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East Cleveland City Schools lays off 10 teachers, citing decrease in enrollment

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 10:35 PM EDT
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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The East Cleveland school district laid off ten teachers and the union said they were totally blindsided by the decision.

In 2020 during the pandemic, 17 teachers were laid off, now ten more lost their jobs, and Irene Spraggins, Vice President, and Spokesperson for the East Cleveland Education Association said they were only told about the layoffs a week before the end of the school year.

“We were in a positive mood thinking that the federal money with the American relief act was going to provide that comfort for us where we would not have to lay off any staff or teachers,” Spraggins said.

East Cleveland schools will receive nearly $19,000,000 in American Rescue Plan funding through September 2024. Spraggins said the money, already approved by Congress, is specifically intended to prevent layoffs. She said school districts are required by law to consult with teachers and their unions about how to spend the money, but she told 19 News the CEO, Henry Pettigrew, has refused to discuss that with East Cleveland educators.

“We have tried to work collaboratively with the CEO,” Spraggins said. “We have asked to work collaboratively and be in on the man and how money is to be spent and how teachers could work to the best of their potential and how we can all work together for the students of East Cleveland and unfortunately, we haven’t been given a seat at the table to do that.”

Spraggins said the decision comes at a time when students need these teachers more than ever and it will mean larger class size and fewer resources for students coming back to the classroom after learning remotely since 2020.

“We’re just confused at where all the teacher layoffs are and we still have children in the schools and our children need us to be there attentively, have all the resources we can bring to East Cleveland,” Spraggins said.

East Cleveland Schools sent 19 News the following statement:

“On May 25, 2021, the East Cleveland Education Association (ECEA) voted to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the teacher’s union and administration which updated the reduction in force procedures outlined in the current master agreement. The implementation of this MOU is in direct response to continued decreasing enrollment throughout the East Cleveland City School District. As a result, several teachers across all grade levels were notified both in-person and in-writing that they would be impacted by this decrease in enrollment effective the last day of the teacher contract year.

ECEA leadership and district administration met to review the reduction and recall list per the master agreement, and teachers were notified prior to the June 1 deadline stated in the Ohio Revised Code.”

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