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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

High Tech High fires teacher amidst effort to unionize

A union organizer was fired by High Tech High before the end of the school year and an unfair labor practices charge has been filed.

SAN MARCOS, Calif. — Controversy has come to light at one of the largest charter school systems in San Diego County with more than 6,000 students. A teacher and union organizer was fired by High Tech High before the end of the school year and an unfair labor practices charge has been filed. 

A virtual rally on Zoom Thursday garnered nearly 50 supporters for Jared Hutchins. Some shared their roles in what transpired over the last few months on the San Marcos campus of High Tech High. They were trying to unionize the teachers.

"And then Jared, a fellow teacher and organizer, raised his voice and was abruptly fired. That's when I got scared," said teacher Sara Kennedy.

Over 60% of the teachers signed a petition to form a union, but Hutchins was out. 

Two students told of pain at his firing.

"It was heartbreaking," said former student Natalie Ibbetson. "I was excited to be in class with Jared; he was my advisor and [I] wouldn't see him again. I was hoping to have more of a peaceful ending to my time at High Tech High."

"It was very abrupt, very disappointing," said another former student Giovanna Hamed. "Lots of students were very angry and it was such a sudden surprise one month before we graduated." 

Hutchins spoke about his mindset and actions.

"I fought and was fighting for teachers to have an equal voice at the table," he said. "It was because I was unapologetic about my purpose of bringing anti-racist practices into our schools."

One teacher was fierce in her attitude.

"If we don't stand up - it's not - it is about Jared but it's about so much more," said Lisa Gore. "It's about people of color on my own campus coming to me, saying, 'Lisa, you're the Lorax. You speak up because I can't'"

Afterward, Hutchins expressed gratitude to all of them.

"Having that kind of support, it's inspiring," he said. 

The school released a statement, refusing comment on the personnel matter but stressing that it is "committed to making High Tech High an inclusive, anti-racist environment."

The charter school board meets next Thursday.

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