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BREAKING: Claremont Teachers Protest: “Let Us Keep Our Jobs”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

 

They marched, they shouted, they clapped, they cheered. And as cars passed by them, many drivers honking their horns, more than 100 teachers and students from Claremont Academy and other city schools most definitely were heard outside the administrative offices of School Superintendent Melinda Boone.

Carrying signs and letting loose their emotions, marchers at Thursday’s rally outside the Durkin Administration were decrying Boone’s recent decision – pushed forward by a School Committee vote authorizing her to do so – to tell all employees at the academically-challenged Claremont Academy they must reapply for their jobs at the end of the year. They were notified in a letter Boone delivered to them at the school on Monday. Needless to say, the news has not gone over well.

“It was presented to us in a cruel fashion,” Claremont Academy eighth-grade teacher Beth Lemieux told GoLocalWorcester as she walked in tandem with students and colleagues. “We come in every day and work really hard. Every one of us really gives our best for the kids.”

The students have been hit especially hard by the news, with teachers saying many of them have had frequents outbursts of tears since the decision was announced. Those who showed up weren’t shy about letting their feelings known.

“I think it’s unfair,” said Claremont Academy eighth-grader Arazelis Baez, who was picketing alongside her older sister, Mayte Baez, a sophomore at the school. “We should have our teachers.

Mayte Baez said the school is a tight-knit group that has weathered tough storms and deserves to stay together.

“We know this is unfair,” she said. “The teachers should stay. We’re family.”

Jody Lee, a communication facilitator who works with a hearing-impaired student at the school and is not part of the teachers union, was at the picket to show support for her colleagues and to send a message of her own.

“I’m here for my Claremont kids, the same as I’d be there for my own kids,” said Lee. “These kids regard many of us as their second family. They feel safe there and they know we love them.”

Right now, it appears at least some of the teaching staff will change, with Boone’s administration opening up the job search to other educators and requiring all Claremont employees to reapply. If they do not, they will not be laid off, according to a school department spokesperson, but could face reassignment within the school system. 

Boone was not in her office Thursday and could not be reached for comment. A school committee member said she is out of the city attending a conference.

 

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