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Teachers draw numbers from hat to determine who their school district lays off

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Image source: WSAZ-TV

Facing cuts in state spending, teachers in Kanawha County, West Virginia, are being laid off from their jobs.

But the way the district decided to inform the educators of the cuts is what's raising eyebrows.

According to WSAZ-TV, due to its loss of 731 students, the Kanawha County School system is losing state funding for 72 positions. And last Thursday, in one wave of cuts, 34 teachers from the system were forced to draw numbers out of a hat to see who would remain for the 2017-18 school year and who would be dismissed.

Of those positions, 47 are professional posts and 25 are service jobs.

"If you drew number one through 24, you get to keep your job or a job," Rebecca Rhett, who teaches kindergarten at Overbrook Elementary, told the local news outlet. She added that those who drew numbers between 25 and 34 are not guaranteed a post in the coming year.

"I was already crying before I went up because I was frustrated, so when I drew the 28 I just left," she added.

Rhett said the only thing the 34 teachers had in common was their start date — Aug. 3. Looking around the room full of teachers, the veteran instructor said most of her colleagues were "right out of college or not too far out of college."

And with more than 20 years of experience in other districts, Rhett said she was frustrated that her own history was not taken into account. Instead, the dismissal practice, which the district said was part of code, was based solely on seniority, so, even though she had more experience that many of the other teachers, Rhett was subjected to cuts because she was hired at the same time.

Rhett called the process "degrading" and "very offensive."

"Seniority is the only factor that counts. Experience from other counties doesn't count or your credentials doesn't count," she explained.

In order for her to keep her job at Overbrook or at a school in another county, four people need to retire, Rhett said.

Teachers who drew numbers 25 and higher will be employed through June and will be first on the list to fill slots vacated by retiring instructors. For those unable to find work, they will be added to a preferred rehire list.

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