I thought this memo from David Schutten of the Organization of DeKalb Educators to his members about the contract mess in DeKalb was worth sharing as it clears up several points.
While his memo speaks to the plight of DeKalb educators this week, his comment about the failure of administrators to spend the required time to do the new, more comprehensive teacher observations underscores a statewide concern.
When the state unveiled its plan for new teacher evaluations that will consider student performance and require increased classroom observation, I asked DOE whether it was a realistic, whether principals would be able to find the time to go into classrooms and watch teachers at work.
Schutten’s comments suggest that they are not finding the time – even under a limited pilot model involving a handful of teachers. How can we expand this model to every teacher in every school?
Here is Schutten’s memo, which was written for members of ODE:
I met with Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Director of Human Resources today. I also talked with her on the phone several times. I hope the information in this e-mail answers many of your questions.
Sign Your Contract if You Want to Keep Your Job!
Although your contract does not have the correct salary, if you do not return the contract on time, you will not have a job. You will receive a letter with your correct salary amount once the DeKalb School Board approves the budget. This is what happened back in the days when we were given COLA and Step Increases. The current salary was listed on the contract, and you were notified of your correct salary once the budget was approved by the BOE.
A contract delay is not synonymous with non-renewal. There are 5 basic reason for contract delays.
1. Non-renewal for performance. (Your principal should have notified you already.)
2. Non-renewal for certification problems. (You should have been notified by Human Resources already.)
3. Delay due to an ongoing or pending investigation by the Office of Internal Affairs. (You should be aware of this situation.)
4. Delay due to allotment overages. This applies to Assistant Principals, Media Specialists, PE and Health Teachers, some foreign language teachers or other special area teachers.
5. Delay due to pending salary adjustments. An example is teachers who are on 9 hour minimum day contracts, who are being moved to 8 hour minimum day contracts. I use the terminology 8 hour minimum day contracts because that is the language used in the applicable state laws for certified, full time employees: OCGA 20-2-168(c) and 20-2-240. This is also covered under DeKalb School Board Policy GBRL.
I will add a 6th reason. Retired teachers and administrators who are double dipping, i.e., drawing their full TRS as well as their full time salary based on their years of experience. There was a bill passed by the legislature this year now on the Governor’s desk, making the 2012-2013 school year the last year for double dipping. The bill will still allow retired teachers to work 49%. Although I have friends who are double dipping, I am not sure how any school system can in good conscience justify double dipping by retired teachers and administrators when they are laying off people who have not retired. Is this fair to the teachers and administrators who have yet not retired and who have received contract delays, or may not be renewed because they are in over allotment areas? This is a practice that was started by the previous administration. I believe Dougherty County no longer allows people in the TRS to come back full time.
I asked Dr. Smith this evening about German and Latin teachers. She said that all German teachers will receive contracts, and it is highly likely that all Latin teachers will receive contracts. Contracts were delayed for German and Latin teachers due to allotment overages, but it appears that resignations have solved this issue. (I accidentally deleted the e-mail a high school parent sent me about this concern.)
In previous years, every certified teacher and administrator who was not recommended for non-renewal was given a contract, even if there were not positions available. This year DCSS moved to Zero Based Budgeting. Contracts were not automatically awarded in areas that were determined to be over allotment, or the number of authorized positions. This has resulted in the contract delays.
(I do know from anecdotal evidence, principals who had their contracts delayed are being scheduled for one on one meetings with Ms. Kendra March, at which time they are apparently being told if their principal’s contract is being renewed.)
Reduction In Force
The RIF policy should apply to assistant principals and to teachers in areas over allotment. Three factors are taken into account with a Reduction in Force:
2. Professional expertise
Seniority is defined as continuous work experience in DeKalb, not in your present position. If you had a break in service in DeKalb, your seniority starts when you were rehired. For example, even if you have 18 years total work experience in DeKalb in two employment periods, and you took a break and came back in 2008 your present seniority started at that time, and you only have four years seniority.
Dr. Smith is in the process of setting up a meeting with Dr. Kathy Howe and the Instructional coaches prior to May 9. At that time, they should be prepared to explain how Instructional Coaches will be placed in teaching positions.
I asked Dr. Smith to set up a meeting with Graduation Coaches. There are no counselor vacancies as it is one of the allotment overage areas. However, graduation counselors who are still certified to teach should be able to be placed in a teaching assignment. Dr. Smith is hopeful that almost everyone whose contract was delayed should have a job. The biggest challenge is for Graduation Coaches who are not certified in other areas.
Also, Dr. Atkinson has not hired permanent replacements for principals who either retired or were demoted this school year. Retired principals were hired as “place holders.” When these positions are advertised, there should be APs moving to principal positions, which should provide positions for Assistant Principals who were classified over allotment. In any case, Assistant Principals who are not placed in other AP jobs, should be offered teaching contracts under the Georgia Fair Dismissal and Due Process provisions.
Professional Development Plans and Teacher Evaluations
If you are placed on a PDP, you should contact the ODE/GAE office immediately. We are very concerned about the number of teacher evaluations in which the GTOI and/or GTEP procedures have not been followed. At a recent non-renewal tribunal hearing, virtually every administrator testified under oath that they did not follow the GTOI/GTEP manual and/or did not effectively provide needed assistance under the PDP as well as admitting to not sufficiently monitoring the PDP. I find this highly disturbing. We cannot provide effective assistance two or three months after a teacher has been place on a PDP. I shared my concerns with both Dr. Atkinson this week, and Ms. March last week.
Class Keys Pilot Program
I also shared my concerns with Dr. Atkinson and Ms. March that some schools have failed miserably in the new teacher evaluation Class Keys Pilot Program. This evaluation requires one 30 minute scheduled evaluation, and one 30 minute unscheduled evaluation. If you are in the Pilot Program, and you were asked or instructed to sign your annual evaluation without two 30 minute observations, please contact ODE/GAE immediately. I have had teachers share with me that they only had one observation, or in some cases, 10 minute observations.
This is a very time consuming evaluation process. If some school administrators cannot effectively administer a Pilot Evaluation Program with 4 or 5 teachers, how will they manage 30-100+ teachers next year? It is clear to me, DeKalb is not ready to move to the new evaluation system.
ODE is requesting through GAE that the Georgia Department of Education delay implementation of the Class Keys Teacher Evaluation. As I said, I already find it extremely frustrating that there are too many administrators who cannot effectively and correctly complete teacher evaluations under a system that has been in place for over 20 years. Let me also add there is no acceptable excuse for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes on teacher evaluations. But let me also say thank you to those administrators who are performing and completing teacher evaluations correctly.
Where Are the Other Organizations?
The other organizations have been strikingly silent about the contract issues. ODE is the only organization that is working both out front and behind the scenes every day to resolve these issues. By the way, we are helping some former members who joined other organizations and have received assistance with PDPs after they request assistance, as long as they rejoin ODE/GAE/NEA.
Have Dave Schutten and ODE Sold Out?
I very rarely read the education blogs anymore as they are so negative and counterproductive. Every once in a while, I check out Maureen Downey’s blog when there is an ongoing controversial issue, which I did this week. Lo and behold, one of the regular, cowardly, anonymous bloggers, Beverly Fraud, gleefully quoted another cowardly, anonymous blogger on DeKalb Schools Watch “Clearly Dave Schutten and ODE have sold out.”
What does this mean? I cannot take seriously the comments of anyone who does not have the self respect to put their real name to their comments. I challenge these anonymous bloggers to a public debate. Do you have the courage and integrity to talk to me face to face? Come out from under or behind your rocks, or out of your caves, or out from under you white robes, i.e., your anonymous screen names, and be man or woman enough to own your opinions and put your real name behind your comments! It would be far easier for me to throw rocks and bombs and hide my hand like these pitiful people do, than putting myself out in public on behalf of ODE/GAE/NEA members to try to work through these issues. The blogs are depressing. Some of these anonymous bloggers are so negative, I do not understand how they make it through a normal day.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog