Parents Protest Transfer of Popular Don Benito Fundamental Teacher

District cites lowered enrollment, resulting lowered State revenue, prompted the reassignment

Published : Friday, May 24, 2019 | 5:02 AM

[Updated | May 24, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.]  Parents of Don Benito Fundamental School students packed the Pasadena Unified School District USD board room Thursday to protest faculty changes at the school, which could see the transfer of a popular first grade teacher.

As the lower Pasadena Unified enrollments translate into lower State revenue for the school district, parents learned last week that teacher Jaqueline Gonzalez will be transferred out of the school and into another campus.

Don Benito parent April Rios, one of many who commented on the issue, told the Board, “I am here because I am concerned about the future of Don Benito.”

Rios noted the success of her son under Gonzalez’s tutelage, and said, “I am worried that we are losing quality teachers. What is my daughter going to do when she begins the first grade? What are we going to do as parents? I don’t want to have to make a hard decision about Don Benito.”

Another parent called the decision “nonsensical,” saying that the transition between kindergarten and first grade is “pivotal,” and that kindergarten students begin to take on a “learning role” once they enter first grade.

More than a dozen parents eventually echoed Rios’ comments, but District officials maintain that the transfer of Gonzalez, who was present at the meeting, is simply following State seniority rules for teachers.

“We agree she is a fabulous teacher,” said Board Member Scott Phelps, adding, “We have to follow seniority rules when we adjust staffing at schools to match enrollment. That’s the law in California.”

“She was my student at Muir, so I have a special fondness for her and her great abilities,” Phelps noted.

Phelps told Pasadena Now that a lawsuit aimed to remove the seniority law made it to the California Supreme Court a few years ago, but failed to prevail.

Phelps also provided a Pasadena Unified handout which noted that the combination of lost revenue and increased employee costs have resulted in a $5.1 million District budget shortfall.

Pasadena Unified Chief Human Resources Officer Steven R. Miller said that District attendance projections show that enrollment is expected to drop, which requires the reduction of one teacher at Don Benito.

As Miller explained, “The teacher has the ability to select a teaching vacancy within the District.”

blog comments powered by Disqus