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Sweetwater Board Votes to Lay Off 197 Teachers

Teachers requested larger venue to hear important decision

By Rory Devine and Lauren Steussy
|  Tuesday, May 8, 2012  |  Updated 6:59 AM PDT
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The Sweetwater Union High School District  voted 3-2 to let 197 teachers go. That's nearly 10 percent of the district's teaching staff. Both the meeting room and the parking lot was full with people against the decision. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

The Sweetwater Union High School District voted 3-2 to let 197 teachers go. That's nearly 10 percent of the district's teaching staff. Both the meeting room and the parking lot was full with people against the decision. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

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Sweetwater Teachers Furious with Meeting Accommodations

Teachers facing layoffs staged a demonstration outside the meeting room of a Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting. Teacher Union representative Helen Farias spoke about the frustration with the limited space at the meeting. Rory Devine also spoke to district spokesperson Manny Rubio about the reason for the accommodations.
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The Sweetwater Union High School District voted Monday night to lay off nearly 200 of its school's teachers.

Trustees voted 3-2 in favor of laying off 197 teachers who received pink slips earlier this year. Board members Arlie Ricasa, Jim Cartmill and John McCann voted yes; Board members Pearl Quiñones and Bertha Lopez voted no.

The teachers will officially be laid off May 15. If more money becomes available the district could find a position for them.

As the meeting began, 200 pink carnations were laid in front of the school board members to represent the pink slips sent to the teachers.

Tensions were high even before the meeting started as most of the teachers were not able to fit inside the meeting at the district's headquarters. Teachers asked board members to hold the meeting in a larger venue so they could all attend. However the request was not fulfilled. The teachers marched in front of district headquarters in protest.

Teachers union representative Helen Farias said she believes the board members did not want teachers in the meeting due to the serious and difficult nature of the vote.

However a spokesman for the district said that was not the case.

"We definitely checked with all the other schools and we just felt this was the best venue," said district spokesperson Manny Rubio.

"It's the end of the year and a lot of the schools are involved in testing and graduation events. So we just wanted to make sure folks knew where the meeting was going to be."

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