Two Dozen RSM-Area Teachers on the Chopping Block

Six schools and 26 teachers could be affected by the proposed layoff by the Capistrano Unified School District. Among the targets: Tesoro football coach Brian Barnes, and 60 percent of first-grade teachers at Las Flores Elementary.

Tesoro High could lose eight teachers and Las Flores Elementary could lose more than half its first-grade teachers if a proposed list of personnel cuts is implemented by the Capistrano Unified School District.

All told, 26 local teachers at six schools are affected.

Three elementary schools would lose 14 teachers, while two middle schools could lose four teachers and Tesoro High could lose eight.

Teachers included in the list include Brian Barnes, a physical education teacher who is also the school's football coach.

  • .

Three of the five first-grade teachers at Las Flores Elementary are also on the list, and half the third-grade teachers at Tijeras Creek are also threatened. 

Hardest hit are first-grade teachers, as four are listed; three teachers are targeted in third and fifth grades.

  • Sign up to receive the daily Patch newsletter, or follow RSM Patch on Facebook and Twitter.
  • If you're a business owner or manager, claim the free listing for your business here.

Special education also took a hit, with three teachers listed.

The chart below includes each Rancho Santa Margarita-area school that has a teacher who received a layoff letter dated March 1.

There are three potential statuses: Permanent, meaning the teachers have tenure; "rehired/temp" means they were previously either permament or in a probationary period and were laid off, then later rehired as a temporary employee; and, temporary, meaning they work on one-year contracts.

To read why the district finds itself in this bind, and how this year's laid-off teachers may not be rehired as in years past, .

Arroyo Vista Middle

Name                           Year Hired Status Grade/Subject Notes Carolyn Carrie        
2004 Rehired/temp Social Science
Ashley Inskeep 2010 Temporary Music

Las Flores Elementary

Steffanie Garcia 2002 Rehired/Temp First Grade
Laura Goetsch-Gates 2002 Rehired/Temp First Grade
Maryann Mackey 2001 Rehired/Temp First Grade
Wendy Park 2010 Rehired/Temp Special Ed
Angela Portnoff 2003 Rehired/Temp Fifth Grade

Las Flores Middle

Johanna Heavlin-Martinez   
2006 Rehired/Temp Social Science
Lynette Pagano 2011 Rehired/Temp Special Education Mild/Moderate

Tesoro High

Brian Barnes 2007 Rehired/Temp PE Football Coach
John Beukema 2011 Temporary English
Judith Blakeney 2011 Rehired/Temp English
Ambreen Chak 2009 Temporary Math
Elizabeth Evans 2001 Permanent Art
Jenny Holen 2007 Rehired/Temp Life Science
Megan Leiva 2011 Rehired/Temp Physical & Life Science
Pedro Pulido 2011 Rehired/Temp Spanish

Tijeras Creek

Melissa Cox 2002 Rehired/Temp First Grade
Diana Morgan 2001 Rehired/Temp Fifth Grade
Laura Null 2010 Temporary Special Ed Mild/Moderate Christin Peterson 2002 Rehired/Temp Third Grade
Lari Portas 2001 Rehired/Temp Third Grade
Celeste Swanson 2001 Rehired/Temp Third Grade

Wagon Wheel

Todd Hoffman 2002 Rehired/Temp Fifth Grade
Lisa Kopczynski 2002 Rehired/Temp Fourth Grade
Elizabeth Morris 2002 Rehired/Temp Second Grade

Breakdown of Cuts
Class Total First Grade 4 Second Grade 1 Third Grade 3 Fourth Grade 1 Fifth Grade 3 Art 1 English 2 Math 1 Music 1 Physical Education  1 Special Education 3 Science 2 Social Science 2 Spanish 1
April Josephson April 19, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Hi LeAna, could you explain how you see that smga3000's comments highlight the need for the union? I don't have a lot of experience with a union, but do understand how things work in the business arena without a union. Without, those who are motivated generally excel and are rewarded. From everything I've heard about the unions, you have to do something criminal and maybe more to lose your job if you have the seniority, while many who are considered better performers are left out due to the guarantees to all senior staff, regardless of whether they are doing a good job or not.
LeAna Bui April 19, 2012 at 10:45 PM
April: Without the union protection, who protects the teachers' job from attacks like smga3000's? In the world without a union, the guy with the most money (power) rules no matter what. I have stated repeatedly that I have concerns about the role the union and its effect on individual teachers. However, if I were a teacher in today's environment, I would be grateful for the protection of the union. Yes, it is true that there is a seniority system in laying off teachers and just like in the business world, less performing people can keep their jobs while better performing people lose theirs. This is not a unique situation to teachers, this is the case in the business world as well. I really do not believe that only the incompentents are fired or laid off over the "quality" employees in the private sector. I know too many quality employees who have lost their jobs while the "incompetent person" kept his/hers.
April Josephson April 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM
LeAna, I do agree that the system doesn't always work properly in the private sector either, and I recall you mentioning that you have concerns about the union. JMO, but the laws that affect non-union situations make it simpler to follow appropriate procedures to remove someone that should not be in a certain position. This is where I question the effectiveness of the union. I tend to want to take action quickly to resolve a problem (following appropriate legal procedures, naturally). Whereas I feel that the union has a specific role that is designed to maintain the status quo and impede making changes without going through long, complicated processes that may or may not eventually resolve the problem. If they don't, that's a problem. If they do, there is a lot of wasted time where a better teacher could've been in a classroom... Of course, I could be wrong.
LeAna Bui April 20, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Hi April: I understand and appreciate those concerns. And I understand the concerns about effectively eliminating a nonperforming employee. However, those situations that "make it simpler to follow appropriate procedures to remove someone that should not be in a certain position." also make it easier to abuse authority and remove "unpopular" people who may be doing the right or better action. Teachers are in a terribly vulnerable position in their actions with our children. Their jobs are different from other industries in many respects and consideration should be given for those differences (in my opinion).
Aubrey June 08, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Lari Portas is a wonderful and motivating teacher. By far the best teacher my son has had. She was honored as teacher of the year at Tijeras Creek this year and this is how the district is repaying her? Shame on CVUSD.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »