Hundreds of Garfield High students stage walkout to protest possibly losing a teacher

SEATTLE -- Hundreds of students at Garfield High School walked out of class Thursday afternoon to protest the possibility of losing a teacher, because enrollment numbers are lower than the district originally thought they would be.

“It’s just outrageous to cut a teacher,” said freshman Nebeyat Arayarin. “It’s almost three months into the school year, they should have figured this out in the first week.”

Seattle Public Schools students have until the end of September to transfer. That’s why the district doesn’t count enrollment numbers until October. They say they make staffing adjustments every year, when those numbers come in.

“The teacher would not lose his or her job, they're under contract,” said district spokeswoman Stacy Howard. “We would work on finding another school for them to transfer to.”

But students say if a teacher is transferred now, 150 of them would suddenly find themselves with a hole in their schedule. They wouldn’t get credit for the work they’ve already done.

“We have tests almost every week, I’ve been busting my butt every single day trying to get good grades,” said freshman Nia Hall. “For all that to be taken away, it’s not going to count.”

There is also concern that if students lose credits, some might not be able to graduate on time. District officials say they’re sensitive to that, and will keep that in mind when they make their decision about moving teachers.

“If the teacher is here until the end of the semester, then students will keep those credits,” said Sarah Pritchett. “If we had to move a teacher now, that would potentially be a credit loss. So that's what we're trying to avoid.”

Several members of the parent association were at Thursday's rally, showing their support.

“I feel so proud of our students and our school,” said Marie Doyle. “These are going to be our next leaders, they're learning about how to raise their voices and stand up for what's important.”

Students hope the district was listening.

“If it was just two or three people then the district wouldn't even really care about it,” said junior Shedrick Johnson. “But since all the school came out and showed their full support, then it means something has to change.”

If a teacher is moved from Garfield, the district said it wouldn’t be a core teacher -- he or she would be an elective teacher and someone with the least seniority.