Local News

Teachers, Parents Protest Unexplained Firing of Durham YMCA Day-Care Director

Posted March 23, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— About 200 children normally attend the YMCA's Early Learning Center, but only a handful of kids were there Friday as teachers and parents objected to the firing of a key employee.

Parents and teachers picketed the center to express their anger and disappointment over the unexplained firing Thursday of program director Karenne Berry.

"She built this center from the ground up," said teacher Heather Clumpher. "She put the toys in it, she put the furniture in it, she put the staff in it. Without her, the center would be empty."

The center was almost empty, with a few administrative staff members on hand to care for the children. Some children had to be turned away because the staff was so limited. Most parents opted to take their children home.

"I'm not going to leave her here when the good teacher's outside," said parent Marcia Patterson. "I don't even know who's back there watching the other kids."

After meeting with her bosses, Berry came out to plea with the teachers to return to work.

The protesters wanted Berry reinstated, but instead officials informed them the firing would stand.

The teachers packed up and went home for good.

There will be a meeting at the center for parents Friday at 6 p.m.

The center has an interim director, and officials say the center will be staffed to accept all children on Monday.