Facebook page backs dismissed teachers

MYRTLE BEACH -- A student at Myrtle Beach High School started a Facebook social networking group to try and save the jobs of two teachers whose contracts are not being renewed for next year.

The two teachers, Rivers Lynch and his wife Teresa Lynch, both 62, retired from the system several years ago, but continued to work at the school, meaning they were year-to-year or at will workers. Rivers Lynch currently teaches drivers education and coaches the boys and girls tennis teams. Teresa Lynch is a guidance counselor.

Both were notified last Tuesday that they would not be asked to come back next year because of budget cuts, Rivers Lynch said.

``By our own policies and guidelines... we are only supposed to employ at-will workers if we are unable to fill those positions,'' said Horry County Schools spokeswoman Teal Britton. ``We've had in better economic times the ability to retain people for various reasons, but right now it raises questions of fairness.''

Britton said the positions are not being eliminated, but other teachers who may have been laid off because of ongoing budget issues could possibly be placed in those positions.

Students started a Facebook campaign Friday, which had grown to include 1,044 members as of Monday afternoon. According to the page, other students began circulating petitions to keep the Lynches employed at the school. Rivers Lynch said he was touched by what the students and alumni are doing.

``It just really makes me feel good. I have four daughters and one called me and said, `dad, you need to look on Facebook.' She started crying telling me about it,'' he said. ``It really overwhelmed me to see all of the support and letters, that's what's gotten us through this week. I don't want the students to do anything to get themselves in trouble because this isn't about the students. This is a budget situation, it revolves around money.''

Lynch said he and his wife have each been teaching at the school for more than 40 years. He also said three other at will teachers at the school were told they will not be asked to come back next year.

Efforts to reach he student who is believed to have started the group were unsuccessful.