TVCC lays off 19 as state prison system suspends education programs | Malheur Enterprise
The state Corrections Department made a surprise decision to stop education services for inmates at Snake River Correctional Facility, forcing Treasure Valley Community College to cut 19 employees immediately. The college announced the development Monday night.
Snake River Correctional Institution outside Ontario. (FILE/The Enterprise)
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ONTARIO – The state Corrections Department has suspended its education program for inmates provided by Treasure Valley Community College, triggering the immediate layoff of 19 college employees.
Abby Lee, TVCC associate vice president, said in a statement said that Tuesday would be the last day of work for the employees.
The move came as another reaction by the state to dealing with the global pandemic. Gov. Kate Brown has said she is also considering releasing some inmates who are near the end of their sentences to create more room in prisons.
The college workers provided GED classes and English classes to inmates at Snake River Correctional Institution outside Ontario and Warner Creek Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison outside Lakeview.
State officials notified the college Friday that it wanted to suspend the contract for the teaching for at least two months.
“The state required an immediate contract with TVCC requiring payments for these services to end on April 12, 2020,” according to Lee’s statement, issued Monday night.
According to TVCC’s website, the college provides educational services to about 650 inmates a year at Snake River. The prison currently houses 2,715 inmates. The college website said inmates are provided GED courses, adult basic skills education or English as a Second Language classes, usually as part of the inmate’s individual plan. The college also provided a building construction program.
The program suspension means the college loses state money to pay for the employees and additional revenue for administering the education services.
Faculty will get 30 days of pay and other employees will receive their accrued vacation pay.
“We hope this is a temporary delay in services as the state deals with revenue changes due to the statewide response to COVID-19 closures, although no additional information as to when services will resume,” Lee said in her statement.
The Corrections Department also contracts with Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton for education services at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla and Powder River Correctional Facility in Baker City.
The agency’s website also lists education contracts with Portland Community College, Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Chemeketa Community College in Salem, and Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay.
Information wasn’t readily available early Tuesday on whether the other community colleges have had their Corrections Department contracts suspended.
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