Arlington Public Schools

Students, Parents Rally for Beloved Arlington Teacher Removed From Position

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Parents are outraged and demanding answers from Arlington Public Schools after a beloved teacher was escorted from her classroom during school.

For more than a decade, Sharon Gaston served as the lead reading specialist at Taylor Elementary School, and parents think she's being retaliated against and removed from her position after applying for the principal’s job at the school and being passed over.

They describe Gaston as a teacher who made reading lessons burst from the pages.

"She is the love of this school,” parent Carrie Wilks said. “She is positive; she loves these children. They love her."

Parents say the new principal reassigned Gaston to a different position, which she turned down and filed a grievance to keep her job as reading specialist.

Then during class April 29, school security went into her room in front of students and escorted her from the building, saying she was done at the school.

"It was a huge shock, and then for a lot of parents … to witness this. Parents are talking about maybe moving their kids if they don't feel safe at the school," parent Deanna Simon said.

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Parents and students rallied outside of Taylor Friday.

An APS spokesperson said they can't comment on personnel matters.

Parents say students need Gaston in the classroom. APS data shows literacy skills of Black and brown students are behind other ethnicities, and Symone Walker with Arlington NAACP said Gaston was one of just five Black elementary reading specialists.

“Her being African American brings cultural competency to the job as well, which is critically important," she said.

Parents are circulating an online petition in support of Gaston, and it has hundreds of signatures from families growing frustrated that APS isn't explaining what happened to the teacher.

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