Duluth School Board begins laying off teachers

/ 16 May 2012 / jennifer

Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune, May 16, 2012 –

Six non-tenured teachers were laid off Tuesday by the Duluth School Board in a 5-1 vote.

The layoffs include four special education teachers, one English teacher and one social studies teacher.

Five more non-tenured teachers are expected to be terminated next month when a number of tenured teachers also are laid off. Those positions weren’t yet finalized Tuesday because the issue of moving from seven periods to six and eliminating some elective choices at the middle schools has yet to be approved by the Duluth Federation of Teachers and the board. It was set for a vote by the board Tuesday night but was tabled.

Union president Frank Wanner said Tuesday that a vote by union members, which is necessary because the move involves a contract change, could happen next week. The union and administration were close to a compromise, he said.

“We’re trying to make progress on this,” Wanner said. “(But) this is just another way of reducing the total number of teachers and opportunities for kids.”

Member Art Johnston opposed the measure. Member Mary Cameron was absent.

Letter to fired coach

The board also approved a letter requested by former East boys basketball coach Chuck Tolo stating the reasons for non-renewal of his contract. Tolo was fired as a coach by the board last month after it found him in violation of student privacy and Minnesota State High School League and employee ethics violations involving player Akolda Manyang, who was suspended from play for an alleged violation of MSHSL rules.

Tolo publicly criticized the way the district dealt with the allegations against Manyang, which included a panel created to make a decision about his playing status. That decision was not made before East’s state tournament quarterfinal. The letter to Tolo was classified as private data.

Johnston criticized the letter, saying there “wasn’t anything there” and “no evidence was given to the board.”

Member Mike Miernicki, a former activities director for the district, said that wasn’t true.

“I strongly disagree with what Mr. Johnston said,” he said. “I believe it’s highly inaccurate.”