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Mammoth Unified School District’s longtime, popular drama teacher was recently given one of the district’s dreaded “pink slips,” which notify employees that they might not have a job next year.
Although the reasons the district gave for its actions regarding Worden remain cloaked in secrecy due to confidentiality issues, Worden has been public about at least one reason he believes he might have gotten the pink slip. It happened when he gave a student a fake gun prop to take home and clean, he told some of his former students, who are flooding the district with letters in support of Worden.
The student was subsequently seen in possession of the gun at the school and Worden was given notice by the district that he was on thin ice. Shortly after, he was given the pink slip notice.
Superintendent Rich Boccia made it clear the drama program itself was not being eliminated.
“Fine Arts are not being eliminated next year and, as a matter of fact, is one element of the A-G High School Graduation requirements,” Boccia said, when asked if Worden’s pink slip was possibly related to budget cuts as opposed to personnel issues.
Boccia is aware of the strong affection and support Worden has in the community and from his past and present student (see the letters to the editor this week in the Mammoth Times) but he said he simply could not comment on the issue any further.
“My legal counsel continues to remind me that we, MUSD, are not at liberty to speak about personal issues,” Boccia said. “We are required by law to protect the confidentiality of our employees. Our employees have the right to speak to the press about their personal circumstances but we, MUSD, are not permitted by law to engage in the public conversation regarding personal issues.”
School board officials were equally closemouthed about the issue.
Pink slips are required to be given to school employees by March 15 if there is any possibility the employee will not be asked back the following year.