Barry Wants DC Teacher Firings Probed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 100 students, parents and teachers marched in protest outside McKinley Technical High School in Northeast D.C. on Monday morning. The group remains upset over the firing of more than 200 teachers last Friday.

Now, D.C. City Councilmember Marion Barry is calling for the Inspector General’s Office to investigate. The Washington Teachers Union is planning to file a lawsuit.

The large crowd of protestors, held signs and shouted, “Education, not termination.” They were watched by police officers and school officials.

Students are particularly angry over the termination of long-time teachers and guidance counselors who they say were in the middle of helping them with college applications.

Leslie Redmond, a senior and student government treasurer says, “Where do you get those transcripts from? Where do you get someone to sign off? The counselor he has is inexperienced. He just came this year and he was actually my ninth grade Spanish teacher.”

School officials say the cuts are to help meet a $44 million budget shortfall, but many believe something else is at play.

Monica Lowe Howard is the parent of a senior student. She says, “For you to fire two counselors out of four and to leave an inexperienced counselor in place who has only been counselor for one year, that tells me this is personality, not objective.”

Monday’s march comes after an informal rally outside the school last Friday. It came after some teachers were escorted out by police. Police were called in, and some students were pepper sprayed. Two people were arrested.

The President of the Washington Teachers Union, George Parker, says a lawsuit will be filed to get the teachers’ jobs back.

“This is wrong and we’re gonna have to fight as strongly on a legal front,” said Parker. “The manner this was done allowed principals to be arbitrary and capricious.”

Students and parents took their fight to city hall. They were met by several councilmembers, including Ward 8’s Marion Barry. Barry is calling for a full investigation from the Inspector General’s Office.

In a statement released on Monday night, Barry says in part, “Our students deserve the very best at home and at school. They deserve adults with whom they can trust to tell the truth. Chancellor Rhee has simply lied to them.”

In all, 388 District workers lost their jobs, and 229 of those were D.C. public school teachers. Those teachers have been placed on administrative leave and will be paid until November.

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