PLACENTIA : Teachers Face Layoff as District Recruits

Teachers union members this week condemned Placentia Unified School District officials for interviewing graduating education students at Cal State Fullerton as the district prepares to lay off 158 teachers and administrators.

"With all the teachers being laid off, it really doesn't help morale much," Cindy Lee, president of the Assn. of Placentia-Linda Educators, told the school board at a meeting Tuesday.

Although one school board trustee apologized for the recruiting efforts, district officials said they interviewed the applicants to keep the district's name out in the job market.

"We told candidates very specifically that we had no openings, that we were laying people off," Supt. James O. Fleming said.

Fleming added that the district must continue to search for teachers in specialized areas, particularly special education and bilingual instruction, where there is often competition between districts for qualified educators.

"Occasionally there are candidates in unique areas, areas where we're not laying people off," Fleming said.

Still, trustee Barbara Williams said that she was "appalled" when she heard of the recruitment and apologized to teachers affected by the layoffs.

"I feel it was inappropriate," she said at the meeting Tuesday, "It was insensitive to our employees and it was hypocritical."

Final layoff notices to eliminate 132.3 full-time positions were sent out this week. Of those, 115.8 were teaching positions and 16.5 were managerial posts.

School officials say the Placentia district was among the most popular with students in Cal State Fullerton's Division of Teacher Education and some applicants had signed up months in advance to be interviewed.

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