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Friday, March 26, 2010 - 11:54am

All Employees Dismissed At High School

About 200 teachers and staff at Beach High School in Savannah are losing their jobs because student achievement there is low.

The dismissals come in an attempt to qualify for as much as $6 million in federal education funds.

Beach, which has struggled with low student performance, recently had improved academically. But that improvement still did not meet standards as outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The school system could have pursued three other options -- fire only the principal, close the school, or make Beach a charter school.

Critics say the drastic move leaves students without the support system of teachers and other employees they already know, something they say could hurt the learning process.

"This is one of the fatal flaws of No Child Left Behind, is that it’s an all-or-nothing proposition," says Jeff Hubbard, president of the Georgia Association of Educators. "Our thing would be to utilize the federal stimulus money to help with professional development, assisting students with remediation, or allowing the school to be open longer hours."

Gregory Sapp, a Savannah-Chatham County school board member, says the action may help, though.

"When you get to a point and you’re not getting where you want to be, then sometimes you do better to just start over again," says Sapp.

Teachers can re-apply for their jobs, but federal law only allows about half of them to return to Beach. The rest may be re-assigned to other schools.