PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — About three dozen members of the Providence Teachers Union were given “displacement notices” on Wednesday, notifying them that their jobs could no longer exist next year because of a reorganization of the school district’s central office.
“This letter is to notify you … that it [is] our intention to reorganize certain central office positions upon the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year,” reads one letter obtained by Target 12. “As part of this reorganization, I regret to inform you that your position has been identified for consolidation.”
The letter is signed by interim Superintendent Dorothy Smith, and also has R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green’s name on the letterhead. The state took over the Providence schools in November.
Providence Public School District spokesperson Laura Hart said Wednesday that the specifics of the reorganization are still to be determined, and the letters don’t necessarily mean every employee who received one will actually have their job consolidated.
She said the displacements are not layoffs, and the advance notice of a possible change gives union members the flexibility to apply for other internal positions now.
“Tenured PTU members will still be employed with the district next year, but their job titles or duties may change as part of a reorganization,” Hart said.
Wednesday was the final day to hand out displacement notices for next school year, per the school district’s contract with the union.
Hart said incoming Superintendent Harrison Peters, who starts Thursday, would assess the central office before decisions are made on changing positions. She said a reorganization plan is expected this spring.
Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro described the notices as “unexpected.”
“Many of those who received a letter are upset at the late notice, given postings go live on Friday,” Calabro said. “They have to prepare a resume, a cover letter and did not have the opportunity others had to opt-in to the EL emergency certification program. Anxiety, frustration and devastation are all adjectives that I have heard today.”
The emergency certification she references was part of an announcement last month that teachers would be able to get $3,200 reimbursement to get certified in English as a Second Language (ESL). The district has already notified 80 elementary school teachers that they might be displaced into other jobs or laid off if they choose not to sign up for the ESL certification.
The more than 35 teachers union members who received the notices Wednesday are all based in the district’s central office at 797 Westminster St., not in classrooms, Hart said.
She did not say what the job titles are of the employees who got the notices, but described them as “administrative personnel.”
Infante-Green has repeatedly mentioned reorganizing the central office as part of the state takeover of Providence schools. She hired Peters to be the state turnaround superintendent last month.