Union officials respond to layoff notices in Providence schools

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Union officials are furious over the city of Providence's decision to issue layoff notices to all of its nearly 2,000 teachers. They're considering legal action to block the move.

By state law, Rhode Island school departments must inform teachers of possible layoffs for the following academic year by March 1. The city of Providence has, in the past, issued as many as 500 layoff notices but nothing compared to what they plan to do this year: send layoff notices to all 1,962 instructors.

Providence schools superintendent Tom Brady says the move gives the city as many options as it needs to close a nearly $40 million deficit. But Frank Flynn, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, calls the move "irrational."

"It's just unprecedented in Rhode Island to terminate an entire staff with no justification," he says. "The reality is that they are going to be 20,000 or so students in Providence next year, and they're going to need teachers."

Flynn says his union believes the city has violated its contract with the teachers and possibly state law. The union is considering legal action.

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