Petition Against Wrongful Termination of High Tech High Teacher

Dr. Rasheed Meadows, Gary Jacobs, and the High Tech High Board

This April, teachers at High Tech High, a group of charter schools in San Diego County, formed a union, the High Tech Education Collective. In the spirit of HTH’s founding principles, this Collective believes that all staff, students, and families should be equitable partners in shaping the future of our organization.

We met this goal by working tirelessly for months behind the scenes as an organizing committee. On April 29, most teachers received letters of intent confirming they would be rehired next year. On that same day, an article was published by SD News quoting Jared Hutchins, a respected four-year veteran of our schools, as a member of our organizing committee. Later that day, Jared was fired, effective immediately. We believe this action is unlawful, unethical, and harmful to our students and staff culture.

The removal of an outstanding teacher in the middle of the year without due process is reflective of the behavior our CEO Dr. Meadows said would no longer be practiced. In the same letter, delivered a day before Jared’s firing, Dr. Meadows also said those kinds of terminations were “rare” within our schools. Unfortunately, many of us have been here longer than Dr. Meadows, and know that unexplained firings and non-renewal of contracts are very typical of High Tech High.

In his time at High Tech High, Jared has never been formally reprimanded for any of the reasons stated in his termination, and is generally regarded as an excellent teacher, colleague, and advocate. Using subjective and undocumented reasons such as "not supporting students" and "being dismissive of leadership" is not just cause for terminating a teacher mid-year. In addition, firing excellent teachers from our school communities not only impacts the quality of education provided to our students and raises students’ stress levels during an already turbulent time, it also shows that High Tech High is not respecting teachers’ legally protected and democratic decision to form a union.

The California Educational Employment Relations Act, Section 3543.5.a, states that it is unlawful for an employer to “impose or threaten to impose reprisals on employees, to discriminate or threaten to discriminate against employees, or otherwise to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees because of their exercise of rights guaranteed by this chapter.”

Even beyond the violation of state and federal law, we believe that an organization that describes itself as an “equity project” should not retaliate against employees who use their voices to fearlessly call out injustices—or their right to organize—and school cultures that emphasize practices of restorative justice with students should extend that same justice to staff. Jared has been a committed leader of antiracist, anti-bias work on the North County campus since his hiring. He brings an invaluable Ethnic Studies lens to his Government classes and a deep commitment to create liberatory learning spaces for all students in the High Tech High network. Guided by this commitment, Jared has worked to dismantle the tenets of White Supremacy culture in our schools and among our staff by consistently calling in colleagues and leaders to learn alongside him. As an outspoken voice for antiracism work in the North County village, it is striking that an organization committed to equity and antiracism would silence and terminate a leader in that work.

In a year that has already represented instability for so many, we should be pursuing paths toward stability, not adding more chaos into the lives of our vulnerable students and staff. How do the students benefit from having their teacher ripped away from the classroom midyear? What does this say about our organization that it is so willing to abandon a teacher’s contract without due process?

We are calling on High Tech High and its leadership to respect our right to organize and freely vocalize our concerns, and to reinstate Jared Hutchins immediately.

We believe it is our collective obligation as a union, as teachers, as peers, as HTH families, and as the larger educational community to protect the High Tech High teaching and learning community. This means demonstrating our shared values by leveraging our collective power to correct this egregious act committed by HTH leadership.

For more information about the High Tech Education Collective, visit our website, our Twitter, and our Instagram.

To: Dr. Rasheed Meadows, Gary Jacobs, and the High Tech High Board
From: [Your Name]

The High Tech Education Collective calls on Dr. Rasheed Meadows to reinstate Jared Hutchins to his position at HTHNC immediately after he was fired without the due process promised by Dr. Meadows to our community less than 24 hours before.