We, as parent members of the Niemes School Site Council, wish to respond to the articles concerning the Alternative Program being offered this fall at our children's school. We feel that the press coverage has not adequately reflected all aspects of this very important issue.
When this program was first presented to the ABC Unified School District board for approval, it had already been researched and developed by district personnel. Crucial to this program was that teacher selection would be by an autonomous committee. The program was approved not only by district personnel, but by John Ennis, president of the ABC Federation of Teachers. The program was presented to parents representing the Site Council, Drama Club, Dance Club and the PTA Executive Board--all enthusiastically welcomed it as long overdue at Niemes.
Objections from the union arose later, and seemed to center on the interview procedure for selecting teachers. In addition, some union members expressed concern that the district did not have the authority to transfer teachers, even if a transfer was in the best interest of the school and district.
Even though this alternative program is unique and requires specialized training, skills and personality traits, the union felt that any teacher, regardless of whether he or she is qualified, should be able to remain at the school. The district, however, knows that teachers are employees, subject to the transfer policy clearly cited in the teachers' contract. This contract explicitly provides for the involuntary transfer of teachers when there is a change in curriculum or program, or when it is deemed necessary for the good of the school and the district. In addition, every teacher deciding to leave is guaranteed a job within the district.