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SBCSC Controversy: Board President takes aim at older teachers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The President of the South Bend Community School Corporation is taking aim at older teachers.

Roger Parent sent an e-mail to the superintendent calling for the removal of teachers who are over the age of 80.

He favors replacing them with younger teachers who were let go in budget cuts.

ABC 57's Jason Aubry had the opportunity to meet one of the teachers who falls into this category.

Beverly Beck teaches second grade at Hamilton Traditional School and has no problems keeping up with 8-year-olds.

She has been teaching for more than 56 years.

"I don't have to teach. I'm old enough, but I come because I like it; I love it, in fact," said Beck.

At 80 years old, she's one of the oldest teachers in the district.

"I love it when they say, 'Oh, I get it now!' That's wonderful to see that light bulb go off and they really do catch on to it," said Beck.

Her students are not alone, Beck is still active and learning herself.

"I've picked up all the new technology, things like that, I'm on Facebook and all that."

She even fixes her own computers when they go down and Beck doesn't have plans to stop teaching any time soon.

"Whenever I feel like I can't do my job, I'll get out in a hurry," said Beck.

But someone else may be trying to make that decision for her. On Aug. 10, School Board President Roger Parent wrote a letter to Superintendent Carole Schmidt. In it, he said there are two teachers 80 years old or older who need to be "gently escorted out of the classroom," while two younger teachers should be rehired as soon as possible.

"I'm sad about that. I didn't know that he said that. I know he did feel that way, kind of, though," said Beck.

While Parent doesn't name who he is talking about, he insinuates the teachers are no longer able to teach adequately.

"If somebody is looking out to get me, I will say, 'You better prove it'. And I would feel just as bad if it was somebody else and I would go to bat for them too, because no one should be discriminated against on basis of age or anything else," said Beck.

The e-mail concludes, "If you take care of this issue, you will not hear from me any more on it".

When ABC 57's Jason Aubry confronted Parent about the comments in the e-mail, he denied making them, but other school board members have confirmed he wrote and sent the letter.

They further stated that Parent's opinions are his own and do not reflect how the rest of the board feels.


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