Angry D.C. parents and teachers crowded City Council chambers Friday to complain about the layoffs of more than 300 teachers and school staff.
They demanded an explanation to accusations that teachers were abruptly taken from their classrooms. Some even claim that the firings targeted union members, outspoken teachers or veteran teachers.
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee insisted the layoffs were fair and necessary to balance the budget.
Mary Levy, a school activist for 30 years, finds the numbers being tossed around are confusing to follow.
"I have spent the last three weeks struggling to understand the facts behind the teacher firings. It is extraordinarily hard. It has never been so hard," said Levy.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, who is weighing a run for mayor next year, contended budget cuts weren’t the cause of layoffs.
"I refuse to stand idly by and allow the city's young people to become victims of their own school system," he said.
Marion Barry, former mayor and current Ward 8 council member, was more blunt about his accusations.
"We've had these numbers thrown around. We've had this happen and this happen. And just say straight up, 'A lot of lies have been told,'" he said.
Some dismissed teachers said the firings came as a surprise.
"They told us we were to direct all of our students downstairs to the multi-purpose room. They didn't say for what. And while the students were watching this movie, the assistant principal walked over to people. And one at a time asked them into the office,” said Trace Norris.
Even though the City Council chambers were packed, there's no sign the council will reverse any of layoffs.
The City Council will meet again on Oct. 29 to address the teacher layoffs. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Rhee will give their input.