October 21, 2014

Elyria
Showers
47°F
test

Hundreds protest firings

More than 500 show up outside school board meeting

LORAIN — More than 500 people filled the lawn outside a Lorain elementary school Monday — all wanting to ask questions they say haven’t been answered by school officials in the wake of massive cuts to the district.
Their questions seemed simple enough: Will my children still have programs to enjoy? Is my son’s favorite teacher being fired? What is your plan to make everything all right again?
But the frustrated parents, teachers and residents who filled the lawn outside Frank Jacinto Elementary on Monday, about an hour before the Lorain school board meeting would take place inside, said they knew their questions would fall on deaf ears.
None of the school board members came outside to talk with them during the rally.
“No one’s giving a plan for what’s happening with the teachers,” said Keri Sugerik, who arrived with her 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, both of whom attend Lorain Schools. “They keep saying they’re looking toward the future, but I haven’t seen the plan.”
Many in the group held up signs calling the school board’s actions criminal, and others asked for the school board members to resign. Several volunteers set up tables where people were asked to sign petitions asking a county judge to remove the board members from office.
One of the volunteers, Kyle Herndon Gaskell, said she expected to have a total of 900 signatures for each of the five board members by the end of the board meeting. The group needs 2,306 signatures to have a judge consider each member’s dismissal.
The rally, staged by parents and teachers, was intended to show how dissatisfied Lorain residents were with the school board, said Beverly Block, who was one of the 246 teachers who were given a notice that they will be losing their jobs as a result of financial difficulties the school system is facing.
The district axed the teachers after the district’s new treasurer discovered that earlier financial predictions were in error and that the district would be in the $4.75 million in the red by June 30 without the cuts.
“There aren’t just fired teachers here — the whole community and all the teachers are coming out and supporting this,” Block said.
A few parents unrolled a long sheet of black paper stretching more than 24 feet that contained 4,000 signatures from people asking that the teachers be returned to their positions. The project was presented to the board members at a meeting last month.
Lorain police were on hand in case the crowd got too rowdy, and cars driving down Marshall Avenue were forced to find another route as people began pouring into the street.
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.

071707protest.jpg Carl sullenberger / chronicle
A banner with thousands of signatures from students supporting their fired teachers at Frank Jacinto Elementary in Lorain on Monday.
Video coverage
See footage of the protestors outside the school board meeting