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Providence School Board Fires All Teachers

The school board of Providence, R.I., voted on Thursday, February 24 to send pink slips to all of its teachers in order to provide the city with maximum flexibility in making budget decisions.

"State law requires school departments to notify teachers by March 1 if they'll be laid off the following school year," The Los Angeles Times reports. "Providence teachers received notices of potential layoffs before the board met Thursday night and voted 4-3 on sending termination letters. The notices don't mean the teachers will lose their jobs, but the vote means some of them could at the end of the year."

"[Providence Mayor Angel] Tavares insisted that he values Providence's 'gifted teachers' and only felt compelled to act given a March 1 deadline to notify municipal employees about 'potential changes to their employment status,'" CNN reports. "But Steve Smith, president of the city's teacher's union, said he believed the decision 'makes no sense at all to teachers or the community.' He accused Tavares of 'making a political decision to take control and silence workers'--a group that, he said, has consistently and continually worked with city leaders to implement reforms."

"More than 700 teachers jammed a high school gymnasium to tell school officials that their hearts were broken, their trust violated and their futures as teachers jeopardized," writes The Providence Journal's Linda Borg. "'How do we feel? Disrespected,' said Julie Latessa, a special-needs teacher, before the vote. 'We are broken. How do you repair the damage you have done today?'"

Voting for the motion were board members Melissa Malone, Nina Pande, Kathleen Crain and Julian Dash. Robert Wise, Brian Lalli and Philip Gould voted against the motion.

"Teachers who attended a meeting with [Superintendent Tom] Brady on Thursday afternoon left as dismayed and confused as they were when they entered the building,' Borg writes. "Many said they still didn't understand why they were being dismissed. 'Everyone is anxious,' said Eileen Finklestein, an elementary school teacher."