GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Some laid off teachers in Gilbert are getting their jobs back. Gilbert Public Schools (GPS) laid off 150 teachers in March, citing low student enrollment. This week, the district offered 90 of those teachers contracts to come back for the 2021-22 school year. So far, 54 of them have accepted.
“Feelings are hurt. There's animosity. Parents are angry,” said special education teacher Andrea Becker. She was laid off, but immediately went to work applying for more jobs, and got one. She’ll be in Mesa Public Schools next year. As she finishes out the current year at Desert Ridge Junior High, Becker says some of her colleagues are taking the contract offer from GPS, but others are turning it down, saying they no longer want to work in the district.
"They don't trust the district anymore and they're leaving. They feel like their friends were betrayed,” Becker said.
The reduction in force has been a sore spot for many teachers who felt the method of deciding whom to cut was done poorly. After the controversial RIFs (reduction in force), the Gilbert Education Association (GEA) went to work, hoping to undo some of the damage done to teachers.
“The Gilbert Education Association is happy with the outcome we were able to achieve for our members. The GEA Executive Board worked with members through the grievance process helping to navigate an outcome; which was getting their jobs back,” wrote GEA president Amber Franco in an emailed statement. “We achieved our goal to advocate for our members. Some teachers were happy to hear the news, some have taken other jobs and some have chosen not to come back. GEA will continue to provide support for all members as we move forward. “
“I've heard a few bouts of relief, but nobody's super thrilled,” Becker said. Many of her colleagues who are coming back are getting moved to different positions, subjects, or even schools.
“Moving someone out of a class that they're in and then replacing them with another RIF'd person is just -- I don't understand that,” she said.
GPS says the re-hires were possible because there were more resignations and retirements at the end of this school year than they expected.
“For those returning for the next school year, there is no break in service,” wrote the district’s Director of Marketing and Communications Dawn Antestenis.