CJTS teachers lament ‘inhumanity’ of sudden staff layoffs

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Kyle Constable/The Connecticut Mirror

State Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, D-Meriden, speaks outside the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown following layoffs at the facility earlier this year.

The following are three statements made by Connecticut Juvenile Training School employees at last week’s press conference following layoffs of about one third the staff at the facility

I am here today to share my heartbreak and outrage as an educator over the current situation at CJTS. I do not worry for myself or my peers who have been laid off, but worry for my students who have been told yet again that their education and their positive relationships that have developed with mentors and staff do not matter.

I am worried for my peers who not only will have to address the daily outcomes of this re-traumatization of the student body, but who too are now scrambling to ethically provide those students the state mandated standardized education expected.

A week ago, I was anticipating several graduations in coming weeks. Now I am left to wonder if these students will even continue to strive for this celebration. Given six weeks’ notice and allowed to complete the academic year, we could have mitigated much of this trauma and helped our peers and program prepare a new service model.

Instead, here I stand before you today, an educator at loss.

On my way here to this conference, fate led me to encounter a previous student from years’ past, thriving successfully in the community. And for a moment my heart rang with the excitement of his success. But as quickly it dropped, thinking of all the students I did not even get to say goodbye to on Monday afternoon who will have to fight even harder to overcome these current setbacks, all in the haste to meet pending financial deficits.

Erika Johnson, Cromwell
Laid off special education teacher at CJTS

Earlier this week, CJTS lost 1/3 of its staff to immediate layoffs. The most troubled and vulnerable youth in the state of Connecticut lost dozens of trusted adults – YSOs, teachers, rec staff and clinicians – in a blink. There was no head’s up. There was no chance for closure. There was no opportunity even to say goodbye.

All this was done despite Governor Malloy’s promise to reduce our size methodically, planfully, and without causing further stress to embattled staff and residents here.

As you can well imagine the youth are struggling. What’s left of the staff is doing its best to pick up the pieces that the Malloy administration has now left behind.

Job reductions should never in a million years be implemented this way.

What Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration has now done to some of our states’ most challenged youth is unacceptable, irresponsible, abusive and borderline criminal.

I also challenge child advocates to answer to us. Where are your voices NOW, when REAL and irreparable damage is being done to the youth you claimed to be so concerned about last summer?

The people standing here today, represent the true advocates for these youth and we demand that the state does something now to repair the damage it has caused.

Suzanne Borner, New Britain
Special education teacher at CJTS

I am here today with my colleagues to stand as advocates for the young men who are at CJTS. Although we expected the layoff process to start, we had no idea that it would be done in such a heartless and inhumane way.

Staff, teachers and clinicians were told to leave without even having a chance for closure and goodbyes with their students.

This governor has been promoting his Second Chance Initiative and Raise the Age so this group of young men would receive better treatment. The attack on providers of these services — the teachers, Youth Services Workers and clinicians — by this governor, is evidence those promises meant nothing.

We were told by Gov. Malloy and most recently in a meeting with Deputy Commissioner Fernando Munoz, that a thoughtful plan would be implemented as CJTS moves toward closure. The thoughtful piece has not been implemented. Staff input has not been a part of any plan so far that we have seen.

Why aren’t the advocates declaring mistreatment now? It’s just another example of how easily this population can be disregarded… even by those who claim they “care.”

Paula Dillon, Cheshire
Special education teacher at CJTS

What do you think?

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