We apologize for our old ass pictures of Garfield High School.
We apologize for our old ass pictures of Garfield High School. SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARCHIVES

Garfield High School teachers staged a sit-in today because two of their teachers' positions were cut. The district has contacted the school twice and claimed that the teachers are violating their contract.

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The moves are part of district-wide displacements that are impacting 33 different teachers at Seattle Public Schools.

The two teachers being cut are Jesse Purcell, GHS's only female gym teacher, and Amy Miller, a health teacher. Both classes are graduation requirements.

Rosa Powers, a language arts teacher at GHS, told The Stranger that GHS teachers met early this morning and decided they had to act. During the second and third period, what GHS calls advisory, teachers and students staged a sit-in in the gym.

"We didn't want to let today go by without addressing what’s going on," Powers said. She also stressed that this was not a walk-out or a strike. Those actions would be in violation of the teachers' contract.

Some teachers opted to remain in their classrooms, but most of the school sat together in the gym. There, they heard from different speakers. Some of the educators expressed what their issues were. Students came up to talk about the cuts and how it impacted them. Then students were asked to stand up if they had had either of the teachers at their time at GHS. About 300 students stood up, Powers said.

"The main reason we acted today is that the teachers who were cut today serve mostly students of color and lower income students," Powers said. "Those kids lost those programs."

Those voices are also, unfortunately, not as powerful.

"If the AP (Advanced Placement) classes had been cut it'd be a completely different story," Powers said.

While the teachers were in the gym, the district sent their principal an email saying they were violating their contract, claiming that this was a strike. Later in the day, members from the district came down to GHS.

"All of a sudden," Powers said, "on our school website there was a note that said in bright red that Garfield teachers have staged this strike against the contract. It called people back to classes. It was updating parents but doing it in a way that seems very dangerous and scary."

Powers pointed out that teachers still took care of the kids and taught them something collectively.

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Screenshot Garfield High School website

While Powers spoke to The Stranger she was in between her last classes of the day. The students said they wanted to spend their class time crafting letters and e-mails to send to their teachers who were being displaced. Displacement is the district's term because technically teachers will not be without a job—they will either be reassigned to the same position at another school or remain as substitutes at their current school until a permanent position opens.

"The students wanted to create art for them," Powers said, "to show they're not interchangeable to them."

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Additionally, students outlined what mattered to them about these cuts. They crafted e-mails to the school board and district members.

Sadly, displacements like these happen every year. The big difference this year is the time that they're happening—school has already been in session for three weeks.

"This is not out of the ordinary at all and we’re sick of it," Powers said. "We’re sick of having our chains jerked every year or every other year when district numbers go down."