Eleven teachers and staffers fired from Queens charter school

July 22, 2010 7:49:51 PM PDT
It could be the beginning of a growing battle between the teachers union and charter schools. The union is protesting the firings of 11 teachers and staffers at Merrick Academy in Queens. Merrick is a non-union charter school.

The teachers union considers the firing of staffers at the Merrick Academy to be a union issue, and those who were fired agree.

Jonathan Carrington, one of those who was fired, says they are being punished for union organizing.

The staffers were notified by Fed-Ex mail that they had been fired, with very short letters and no explanation.

"The firings were handled poorly," said Marjorie Berry, another fired staff member.

Eyewitness News has reported on the Merrick Academy Charter School for its academic programs in the past. Founded in 2000, it is the oldest charter school in Queens. Teachers there decided to join the union some two years ago. Negotiations have not yet produced a contract.

The staffers have the support of some Merrick Academy parents and children.

"The school has treated staffers unfairly," said parent Shannon Ernest.

The school has recently faced questions about its management and financial dealings.

School officials did not return Eyewitness News phone calls asking for comment.

The union will ask state labor officials to re-instate the teachers, with back pay and benefits.