Berlin Superintendent David Erwin said he was "surprised," by the Berlin High School students who staged a sit-in to protest World Language teacher Deb Cassidy's non-renewal of her contract.
More than 100 students sat in the auditorium to show administration at Berlin High School that they were not happy about losing a popular teacher in Mrs. Cassidy. Two other teachers were also told that they would not have a job in the Berlin Public Schools System in September.
"We have to wait and see what the budget looks like but by law, we need to let a teacher know that they may not be back by May 1," Erwin said Tuesday night. "We had a physical education teacher who we had to let go last year. She worked until the end of the year in June and was able to find another job by August. We helped her with her job search. We try to let the teachers know as soon as we do that there may not be a job for them in the next school year so that they can start looking for another job as quickly as possible. "
Erwin said that when teachers are let go it doesn't usually turn into the loud protest this one did.
"Normally it's on the quiet side," Erwin said. "When a teacher has been contacted to let them know they may not be back, students may find that out. I have been in a situation where 10 teachers were laid off and parents and students came out to talk about their two favorite teachers and the others kind of get forgotten."
Erwin said the students should have chosen another route to voice their concerns.
"We want to work with the students but there are protocols and procedures to follow as students," Erwin said. "While they certainly made a point by doing what they did, it is not a protocol that they should have followed. They should have made an appointment to talk to Principal Kennedy or myself and asked to talk. If they were busy, you wait until they have time to talk about the issue. They should have gone to the office and made an appointment and if they had to wait they should have been respectful and waited to air their gripes."
Erwin also said Principal Francis Kennedy will reach out to the students to talk to them about their concerns.
The proposed Board of Education budget calls for a new Business teacher and a new Consumer Science teacher but no new World Language teachers. Erwin and the Board of Education talked about adding more World Language teachers but would not be able to do it in this budget year but in the future.