Mailing of layoff notices angers some

March 14, 2003 12:00 am

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

As pink slips began arriving in the mail yesterday for certificated employees of the Del Norte County Unified School District, teachers reacted with dismay over the method.

"There are some unhappy and disappointed people out there right now. They don't like the way things were handled," said Ryan Bouchard, president of the Del Norte Teachers Association. "When these notices arrived at the post office, those people knew what they were and where they were going."

Bouchard told the School Board at last night's meeting that 12 teachers he knew of that received the notices were perplexed they were not notified in person and wanted to know why the notices were not handled more discreetly.

"We did talk among staff about sending out letters versus hand delivering them," said Assistant Superintendent Rodney Jahn. "We thought about how people would feel getting a notice in the hallway or in the classroom. It was felt this would not be very professional or confidential."

Assistant Superintendent Doug Stark agreed, adding that he had received notices in the past by hand during school hours and it was difficult to continue working afterward.

"Where there may have been an implication that people were afraid to go out and deliver layoff notices, nothing could be further from the truth. We did it out of a sense of being sensitive to people so they can get on with their jobs," Stark said.

Boardmember Steve Parke said the decision to send the notices by mail was arrived at after speaking to the district's attorney.

"It was made for the right intentions," Parke said. "If it didn't turn out the right way, you have our sincere apologies to everyone concerned ... it was felt they would be better served if they got it in the mail."

Approximately 66 pink slips are due to arrive at homes by Saturday as the district grapples with a budget shortfall between $2 million and $4.2 million during the next two years.