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Statement: “How many pink slips, how many layoffs have actually been executed in the last five years? Zero. Not one was really needed,” San Diego Unified school board member Kevin Beiser said March 10.

Determination: Barely True

Analysis: In California, school districts have to warn teachers who might be laid off that their jobs are at stake by March 15. The warnings are commonly called “pink slips.”

The decisions are made based on financial projections. But school districts often end up actually laying off far fewer teachers than are warned when the budget is finalized each June. It’s a process that can be taxing on schools, teachers and parents.

As the San Diego Unified school board weighed whether to send out pink slips to teachers this year, board member Kevin Beiser pointed out that teacher pink slips and the actual layoffs that can follow have proven to be unnecessary in the past.

Before this year, San Diego Unified sent out the layoff warnings to teachers twice in five years. (It warned more than 1,300 educators and finalized more than 750 layoffs for teachers, counselors and other educators this year.)

In 2010, it warned more than 100 teachers that they could be laid off. None were. In 2008, it warned more than 1,000 teachers that they could lose their jobs. It ultimately terminated roughly 200, though all of them were eventually asked to return.

First, it asked all but nine of them to come back by the beginning of the school year. Many had already taken jobs elsewhere or just didn’t respond to the call. The other nine teachers were asked to return sometime before December of that school year, Deputy Superintendent Phil Stover said.

Beiser says he based his statement on different information he’d gotten about when teachers were rehired, but because it was given to him in closed session on the school board, he couldn’t share it with us.

Beiser is making a larger point — that the teacher layoffs ended up not being needed. While the school district did finalize those layoffs for teachers in 2008, all of the roughly 200 teachers who were laid off were offered a chance to come back to the school district by the middle of the year.

The school district ended up not losing any teaching positions from the layoffs, aside from the few months between the start of the school year and December. Beiser argues that executing a layoff means that the job for that person is ultimately eliminated.

Still, roughly 200 people were told they didn’t have a job anymore, and some didn’t come back even when offered the opportunity later. To them, it certainly was a layoff and likely a major disruption in their life.

Beiser says that’s not what he meant. He drove home the point with the following sentence in that quote: “Not one was really needed.” Whether he meant it that way or not, Beiser’s statement gives the impression that no layoffs were finalized at all.

His larger point, that the layoff warnings didn’t end up being necessary, bears out. His wording, though, belies the fact that people were indeed laid off. For that, we give him a Barely True.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

You can also e-mail new Fact Check suggestions to factcheck@voiceofsandiego.org. What claim should we explore next?

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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