A judge recommended sparing six of the more than 900 San Diego Unified educators warned of layoffs in March. Administrative law Judge Stephen Hjelt reviewed the layoffs and concluded that the district properly notified the large majority of teachers and did not cut teachers arbitrarily, as the teachers union argued.

Hjelt’s recommendation doesn’t specify why the six employees should not be dismissed. I left a message with the regional Office of Administrative Hearings to clarify what set the six educators apart.

But it does include an interesting commentary on a recent article in the Union-Tribune, which drew attention to the overhaul layoffs could bring about at schools such as Jackson Elementary, where 24 out of 26 teachers could be dismissed. The school has won awards thanks to its “young and enthusiastic faculty,” Hjelt wrote. He continued:

Nevertheless, as a result of the actions of the District, 24 of the 26 teachers at the school are due to be laid off. Any reasonable person reading this article might wonder, are these folks daft?

The answer is “No.” No one in this picture is daft, not the District, not the teachers, not their union. The problems that result in this craziness are structural and systemic and reflect how education is truly prioritized by those charged with enacting and carrying out our laws.

San Diego Unified’s school board plans to finalize its teacher layoffs tomorrow, guided by Hjelt’s recommendation.

Update: The six educators’ names were taken off the list by San Diego Unified prior to the judge’s recommendation because the teachers union provided evidence that the educators had been hired earlier than the dates listed in district records, district spokesman Jack Brandais explained. The judge therefore listed them as exceptions to his overall finding that the layoffs were carried out properly.

EMILY ALPERT

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