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Pat English, longtime post-secondary coordinator, will be moved to Walt Morey Middle School because of teaching license requirement

Students, alumni and parents are rallying behind a beloved Reynolds High School employee after learning he would be reassigned to work at a middle school at the first of the year.

Pat English, a classified employee in the Reynolds School District for 21 years and the current post-secondary coordinator of the high school, will no longer be able to continue in his position after Friday, Dec. 21, because he is not a licensed teacher, said Andrea Watson, spokeswoman for Reynolds School District.

“It’s hard not to see this as a personal situation, but we have the obligation to run a standard school and the work needs to be done by someone with a license,” Watson said.

Because the post-secondary position at Reynolds High, which offers guidance to students on post-high school plans, has evolved over the years, English was not listed as the teacher of record.

Under state and federal regulations, though, because English has operated in a teaching capacity while considered a classified employee, he is not authorized to teach the class.

Watson said the district did not realize until this fall when Susan McKinney, interim principal, discovered the nature of English’s role, that Reynolds High could no longer employ English as the program coordinator.

English has received an offer to work as an educational aide at Walt Morey Middle School beginning in January. He declined to speak to The Outlook, pending a Jan. 3 meeting with human resources.

A call to action

Through the Reynolds High seniors Facebook page and email, seniors Kaylyn Taylor and Nicki Gidney started collecting stories from students — 30 in one day — and received more than 180 signatures in a single day on a petition for English to stay at the high school.

“Within the short time I’ve known him, he’s been the person I go to with my problems,” Taylor said. “He’s the perfect person to get advice from.”

Taylor said she’d be the first person in her immediate family to graduate high school and said English was instrumental in helping her apply to the University of Texas.

Gidney said juniors spoke of how disappointed they were English wouldn’t be around their senior year. In addition to the post-secondary program, English was the senior class adviser.

“Reynolds has been through a series of tough times, and losing Mr. English would just add on to the list,” said Lisa Nguyen, a Reynolds High junior.

Despite students' concerns, Crystal Greene, communications director at the Oregon Department of Education, said Reynolds’ policy complied with state and federal regulations for high school career center instruction.

She said career center classes are typically taught by either certified counselors or certified career and technical education teachers. Nonlicensed teachers, she said, would need to work under a licensed teacher as an aide.

Watson said a substitue teacher has been working with English and will help two licensed teachers transition to the position for January.

But for students and parents who’ve grown attached to English, the regulations are hard to accept, especially halfway through the school year when many seniors are in the process of college applications and vocational planning.

“The guy is a fountain of information — invaluable,” said Jodi Cox, a parent, of English. “This just hits home."

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