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Malden students walk out in protest of non-renewal notices for some staff

Malden High School students staged a walk-out on Monday in protest against district leaders after dozens of staff members received notice last week that their contracts would not be renewed for next year, officials said.

The students walked out of school about 12:45 p.m. and marched to City Hall Plaza, according to a Facebook post by the Malden Education Association. The union said an estimated 1,100 students participated in the demonstration.

The walk-out came after Malden Public Schools Superintendent Ligia Noriega-Murphy issued a statement Friday that said 63 non-renewal letters had been sent out last week. Among those, 36 staff members’ contracts were not renewed “based on performance/evaluation, or lack of MA educator licensure,” the statement said. Those positions will be posted for people to apply for the next school year, the statement said.

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“These decisions are not made lightly as the district understands that it affects people’s lives and has an impact on students,” Noriega-Murphy said in the statement. “The decision is made by school and district administration teams collaboratively based on student needs within the framework of the budget.”

In response to questions from the Globe about the walk-out, Noriega-Murphy described it as a student-led “peaceful march to make their voices heard.”

“We are very proud of our students who were empowered to exercise their advocacy with regards to the recent non-renewal notifications that were given to some educators,” Noriega-Murphy wrote in an e-mail Tuesday morning.

According to her statement on Friday, 11 of the positions were supported by COVID-19 relief grant funding and were temporary roles that will not be posted for next year now that students are back to full-time in-person learning; nine positions were eliminated “due to low enrollment or programmatic changes within the district”; and seven temporary hires were displaced by staff returning from one-year leaves of absence.

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In addition, a number of Title 1 teaching assistants received letters alerting them of the date their contracts expire for this school year, the statement said.

“These positions are grant funded and require yearly application,” Noriega-Murphy said in the statement. “All of these staff members will be invited to reapply for their positions as they have done in past years.”


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.