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POWAY: PUSD to send layoff notices, appeal 'God banner' decision
By GARY WARTH
March 8, 2010
Trustees in the Poway Unified School District on Monday agreed to send layoff notices to 129 employees in anticipation of budget reductions and to appeal a recent court ruling that said the district violated a teacher's constitutional rights.
Associate Superintendent Bill Chiment said the layoff notices were a "sad but necessary strategy" to offset a projected $24 million shortfall in the district's 2010-11 budget...
Unlike the last board meeting two weeks ago, when more than 300 teachers appeared at the board meeting to protest cuts, no teachers spoke against the action Monday night.
[Maura Larkins comment: Teachers seem to think that legal issues are over their heads, and perhaps they are. Why don't teachers draw a connection between budget cuts and the huge sums spent on legal expenses, particularly liability insurance? If teachers and other citizens were more vigilant concerning the huge amounts schools pay for legal expenses and liability insurance, as well as other shenanigans of school and state officials, the budget cuts might not be necessary. Liability insurance rates are astronomical because schools have made so many bad decisions. Bad government almost always ends up costing taxpayers money.]
In closed session before the meeting, trustees also agreed to appeal federal Judge Roger Benitez's Feb. 25 ruling that the district violated the rights of Westview High School math teacher Bradley Johnson, who was ordered to remove classroom banners that contained the word "God."
Chiment said the district's appeal is not specifically to keep Johnson from hanging his banners, but rather to clarify the district's right to control what can be displayed in school classrooms.
In responding to the lawsuit last week, Chiment said the district was concerned about future lawsuits challenging its right to control classroom displays.
Also at stake, Johnson's attorney, Robert Muise of the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, has said he will file a motion asking the district to pay about $250,000 in attorney fees. A reversal of the decision would relieve the district of the fees.
Johnson had displayed two banners that contained historical and patriotic references. One read "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," "God Bless America" and "God Shed His Grace on Thee." A second banner contained a passage from the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator."
Also on Monday, Poway resident Scotty Blackman told the board he was launching an initiative to reduce the salaries of all state employees, including teachers, by 35 percent to 45 percent to make them comparable with the private sector...
[Maura Larkins comment: We need to pay the best teachers MUCH more to attract highly capable individuals. Scotty Blackman's idea sounds penny wise, but it's definitely pound foolish. Next thing we know Scotty will be saying we can save even more money by closing schools altogether.]