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Compromise Will Keep Band Director, 73, in O.C.

June 21, 2004|Kevin Pang | Times Staff Writer

After a boisterous three-month campaign by parents, the Los Alamitos Unified School District has agreed to keep longtime band director Chuck Wackerman.

Wackerman, 73, has taught middle school and high school jazz bands in the Los Alamitos area since 1957. When district officials told him in March that they would not renew his contract, parents rallied to his defense, attending school board meetings in droves. They argued that a man with nearly half a century of teaching experience should teach as long as he wants.

This month, the district and Wackerman reached a compromise: He will continue heading the combined jazz band at Oak and McAuliffe middle schools but step down as director at Los Alamitos High School, a post he has held for 20 years.

Wackerman said he was satisfied with the deal.

"[The school district] said for a while it might be a possibility, but that wasn't even definite," he said. "So when I heard ... I was really excited and pleased."

District officials contend rehiring Wackerman was never out of the question.

"We never ruled out Mr. Wackerman teaching for us," Assistant Supt. David Hatton said. "But it all worked out in the end. I think he's happy."

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