Dozens of NSD teachers attend board meeting to oppose ‘forced transfers’

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More than 50 teachers and parents from the Newhall School District’s teachers association attended the school district’s board meeting Tuesday night in order to voice opposition to involuntary transfers for teachers.

The teachers learned of the district’s plan to rotate teachers to new schools and grades through communications from Superintendent Jeff Pelzel’s office, who wrote, in an email to district staff, that the involuntary transfers were being done to maximize student learning.

“While change is never easy, we hope this helps you understand the considerations for how and why these moves were made,” Pelzel stated in an email last Wednesday. “I am confident that all of the dedicated and caring teachers across this district will welcome your new colleagues into your ‘teacher family’ with open arms in the weeks ahead.”

Opponents of the move said Tuesday they were “blindsided” by the district’s decision, which, they say, affected them in a number of ways and is detrimental for students, as well. Speakers cited a handful of studies reporting that teachers who have to teach in a new environment, whether that’s at a new school, new grade or new class structure, are impacted by the moves.

“You’re creating less-effective teachers,” said Lindsey Novak, an Oak Hills Elementary second-grade teacher who’s been re-assigned to third grade next year. “Regardless if you’re moving them across the district or within the site to a new grade level. A teacher has to re-establish themselves in a new environment, even if it is at the same school. You’re trying to become familiar with a new grade level.”

Among the concerns mentioned by teachers included the financial loss they would incur because of the involuntary transfer, the effect it would have on English language-learning students and how the move had created a “culture of fear” among the staff and faculty.

“We’re a family in this district, especially at our schools,” said Michelle Morse, a parent at Stevenson Ranch Elementary School. “So, when you start causing turmoil, what does that do? The numbers are going down, the research says, ‘Do not do it,’ and (the superintendent’s office) is blatantly going to do it.”

Following the testimonies and speeches from both teachers and parents alike, NSD Board President Sue Solomon told those in attendance that they had been heard.

“We do value your input,” Solomon said.

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