Oakland Schools to still offer recently-cut trade program after students speak out

Visual imaging program previously canceled after losing teacher

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CLARKSTON, Mich. – Oakland Schools will still offer a trade program that was recently abruptly cut, affecting dozens of students’ plans.

The district abruptly canceled one of its trade programs at Northwest Technical Campus on Thursday, telling students they lost the teacher.

The 61 students enrolled in the visual imaging program reportedly got a letter from the dean stating that they lost their instructor and were unable to find a qualified replacement.

According to students who have been with the program’s teacher for a year, the teacher had concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19) and wanted to teach the online class from home. The students said their teacher didn’t want to teach the online class from the school in order to protect her child, who has underlying health issues -- but students think the district denied that request.

There are 61 Oakland Schools students suddenly trying to fill a major gap in their academics.

However, on Saturday, Dean Chuck Locklear sent a letter stating that a substitute teacher will temporarily lead the program until a permanent replacement is found. The temporary teacher is reportedly coming from the district’s Technical Campus Southwest and has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and animator for five years.

“It is my hope that this news provides parents and students a measure of peace, allowing each of you time to relax and enjoy the holiday weekend. As you know, we live in very fluid times,” Dean Locklear wrote Saturday.

The Oakland Schools visual imaging program dates back to 1972. Its recent cancelation took an emotional toll on the dozens of students enrolled in the program who rely on the course to advance their academic and professional careers.

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Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.