Hundreds of Jeferson Parish Public School System employees who received pink slips this week are now asking: what next?
Letters recently went out to approximately 500 teachers and support staff saying their current positions were eliminated.
"We love this Parish. We love these kids. We don't want to go anywhere," said Franciene Simmons. If she had her way, Simmons would show up to class next year and teach sixth grade math and science. Instead, her job and future is now in limbo.
"This is the letter I received dated May 30. In a nutshell, it tells me that my current position will be eliminated as of July 1," said Simmons.
The educator is one of 300 Jefferson Parish Public School System teachers and 200 central office employees who were notified by e-mail on Wednesday that their positions were being eliminated as part of a "reorganization plan." Many of the teachers who received notice work at one of seven schools the JP School Board voted to close because of a projected $25 million deficit. Simmons teaches at St. Ville Academy --- one of those closed campuses.
"I think I might have cried a little bit because it was our impression that we wouldn't get a letter like this. We thought we'd have an opportunity to go with our students," said Simmons.
The JP Public School System letter says those who received pink slips can apply for open positions until June 6.
"I think it was somewhat alarming just because of the way the letters were worded. It implies that the teachers are candidates for positions which indicates to me that they're not even current employees," said Meladie Munch, president of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers. Munch says those candidates are also required to fill out a survey which is questionable.
"We got a complaint that some of the survey questions were asking about age and race," said Munch. The teacher's union says it is investigating that complaint.
Munch says she hopes current employees who want a job will have a position next year.
Eyewitness News went to the JP Public School System's website and could only see a total of six job listings that are currently posted. Our attempts to contact Acting Superintendent Dr. James Meza and JP School Board members for comment on this story were not returned in time for our 5 p.m. newscast on Thursday.