OC Weekly outs sneaky SAUSD administration’s plot against instructional aides

The O.C. Register and the L.A. Times did a poor job covering the recent firing of hundreds of instructional aides by the Santa Ana Unified School District.  Now the O.C. Weekly has done a great job of recapping the issue, providing coverage of a recent protest by the laid off workers and thorough analysis of the implication of the firings.

Here are a few excerpts from the OC Weekly’s article:

“They tried to be slick,” Palacio says of district officials. “It’s insulting, from a board point of view, when staff give you deliberately one-sided information. The report doesn’t tell you how many positions were collapsed into one, the fiscal impact this will have or about the subsequent laying off of people. It doesn’t tell you that they will go from full-time to part-time salaries, that there are no health benefits and that there are less hours. It doesn’t tell you that if a person takes the job, they will lose their retirement. All of that had to be in there. How can I make an informed choice if it’s not?”

The vote on the job descriptions was pulled from the June 24 meeting after some internal protest and will be formally voted on at the July 8 meeting. The county’s largest district, with 54,000 students, faces nearly $29 million in cuts that, it says, are due to declining enrollment and the state’s fiscal crisis. The district included $29.5 million in cuts to balance its $487 million budget; the creation of the new part-time jobs passed 3-1, with Palacio as the lone dissenter.

The union representing classified employees combed through the list of job duties to discover the reshuffling of duties.

In the case of the new, part-time “school site technician” position, for example, tasks include managing student-enrollment records, monitoring class size, administering medication to kids, taking blood-sugar-level readings, preparing truancy reports and keeping attendance records—tasks currently handled by full-time school nurses, receptionists and registrars.

“My job has been renamed,” says Monica Bustamante, a data technician at Saddleback High School and 20-year district employee. Her job duties, which include managing records, transcripts and report cards, now fall under the site-technician job. “They’ve made [the description] so general it even says you have to help a sick kid,” she says. “How do they expect us to do all this in 3.75 hours? A lot of us are looking for other jobs because we need our health benefits.”

However, Palacio, Strike and other employees say they believe the number of classified employees who will lose their jobs may be higher once the final state budget is approved in July and the district revises it one more time.

The union has estimated the number could then reach into the 600 or 700 range, which would be debilitating to schools, students and teachers, says Palacio. “This is about fairness, about respecting our employees. Some people have been here for 20 years. These are the employees who are taxpayers, who are parents in the district, who live here. The way you show them respect is by giving them a good salary and good benefits.”

Be sure to read the rest of the OC Weekly’s article.  It is too bad the newspapers in town regularly avoid doing their job when it comes to coverage of the corrupt and inept SAUSD administration.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.