Teachers union opposes Layaye contract extension

April 27, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — In a move that apparently surprised board members, the Imperial Teachers' Association presented the board Thursday with a letter expressing a lack of confidence in Superintendent Barbara Layaye and disapproval of a proposal to extend her contract four more years.

The board then voted to extend Layaye's contract four years and increase her salary.

"Good superintendents are hard to find and retain in the Valley," said Trustee Chuck Jernigan, adding, "If you want qualified people, you have to pay them."

The letter states there is a "general atmosphere of fear and mistrust within the district," and suggests the board, "investigate these charges before making any final decision that would extend the superintendent's contract or grant her an increase in salary."

The letter, signed by ITA president Susana Sam, states, "The current superintendent does not treat employees at any level with respect and courtesy … she shouts, bullies and demeans … people avoid interaction with her because they fear retaliation."


Sam said a quorum of about 40 teachers voted "no confidence" in Layaye, with only one dissenting vote.

Sam said the issues surrounding the "no confidence" vote stem from Layaye's "negative and intimidating behavior."

Sam accused Layaye of picking on people for being late to school, writing people up and wanting negative documentation of students rather than positive.

"(She) doesn't listen to what you have to say," said Sam. "She is abrasive and demeaning in her approaches to people."

The letter mentions "reports that employees are under surveillance by the superintendent … surveillance of their homes has occurred, and their neighbors have been questioned … and asked to take surveillance pictures."

Trustees and Layaye said this is the first time they've heard of any such problems.

"This is the first time I was made aware of concerns," Layaye said, adding she welcomes the opportunity to discuss the issues with the ITA.

She added no specific concerns were mentioned in the letter or at the board meeting.

Said Jernigan: "It's the voice of a small vocal minority."

"The board is pleased and satisfied by Mrs. Layaye's performance and that was validated by the board's extending her contract," said Jernigan.

Jernigan said the accusations of Layaye's "intimidating behavior" are "false, absolutely not."

He added, "She treats parents, the community and teachers with respect."

Jernigan said he had calls from teachers this morning expressing concern over the "no confidence" vote.

He said the teachers were "outraged" and wanted him to know they had not had problems with Layaye.

Jernigan added at the school board meeting about "four or five individuals … administrators and principals, spoke in favor of her. There is no intimidation factor."

Former ITA president Kathi Peschel said when she was union president no one came to the ITA and requested help in dealing with Layaye.

"Only one teacher out of 180 teachers had a conflict relating to a teacher issue and the first time they brought it up to the ITA was (this) Wednesday after school," said Peschel.

She said the reason no one brought up issues before was because "no one came forward."

"Mrs. Layaye and I had an excellent working relationship," said Peschel. "She was very agreeable, and very workable."

Peschel said the teachers she's spoken with have "never had a problem and never felt like she was anything but nice."

Sam accused Peschel of being intimidated by Layaye and said issues were not presented to the board previously because Peschel "wants an administrative position next year. People are afraid of her (Layaye) because of the repercussions."

Denying she was intimidated by Layaye, Peschel confirmed she is working on an administrative credential, adding, "I did it for a pay raise."

Pointing out at least 10 other district staff members have administrative credentials, Peschel added, "There aren't even any openings at this time, so how can I apply?"

"I strongly agree that it is a vocal minority," said Peschel. "It's a group of people who have a personal issue, and they are spearheading it because of a classified issue, not a teachers' issue."

Jernigan said, "In my opinion, the leadership of the association is misrepresenting what the membership wants."

He added of Layaye, "We are very proud of her. She has done an excellent job."

Sam said she was "frustrated" that the board voted to extend Layaye's contract.

"We were hoping they wouldn't vote on it," she said,. "They're putting things on the agenda and are not interested in anyone's opinion."

Calling it a "slap in the face of the community," Sam said, "They put things on there (the agenda) when they've already made their decision. They don't listen to the public's input."

She added as the ITA president she plans to instigate the defeat of two board members up for reelection in November.

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