San Diego Unified School District

SDUSD Teachers: Reassignments Feel Unfair for Staff and Unstable for Students

NBC 7 spoke with a teacher who said she is being forced to leave San Diego High School, where she has spent two decades instructing

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The practice of moving a teacher from one school to another is called excessing and it's not uncommon. But some San Diego teachers told NBC7 it's taking teachers away from the communities they've built within the San Diego Unified School District and says it negatively affects the students.

Jennifer Harden has been a social studies teacher for more than 20 years at San Diego High School, and she has just been told she has to leave.

The district told NBC 7 it hasn’t sent out any official notices as of yet and they decide staffing based on each campus’ needs that include student enrollment, course offerings relative to student interest, etc.

"It takes a long time to develop that relationship. To develop that trust. Especially for them. Especially now post-pandemic kids because those connections didn’t grow," Harden said.

A title one school, many of her students are from lower-income households, are homeless, or are part of vulnerable communities.

Harden said she was informed that she is being excessed from high school. She still receives her salary and health insurance but moves to another school eventually wherever a position with her needed credentials is available. District spokesperson Maureen Magee clarified that official notice is something they will take up in April.

"It isn’t the school's fault. It’s the district policy code. Whatever it is," said Harden.

The teacher reassignment process isn’t new.

San Diego High School teacher Rahel Gottlieb said it’s common with newer teachers. She thinks lower enrollment and opening new schools are factors contributing to the number of teachers that will be moved around. Also, the student enrollment prediction formula can produce what turns out to be far-from-accurate results.

"What upsets me the most is that we are treated like pegs on a gameboard. We are not treated as human beings," said Gottlieb.

But Harden believes it’s unwarranted.

"There are teachers that have less experience than I do, but different credentials who get to stay," said Harden.

Harden listed things like dual credentials, experience coaching and advanced subject classes are priorities for the teacher positions.

“This is the environment we are trying to do our jobs in and we are trying to do what’s right for our students, for their futures. And honestly, it often feels like kids don’t matter to the district. Their environment doesn’t matter, and who teaches them doesn’t matter. We're all just easily replaceable,” said Gottlieb.

Gottlieb said often times when a teacher is excessed, the long and unstable waiting period for their new teaching assignment pushes them to either leave the area, switch districts or leave the career altogether.

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