ORANGE : Picketers Support 5 School Employees

About 20 parents and community activists picketed the headquarters of the Orange Unified School District Thursday afternoon in support of five district employees who have been told that they may lose their jobs.

The protesters marched for two hours, toting hand-lettered placards and wearing orange ribbon armbands to symbolize their effort to recall school board trustees over the personnel issue.

Last month, angry parents filed recall papers against six of the seven school board members over the trustees' Feb. 27 decision to notify three principals--Ewell Gunter of Palmyra Elementary, Eddie Salgado of La Veta Elementary and Jerry Uffelman of Richland Continuation High School--that they could be reassigned to the classroom at the end of the school year. The board has also told Supt. Norman C. Guith and Roger Duthoy, assistant superintendent for secondary education, that their contracts may not be renewed.

"I'm sickened by what's happening," George Snider, parent of an Orange High School senior, said during Thursday's protest. "With all the problems Orange Unified has, the instability and financial crisis, to get rid of veteran administrators doesn't make sense."

The board must reassign the three principals by the end of June to be in compliance with the state Education Code, said Jack Elsner, the district's administrator of human resources. If no action is taken by then, they will retain their current jobs for another year.

Duthoy must be notified by May 15 if there is to be a change in his contract. If the board takes no action, Duthoy's contract will automatically roll over for one year. If the board votes to terminate the contract, it will expire June 30, Elsner said.

Picketers said Thursday's protest was one of their final efforts to influence the trustees before the May 15 deadline.

Marvella McAllister, a La Veta Elementary parent and protest organizer, criticized board members for failing to decide the administrators' fate in a more timely fashion.

"At this point it's just cruel; cruel how they are treating human beings," she said. "At least they could let the people know where they stand."

The three principals have each served 20 years or more in the district.

Duthoy joined the district as a junior high school principal in 1977, became director of instructional services in 1981 and has held the position of assistant superintendent of secondary education since 1984.

Guith is currently serving the second year of a three-year contract that expires in June, 1993.

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