Union teachers held a protest on Monday morning, after receiving an e-mail on Friday, May 13th advising them to get vaccinated or face termination. The group of teachers, who already had previous exemptions granted by the school district, were abruptly taken out of their classroom for being deemed “too dangerous” to be around school-aged children and were then instructed to teach virtually for LAUSD, as accommodation for their exemption.
The teachers stated they were hoping to return to class for the 2022-2023 school year, after vaccine mandates have been slowly disappearing across the nation, and the country returns to a sense of normalcy. But an e-mail late Friday would state otherwise. The email from LAUSD board members told the teachers that due to “low student enrollment” these virtual educators would now be facing termination.
The email goes on to say that “reasonable accommodations” made to educators, “do not include permitting employees to continue working at a District facility without being fully vaccinated” and goes on to give the educators options to comply with the district’s vaccination requirement and be reinstated to in-person learning the following school year, take personal time off/leave of absence, or resign/retire from the district effective June 30th, 2022. Failure to submit an option would result in the employer potentially being separated from LAUSD.
“To not get selected next year to return to the Virtual Academy and given only one week to choose between our personal beliefs, freedom, religion and our livelihood is arbitrary, and a back-hand to the face of all educators who have done everything correctly in the Religious and Medical Accommodation process” said Mia Lawson, a Teacher for LAUSD in a released statement.
Tom Farley, a special education teacher for LAUSD said “I’ve been teaching an LAUSD for 23 years now, servicing special education students and working with their families the entire time. To be fired over a shot that may reduce my symptoms, but that does not prevent me from contracting covid or spreading covid makes no sense.”
Yvonne Rios, the organizer of the protest and longtime LAUSD educator said the board also went about the terminations the wrong way, and that there are union protocols on how to dismiss educators and it is for that reason they are planning to seek legal action against LAUSD school board. She also stated the union is “not doing much” to protect these educators notified of termination via e-mail.
Some teachers we interviewed also stated their frustration with the LAUSD Board’s decision to wait until the end of the school year, to notify them of the terminations, saying they feel it was done on purpose and maliciously.
El American reached out to UTLA Union President Cecily Myart-Cruz for comment on the potential firing of her teachers but did not respond for comment as of the time of this article.