SDUSD mulls more layoffs, border wall business ties & Islamophobia

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SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday is scheduled to consider adding 190 employees to a list of 1,500 who have received layoff notices.

The proposal comes as district officials grapple with balancing a $124 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

Those newly on the chopping block include more than 40 library technicians, mental health workers and bus drivers, along with other support staff. Notices have already been served on teachers, tech support staff, and special education assistants, among others.

The district has also proposed cutting the work year by between 11 and 14 days for classified and administrative employees, depending on their current schedules.

The items are scheduled to be taken up at the board's meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters in Normal Heights.

The trustees will also consider a resolution in support of state legislation that would prohibit California from doing business with contractors who help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

SB 30, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would prevent the state from awarding or renewing a public contract with any person who provides goods or services to the federal government for construction of a wall, fence or barrier along the border.

According to the school district, endorsing the legislation would send the message that the "Board of Education believes a proposed border wall between California and Mexico would do serious economic, social and environmental harm to its students and the larger San Diego community."

Also at the meeting, opponents of a new district program to combat Islamophobia in San Diego schools are scheduled to protest during a public comment period.

In an email sent to reporters, Citizens for Quality Education-San Diego said they opposed the implementation of "anti-American Sharia Law policies" at local schools.

The program is the result of direction by the board last July to address discrimination against Muslim students and their families, who trustees said are more likely to be bullied than other students.

Between July 1 and Dec. 31 last year, there were seven reported incidents of harassment based on religion in San Diego Unified schools, according to a district presentation. By comparison, there were 36 based on race and 21 on sex during the same period.

The program includes making teachers and staff aware of when Muslim holidays occur, setting up professional staff development training on awareness of and advocating for Muslim culture, providing resources to students during Ramadan, and giving teachers history and social science materials, among other things.

In its statement, CQE said it objected to several steps being taken under the program, including establishing a partnership with the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.