Layoff practices at Jetson Correctional Center questioned - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Layoff practices at Jetson Correctional Center questioned

By Keitha Nelson - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Over a dozen educators at Jetson Correctional Center are crying foul after they received layoff letters from the facility. The most recent letter says their last day at work is April 1st.

In July of 2008, Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill that mandated the closure of Jetson. Since then, the facility has cut back on the number of kids and staff, but some refuse to go quietly. A group calling itself "Educators for Ethics" is fired up about being laid off.

All of the group's members got letters Friday stating their last day at Jetson will be on April Fool's Day. "We understand that there had to be some cuts because the numbers are down," said Teri Nichols Barrow. "But the way they did it is wrong. If we thought it had been done right, we couldn't say anything, but we know that it was done to keep the people that have political connections or connections to the people at the central office." Barrow believes department heads at Jetson are hand-picking who they want to stay.

Prince Gray, a spokesperson for the Office of Juvenile Justice says the process to select who stays and who goes was well thought out. Administrators partnered with the Missouri Youth Institute for four days of training to develop a plan. Gray says they used a scoring system based on years of experience, education, and a series of questions about teaching practices. "My heart goes out to them," he said. "Because we're talking about real people and in today's economic times, I really feel for them."

Barrow has worked in the education department at Jetson for 11 years. She says some of the people laid off have put in as many as 25 years of service. "It does hurt. I've tried to be strong, but the kids, we get attached to them. Despite what Jindal says when he gets on national television and tells people about ethics reform in Louisiana. It's still the same old business. It's still who you know, not what you know," said Barrow.

Barrow says she and her group are planning to protest on their official last day, April 1st. Jetson is scheduled to be closed at the end of June, but officials plan to ask to re-open the facility under a new name, "The Capital Area Center for Youth." Reportedly, it would be more of a therapeutic facility.

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