Newark charter school fires half of its teachers

Marion P. Thomas Charter School--out with the old.
Marion P. Thomas Charter School–out with the old.

Newark’s Marion P. Thomas charter school has terminated the jobs of  half of its teaching staff–just months after it raised salaries in a move supposedly designed to retain its best instructors.

“They said they wanted to keep their best teachers but what they really wanted to do is use the raises as a way of recruiting new teachers to replace those they are laying off,” said Maria Parelis, the president of the union representing instructional staff at the school.

Marion P. Thomas is one of the few charter schools where a union, an affiliate of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), represents teachers.

According to Edward Stevens, an NJEA representative, Marion P. Thomas administrators sent termination letters to 37 of the schools 79 teaching staff members.

That represented 20 non-tenured teachers whose contracts were not renewed and 17 pre-K teachers whose jobs were eliminated whether or not they had tenure.

“This is churning,” said Stevens. “They are getting rid of people before they achieve tenure.”

Under the state’s new tenure law, charter school teachers do not receive tenure until they work more than five years at the same school. As a consequence, many charter schools keep their staff members or five years and then let them go.

“It is not unusual for charter schools to do this,” said Stevens. “But this is an extraordinarily high number.”

Stevens said administrators approached union representatives to ask that cotract talks be reopened so that the school could raise teacher salaries.

“That was unusual,” he said, “but it certainly wasn’t something we could turn down.”

P:arelis said she believed the school was “determined to get rid of its high cost teachers–no matter what the cost to the instructional program.”

She said the school would reopen in the fall with new teachers who would have to be trained in the programs the school uses.

“Who is going to be there to help these new teachers?” she asked.

An email sent to the school from this site was not answered.

The school enrolls some 700 students, according to its website.

 

 

 

47 comments

  1. lyndon brown

    What a mess. Students need consistency in staff. They bond with teachers and staff and then they get the rug pulled out from under them when its hard to connect and trust adults.

    • Kamilla Johnson

      This is totally unacceptable. My daughter attends this school and is entering her second consecutive year in the select program. I am completely disappointed as the teacher I thought my daughter would have next year will no longer be a part of MPTCS. Parents, we need to advocate for some of these amazing educators whom we know serve our children best.

  2. Amiri Mayo

    I am one of the teachers that was let go and know many of the others who were let go as well. I have to categorically disagree with the statement “raised salaries in a move supposedly designed to retain its best instructors”. In fact, some of the educators who were let go had some of the highest student data scores in the school, which translates into effectiveness within the classroom.

    Bob Braun: That was not my statement, but that of the school, according to the union.

    • Ema E

      I interviewed for an intervention specialist recently for the academy. Did a demo, interviewed and then was sent to meet Dr. Land who was very busy during my interview. Happy now not to be working there.

    • Lowie

      Amiri, I’m so very sorry to hear that you were let go. But I’m concerned that you’ve been led to believe that student scores translate into effectiveness in the classroom. One of the unfortunate side effects of the corporate school reform movement is that today many people, including some teachers, tend to conflate student performance and teacher performance as if they were one and the same. Given all the SGP and SGO measures recently implemented here in New Jersey, who could blame newer teachers for thinking that those data actually tell us something vital? In reality, student scores tell us more about the student than they will ever tell us about the teacher.

      • Salvatore Willis

        Wow, well said I this because I have a daughter who scored very high on her parc exam and her teacher that year was absent more than she was present. I’m sorry to see anyone loose their job but in this day and time we need teachers who really love the job and not just the check.

        • Stan

          Teachers don’t teach in underpaid positions for the paycheck. They do it because it is what they feel they need to do and become. Plenty of other professional jobs pay much higher for the same 5 or 6 years of education!

    • amanda

      Student test scores tell you very little about students and even less about their teachers. The only thing test scores are correlated with is socio-economic status. A mother’s level of education predicts test scores far better than anything else.

  3. OGG

    Looks like the high school should unionize. And if it is not too late, teachers let go should request a Donaldson hearing and seek legal counsel. If a teacher did not receive proper evaluations done in the proper time frame, you will have a strong case.

  4. Ms. Hall

    We should all email Dr. Land, Dr. Thomas and Ms. Hall our concerns. Just a concern parent opinion, because I’m a talking my children out of Marion P Thomas. I really gave up NorthStar just because of the teachers now I’m stuck. Thanks allot Dr. Thomas and good luck with your select program we know that’s all you cared about anyway.

  5. Mia

    I will be at Mptcs high school in the morning to speak with someone. I need better answers and a face to face because this is some nonsense.

  6. Tiara G

    This is absurd! As a parent of a child within this school it’s discouraging to know that this many teachers are being let go! My daughter in my opinion would benefit more from building a support group of teachers who are there year to year vs new faces trying to learn it as it’s being taught! I don’t appreciate the lack of communication within the school from administration so I can only imagine what the teachers go through! I’m not so happy I removed my child to become part of this mess! I hear BLOOMFIELD School district is hiring hopefully all the staff let go finds better positions with a voice to be listenened to & not just become programmed robots training our students for tests! Good luck to u all … This sucks big time 😡

  7. Ebondeja

    I was apart of the FIRST graduating class of Marion p. In 2006… I must that after 2007 it seems as if the family mentality we had developed was destroyed especially after they expanded and when Ms.tannis left …. smh rehiring new staff every 3-5 years doesn’t benefit the children. Its like putting a child in a new Foster home every other year…. how do they grow and learn effectively …. I hope all of my teachers are safe. #MS.Harris #MS.Williams #MS.Stenvil #MS.Smiley #MsHarper 😘😍

  8. booklady

    I don’t follow Maria Parelis’s reasoning re using raises to recruit new teachers. A teacher could work for Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charters and have greater job security. Charlotte Dial retained her teaching job despite video of her harshly denigrating an early childhood learner. Why apply to a charter that didn’t re-hire 20 non-tenured teachers of the 62 who taught grades above pre-K?

  9. BXEU4J

    I have forwarded this blog post to every group I am in on FB. Why? Because there are recruits out there being lured to working at this school and unbeknownst to them will be the newest victims of the charter churn method. Teachers have families, responsibilities, and their lives and children matter, their stability matters. Help spread the word and hopefully some people will either walk in with eyes open or reacind their candidacy.

  10. Keyana walker

    I’m really upset about this…one of the teachers who is being laid off has taught my child during her 2nd and 3rd grade years….she has brought my baby along ways…before her she was struggling academically in reading and math and now shes excelling in every subject! I wish there was something I can do as a parent…some teachers pretend to care but I know ms.Glover really cares for her students. What a shame! This is terrible!

  11. Latisha (Nasiem mom)

    I just told my son since he was a former student there and he said I hope they didn’t fire Ms. Mayo , Mr. Alnutt or Ms. Boykins

    I can honestly say those three teachers
    really cared about their students….
    I’m actually glad I moved to Ocean County

  12. Kimberly

    Love Marion P Thomas Charter School and what it stood for. Praying for students, parents, staff, administration and board. Love you all always…Ms Folkes sending prayers and love all the way from Oklahoma. Several of the former students keep in contact with me even after many years and they all hold a special place in my heart. While inworked at MPTCS I made a point to live and impart to the children and give thwm the best learnjng wxperience! Wisdom and direction is my prayer along with restoration of students, parents and staff’ trust in what MPTCS stands for.#Sincerely

  13. Ebony Melendez

    My daughter has attended that school since the second grade the teachers she had were amazing she is and eight grader who is about to graduate from there and I have to say I have been very disappointed with this school since last year all they care about is themselves how is it that my child who is getting ready for high school ,mind you she will not attend the new Marion p high school every other day she had a different sub no consistence at all ,no rewards nothing ,glad to say this is her last year and imbalso taking out my other two children ,the academy staff are very unprofessional as well they hire who they want dobwhatvthey want just terrible

  14. T. McGhee

    This is their way of saving lots of money.”Out with the old and in with the new”.
    These new teachers are going to be overworked and underpaid.

  15. Mel

    This is not new for Marion P Thomas they’ve been doing this since 2000 the turnover ratio of their teachers and administration was one of the reason why I took my son’s out

  16. Donna Jackson

    Well Marion P. is and has been in Failure status, like Lady Liberty for more than 10 years.. Only because of Politics is the school still open. Unfortunately the Admin. Staff only cares about MONEY..as Mr Brown stated our children need to build healthy relationships with staff and this is a Slap in the face to the Children. .Parents been talkin about these issues for years and now maybe you’ll start asking questions and fight if you know your Child has a Good Teacher…I’m just sayin..

    • OGG

      Someone should call the State about this. And about how this year they rewrote every special ed student’s IEP to move them from resource to inclusion because they didn’t have special ed teachers. And they still didn’t have enough sped teachers so most sped students didn’t get serviced all year and some of them were failed which is illegal.

  17. Donna

    Perhaps teachers should stop applying for jobs at charters where they know they will be treated terribly, paid terribly, and fired sooner than later. Then, the charters would either close or be staffed exclusively by TFA until they close. And good riddance.

  18. Aileen

    I am a parent of two children who attend this school. Some of the teachers they let go taught my children and they are great teachers. I am appalled at this termination situation. They let go of many of the best teachers in that school. Now my children will suffer during the training of new teachers in the fall. This is not fair to the children and I believe that this action was completed with very little thought of the children. I only wish I could switch my children to North Star. I am extremely angered by this.

  19. Virginia Oxley

    I have never understood how government, parents, NJ Dept of Ed could reconcile the idea that “for-profit” concerns could run better schools than the public system, when money needs to be drained off the pay the profit looked for by the investors. Oxymoron to me. They either have to refuse taking students with problems, or fire teachers when they are close to tenure. The public is being hookwinked and tax money is being drained from the public schools who are still required to educate everybody regardless of how much it costs.

  20. Florence Swan

    Firing teachers before they reach tenure is cost effective to the charter school, Therefore, they save money by hiring new teachers at a lower pay scale thus again saving themselves money. How many times will the school be allowed to do this without penalty?

  21. John jines

    The problem is the union. The union is weak they charge union dues but when a teacher has a problem they the union reply sorry we can’t help you because your not tenured. It’s all a game you mean to tell me the union and the schools didn’t plan this

  22. Mo

    former teacher who worked there. They fired me for no reason, and made me pass failing students so they would not have to deal with the parents. I have called the state and continue to call until mptcs is exposed. I am going to start an online petition to have the school exposed. As far as the union is concerned they are worse than the school it self. All a bunch of snakes wrapped as one.

  23. Mj

    The union is the problem .
    They don’t support the teachers. The school is all about money. They don’t give a rats ass about the students. The union plays both sides of the card

  24. Pingback: News Roundup & Open Thread for Thursday, May 26, 2016 | Blue Jersey
  25. ciedie aech

    The deregulated charter school game has no interest or care for actual students. What happens to kids when teachers and other employees may now be “fired at will?” ciedieaech.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/fire-at-will

    • Abigail Shure

      Ciedie,

      That is precisely the goal of the amendment of the tenure law to relieve the State of pension liabilities.

  26. A former teacher

    God only knows what the union president went through. Their constant attacks because she organized the union in 2009 and now you’re saying she is on their side. She fought for us when everyone was quiet. If you don’t know. Don’t assume.

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