New Bedford teachers want school superintendent out

New Bedford School Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin

New Bedford teachers took a no-confidence vote Thursday and a majority of them said superintendent Pia Durkin should resign.

Of the 994 union members, 583 participated in the vote. Of those who voted, 577 voted no confidence in the superintendent.

"The problem with Dr. Durkin is she has created a climate of fear in New Bedford public schools," said Lou St. John, president of the teachers union.

But Durkin said she isn't going anywhere.

"I will continue to do my job, I will continue to serve this community and I will continue to contribute to the rise of this school district that is very much needed," Durkin told NBC 10.

Durkin said she was brought in this year to bring numbers up in the troubled district, which has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the state at 60 percent. She said she's not afraid to be tough on people when something isn't working.

"I can tell you that people's comfort zones have been disturbed. They will not remain in positions where they have not been successful," she said.

The union argues Durkin has been too tough.

In March, a video posted on YouTube showed a student throwing a chair at a teacher. Initially the teacher was blamed for not controlling her classroom.

St. John said Durkin is trying to decrease the number of student suspensions, which has led to an increase in violence.

"If that hadn't been captured on video, the teacher probably would have been fired. In the past when teachers came forward about similar incidents it was turned on the teacher," St. John said.

The vote of no confidence from the union doesn't carry a lot of weight as far as getting Durkin fired.

For Durkin to be let go by the city, the school committee would have to decide to get rid of her. But right now, they are standing with Durkin.