Rhode Island District Threatens to Fire All 74 of High School's Teachers

All of the teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island may get fired.

ByABC News
February 17, 2010, 3:27 PM

Feb. 18, 2010 — -- One of the poorest performing high schools in Rhode Island is planning to fire all of its teachers after they refused to adapt to longer school days and tutoring to help the struggling students.

Central Falls High School Superintendent Frances Gallo announced late last week that she would have no choice but to fire all 74 of the school's teachers after the Central Falls Teachers' Union refused to accept her improvement plan for the school.

In an interview with the Providence Journal, Gallo blamed the union's "callous disregard" of the situation for the firings, adding that the teachers "knew full well what would happen" if they didn't agree to her proposal.

The plan was spurred by the Education Commissioner Deborah Gist's mandate last month for the high school, as well six other schools in the state, to revamp their institutions.

Central Falls High School has just over 800 students and fewer than 50 percent of them graduate in four years, according to state statistics.

A state survey of the school's demographic identified that 96 percent of students are eligible for free or reduce lunch and that 65 percent of the student body is of Hispanic origin, 13 percent is white and 14 percent is black. Twenty-five percent of students receive English as a Second Language services.

Gallo had a choice of four federally guided models to propose for Central Falls High School, and her first choice, and the one the teachers rejected, was the "transformation plan," which included changes such as lengthening the school day by 25 minutes as well as required training for faculty members during the summer.

The plan also asked teachers to eat lunch with students once a week and to submit to more rigorous evaluations.

When the teachers said no to the plan, upset that they would not be getting paid for working longer hours, Gallo said she had no choice but to shift from her "improvement" plan to the "turnaround" model.

"My reaction was shaken to the core," Gallo told ABC News' Providence affiliate ABC6, when the union's decision was made public.

"This is much more than I would have expected that any union would play with the lives of 50 percent of their population," she said.