SDUSD delays vote regarding more staff layoffs

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday night to continue its negotiations and delay a decision regarding 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.

A decision must be made by May 11.

The item, along with several others, were be taken up at the board's meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters in Normal Heights.

The trustees also unanimously approved 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 protested 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.

Some parents say the anti-bullying program is not enough and needs to include all students.

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.

The board also received a petition signed by 700 parents and says advanced sex ed classes, that now include graphic cartoons, being taught in elementary school are inappropriate.