Three music teachers, none with experience teaching high school choral music, have been hired to replace choral directors at Grant, Cleveland and Wilson high schools.
The teachers’ names haven’t been released. the three had more seniority in the district than the teachers they replaces, said district spokesman Matt Shelby.
Facing budget cuts, Portland Public Schools earlier this month laid off Katy Wagner-West , choral director at Grant High School. She had taught two years at Grant, which has an 84-year tradition of choral music, and is one of the city’s shining examples of a program that offers leadership, community and the profound experience of learning about oneself in the world. District policy allows a teacher with more siniority to bump a less-experienced one. Wagner-West’s supporters are rallying to save her job. She writes:
“Many of you have heard of the drastic cuts in music education throughout PPS over the last 2 weeks. Due to these cuts at the elementary and middle school levels, this has resulted in Human Resources “bumping” me from Grant due to my 2 years seniority in PPS (although I had 4 previous years in Beaverton). As of this morning, Human Resources has involuntarily placed a K-5 music teacher with no choral teaching experience in the Grant Vocal Music Teacher position.
The other high school choir positions have also been placed with other teachers from throughout the district – all of them being elementary teachers, many with no choir experience… “The District may elect to retain a less senior member based upon a determination that the less senior member has greater competence. Competence shall be defined as the ability to teach an “area of endorsement” or grade level based on recent teaching experience related to that “area of endorsement” or grade level within the last five years, but not based solely on being licensed to teach. Grade level shall mean the grade levels PK-8, or 6-12.