PINSON, Ala. (WIAT) — “He was freaking out and I asked him what was wrong and he said his job was posted on the Jefferson County website…so I went to look and mine was posted there as well,” that’s how Brandon Triola learned that he was being let go from his position.
Just days after being non-renewed, the Pinson Valley High School theater teacher spoke out against what he described as education politics.
“It’s a stab in the back especially when you don’t consider it just a profession; you’re a parental figure to these kid’s lives,” Triola said.
A lot of teachers were effected by district-wide layoffs, but students and parents were shocked that two beloved teachers Triola and the school’s band director Adam Bearden weren’t returning to the school.
Outrage ensued after word began to spread through the halls of Pinson Valley High that the teachers were being let go, so Triola and Bearden wanted a word with the principal.
“By the time that prep period happened he came around with the assistant principal, handed me a letter and said we’re not renewing your contract and I asked him why and he said I don’t have to tell you,” Triola said.
“He just said we’re going in a different direction.” However, that’s not the direction their students were willing to go – that same day they protested.
“To see the parents and the students come together like that and an entire city come to bat for you and say hey we’re trying figure out what’s going on for you, it’s a very humbling experience to go through that,” Triola said thankfully.
“We feel like they were the only two people who listened to our words,” said sophomore student Adam Bates during the protest on Wednesday.
“We don’t understand why you take something that’s working,” said Pam Johnson, a parent.
Even Triola was a bit confused on the timing after both fine arts program were thriving at the school.
“You know that there is something up, that it’s a money issue,” Triola said.
“I was about to be tenured, this is something that teachers have known for a long time and we all know what it’s a really about.”
For now, these students will have to live and learn their toughest lesson yet, “you’re disrupting lives that are in the middle of forming and that’s disheartening as well,” Triola said.
Jefferson County Schools responded to CBS42’s request for comment and they couldn’t speak to specifics, but said “It is hard decision-making time that happens every year,” said spokesperson Nez Calhoun.
Jefferson County Schools had 91 non-renewals across a district of 56 schools.