prohibited practices” charge contending that the district has no legal authority for its actions. While districts have more discretion in making personnel decisions at underperforming (Level 4) schools, the same is not true of Level 3 schools, such as Claremont.

Zalauskas said that the superintendent’s unilateral imposition of this change is bad for morale of staff and students alike and will set back the cause of improving student achievement.          

Teachers at Claremont Academy issued a statement on Tuesday which said in part, “The faculty at Claremont Academy remains committed to supporting the academic, social and civic development of our students. As one of 22 Level 3 schools in the district we continue to work diligently to implement our school-wide focus on high standards for both ourselves and our students so that we do not fall under federal Level 4 mandates.  We have always had profound respect for the privilege of educating the students at Claremont Academy and we will not waiver from our promise to the Main South community.”