For two months some students at School 21 have been going without language arts and mathematics instructions, said a school teacher.
Speaking at Wednesday evening’s school board meeting, Naomi Gamorra, a teacher, said there are no 5th and 7th grade language arts teachers at the school. There are no math teachers in the 7th grade. She said the school also has a missing 4th grade science teacher.
“There’s no instruction in the 7th grade,” she said. “Those children have been there two months! 20-percent of the year!” Gamorra expressed great anger and frustration at both the school board and state-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans.
Evans said he was at the school last week with the principal. “There’s been a number of teacher who left – just left,” said Evans. He said more than normal number of teachers resigned from their posts.
Gamorra informed Evans of the vacancies in mid-September. She said the superintendent told her she would see a big difference in a week. Those weeks turned into a month, the teacher has yet to see the difference.
School 21 has the highest number of vacancies in the district, according to education officials. The district has been interviewing teachers to fill the vacancies at the 10th Avenue school, according to officials.
Gamorra said substitute teachers are manning the classrooms. She said some have been there in long term arrangements, but others have not. A school roster shows 10 vacancies. Gamorra said one vacancy was filled, but nine remain.
Those vacancies go back to the beginning of the school year raising doubts about Evans’ explanation that large number of teachers resigned. Christopher Irving, school board member, said the vacancies should have been addressed in August.
Irving said the superintendent should come clean about what went wrong. And create a plan to address the issue.
“This is an emergency and it needs to be addressed now,” added Corey Teague, school board member.
“School 21 is in a crisis. It is underfunded, understaffed, and it is a travesty of education,” said Gamorra. “Children are not being educated.”
“The money is not the problem. It’s finding teachers,” said Evans. He said the district has funded the positions, but has been having difficulty in finding teachers to fill the vacancies.
School board president Jonathan Hodges blamed the state’s underfunding of city schools that led to the layoff of more than 300 staff members at the close of the last school year. He said the district is having a tough time finding teachers to hire after it got rid of many it trained. He said the district spent considerable amount of money on training and professional development on the teachers who were let go.
“How can our students be successful if they are not being educated?” asked Gamorra, a teacher at School 21.