TERRYTOWN, La. — When kids return to Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish, some familiar teachers who were there when they left for Summer won’t be there to greet them in August.
While the school is not closing, many of its teachers and administrators were told they weren't being retained.
“It was very surprising,” said fourth-grade math and science teacher Darria Sails-Donald.
Sails-Donald was looking forward to beginning her fourth year at Athlos. Now, she’s using the summer break to find a job.
“It’s very stressful, especially when you’re laid off at the last minute trying to type up a resume,” said Sails-Donald.
Sails-Donald, who taught about 55 kids last year, says she was let go two weeks ago by the principal. It was the last day of school.
“Her reason was the last day of school a student had a fight in my class so she told me she would not be able to sign my contract for next year,” said Sails-Donald.
She’s not the only certified teacher out at the K-8 charter school.
“I would say it’s a dozen or more,” said Sails-Donald.
That includes a recent teacher of the year, the dean of students, and Tinya Landry, the school’s now former assistant principal. Landry says the principal let her go three weeks ago.
“I said, ‘May I ask why,’ and she said, ‘Because I believe that you don’t believe in my abilities as a leader,’” said Landry.
With more than 20 years in education, ten of them in administration, Landy believes it’s personal. So does Sails-Donald who points to her evaluation scores showing effectiveness in the classroom.
Sails-Donald even got an email in April from the school principal stating she would have a job next school year. Thinking she had job security Sails-Donald got married and bought a new car, only to be told a month later there would be no job.
“I hope and pray that these teachers that got let go and terminated that they find the job they’re looking for,” said Sails-Donald.
Landry and Sails-Donald say the tuition-free public charter school is already struggling with academic achievements and behavioral issues are a big problem. They say they were there to help make a difference and can’t understand why they were let go.
“I’m in a job pool, looking for a job and so it’s difficult,” said Landry.
Landry not only worries about finding a job; she worries about the students.
“Those 1,000 or so kids, if they didn’t have a strong teacher, they didn’t get anything and it’s not fair to them,” said Landry. “Parents drop their kids off thinking they get quality education when we didn’t have quality leadership.”
Eyewitness News called Athlos Academy Wednesday morning and was told administrative leaders were out of state attending a conference. A spokesman for the school did share a statement.
Although we are prohibited from speaking about personnel matters, we are committed to following our policies and procedures while providing the highest level of instruction in our classrooms for Athlos students.
Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish is dedicated to ensuring high-quality teaching in every classroom and instructional support throughout the school. We are committed to recruiting and retaining only highly qualified, highly effective educators. Our scholars and their families deserve nothing less. We are relentless in our pursuit to be the premiere K-8 public educational institution in the state. This vision is obtainable with first-class, high-achieving faculty and staff.
We understand that change can be difficult. We will do our best to support all Athlos team members and families. We cannot address questions about employees. We are committed to following established policies and procedures with regard to employees.
We look forward to seeing you at our first summer event on June 30 to share with you all of our great activities and future improvements for next year.