I’ve been discontinued, or heading in that direction, now what?
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Having your career derailed is not a great experience. Especially when it’s through no fault of your own. You may be a victim of a bigger agenda against tenure. Perhaps your administration has someone else in mind for your position. Maybe you were too vocal? The reasons for your discontinuance are endless.
Let’s see if we can help guide you through this horrible ordeal.
Important Documents to Review First:
Before the steps below, know the NYS law and NYC DOE Regulations. If you’re discontinued in one District, you should be able to work in another, or in the same District under a different license.
These are MUST READ documents:
2) Chancellor’s Regulation C-31
3) Chancellor’s Regulation C-205 (page 14)
4) UFT Contract Article 21 (page 149)
What steps do I need to take to defend myself?
Step 1: Have you been applying to schools outside of your current District? We hope you have. Email principals outside of your current District your cover letter and resume. You can look for a position in the same District, and if offered, plead with the Superintendent to just let you transfer.
Also, if you haven’t officially been given notice that you will be discontinued, you might want to try to email your Superintendent AND copy Charley Crowley, Esq., the Director of the Senior Field Counsel Unit at CCrowley@schools.nyc.gov. Mr. Crowley is the boss of your Superintendent’s and principal’s attorney, who is known as a Senior Field Counsel.
The reason you want to do this is because both the Superintendent and Senior Field Counsel will be very involved in your discontinuance process. You will want to pull the curtain back and make them aware that you know they exist. Explain the situation to them and mention that a Senior Field Counsel has an ethical obligation to investigate it and take appropriate action. Attorneys in New York State are required to adhere to the NYS Unified Court System’s New York Rules of Professional Conduct, even if they work for the DOE.
You can generally find a principal’s email address on the School Information Page within the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan.
Or if you still have access to your DOE email account, you can type the principal’s name into the “To” field in an email form, and the correct email address should appear.
Here’s a link to the Open Market Transfer System (OMTS), once your discontinuance is finalized by the Superintendent you will be able to view openings on OMTS but not directly apply through OMTS!
Step 2: Read the Educator Survival Guide. FOLLOW THE SUGGESTIONS (especially 1, 2, and 3!) to a T!
- Ask to see your file in writing (email leaves a “paper trail”). If your principal refuses, file a grievance. More on that further down. If there is anything negative in your file, write a rebuttal.
- Review your APPR (observations) on DOE Advance. Confirm ALL information is accurate. If your lesson plans are not attached to each observation, immediately email the principal, and copy the UFT Chapter Leader, requesting to correct.
- While you are emailing your principal, make sure you forward any important emails you received in your DOE Outlook and school emails to your personal email. You will be shut out of your emails with no warning if you are discontinued.
- Copy ALL shared documents (including staff meeting minutes, etc.)
- Copy ALL student artifacts.
Step 4: File an appeal with your Borough Office of the UFT. Don’t know where your Borough Office is located? Click here. At the UFT, ask to speak with a Special Rep about filing an appeal for Discontinuance and, if you have a rating lower than “Effective,” a Rating Appeal. Follow up all phone calls/in-person conversations with an email and write down whom you speak to. Also, YOU MUST read this document that tells you more about your rights regarding appeals.
Step 5: Write an appeal to your Superintendent. You will be given and mailed a letter from your Superintendent that states that they have been informed of your principal’s desire to discontinue you and that they will make their decision in (usually) thirty calendar days. You will be given the chance to write back to your Superintendent to appeal and plead your case. Note: it’s very rare for Superintendents to overturn a discontinuance because of your letter writing but if you plan on filing legal action (see next step), your rebuttal letter is a critical piece. Make sure to read this framework for tenure and cite it for a rebuttal http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/tenure-framework.pdf
You might receive a letter like this:
Or like this,
Here is NYS Education Law § 2573 which grants the authority for either a discontinuance of probationary service (during a probationary period) or a denial of tenure (at the expiration of a probationary period):
Here is section 12.4.3 of the Bylaws of the Panel for Educational Policy:
12.4.3 Committee Reviews
Any person who appears before a committee for the purpose of appealing a rating or concerning the discontinuance or denial of completion of probationary service or denial of certification or termination of a pedagogical license issued by or on behalf of the City School District to a non-tenured employee shall receive written notice of the time and place of the review, addressed either to the place of employment or to the last known post office address, at least one week before the date specified for said review. The notice shall inform the person that he or she is entitled to appear in person, to be accompanied and advised by an employee of the City School District or a representative of the union recognized by the PEP as the collective bargaining representative for the employee, to be confronted by witnesses, if any, to call witnesses, to examine exhibits and to introduce any relevant evidence.
If a witness who was summoned or requested to appear is unavailable or unwilling to appear despite the best efforts of the committee, this shall not prevent a review from continuing but shall be one of the factors considered by the committee.
The advisor need not be an attorney. The attendance of such advisor and witnesses, if employees of the City School District, shall not be deemed absence from official duty, but such persons shall not absent themselves from school duty except pursuant to such rules as the chancellor shall prescribe.
No employee of the City School District shall serve as an advisor or panel member in more than two (2) matters in a school year nor request or accept directly or indirectly any remuneration or other consideration for service as adviser or witness.
A sound recording shall be kept of the proceedings and the person who is appearing before the committee for the purpose of appealing a rating or concerning the discontinuance or denial of completion of probationary service or denial of certification shall be entitled to receive a duplicate of the sound recording of the review, at cost, upon written request. In the event that the sound recording equipment is not available or breaks down during the review, minutes shall be taken of the proceedings and such minutes shall be available to the person summoned at cost and upon reasonable written notice.
Nothing herein shall preclude witnesses from appearing at review proceedings by teleconference or other technological means.
Employees who are not entitled to a review of a u-rating, who timely appeal the decision to terminate their license or certificate, shall have the decision to terminate their licenses or certificates reviewed in accordance with the procedures contained in Chancellor’s Regulation C-31. Those procedures shall be deemed to be incorporated herein, and witnesses may also appear by teleconference or by other technological means.
Step 6: Lawyer up! If you wish to challenge an adverse rating, discontinuance of probationary service, or a denial of certification of completion of probation in State court, you will need to file an Article 78 pursuant to the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) within four months of the date of your dismissal. This is a State litigation that seeks to annul an administrative decision, including an adverse rating, discontinuance, or denial. Not every lawyer is an expert on teacher issues or the DOE. Do your homework before retaining a lawyer. You can try an attorney like Bryan Glass and Jordan Harlow at ghnylaw.com
If you cannot afford a lawyer, here’s how to do it pro se (by yourself): How to File an Article 78. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more support on this.
Step 7: File a PERB Improper Practice Charge (IPC). Do you think you were retaliated against for filing a grievance, being active in the Union, or suggesting that your principal was not following the contract? As a member of a Union in the State of New York, you have the right to proper and adequate representation by your Union (UFT) and to be free of retaliation by your employer (DOE) while exercising your Union rights. If you feel these rights and representations have been violated, you may be able to file an Improper Practice Charge against either party.
A number of our members who filed both an Article 78 and a PERB IPC have been able to get a decent settlement (see one such story here).
Step 8: When you get your APPR form, file an APPR Resolution Petition with the UFT. You must file this NO MORE THAN 5 DAYS AFTER you receive your APPR form!
Step 9: Connect with others. This is an uphill, unfair battle. You will need all the support you can get. Join the movement.
Have a question about what to do? Simply email UFT Solidarity at email@example.com and we will get back to you. This email is sent to our support team who can respond quickly.
If you want to also join our mailing list for planning, meetings, and announcements, then just send a blank email to discontinuedUFTfirstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to take a more proactive role in NYC education and are a UFT member, then check out UFT Solidarity at solidarityuft.org
Also Follow us on Twitter @UFT Solidarity.
Join us on Facebook: Discontinued Members, and UFT Solidarity.
What are my next moves once I’ve been terminated?
Step 10: Go to PEP with like-minded individuals. Contact us via Facebook, Twitter, and the listservs above to see if you can get speakers to go with you. Preach about abuse or cruelty.
Step 11: Speak to UFT Solidarity Council about going to speak up at UFT Executive Board meetings. UFT pledged to support discontinued teachers. Hold them to their word!
Step 12: Keep on hunting for jobs outside of your current District that you were terminated from. August through April are good times to be reaching out to principals who may need teachers to cover leaves or expected vacancies in their schools. Use your networks and contacts to get hooked up at a school. If you get a principal who is interested in hiring you but is dealing with issues from the DOE’s Division of Human Capital, email the Office of Personnel Investigation (OPI) using the following template and suggested Copy list:
To: KRodi@schools.nyc.gov, OPIInfo@schools.nyc.gov
CC: OPIProblemCode@schools.nyc.gov, JNathan@schools.nyc.gov, CGuerra7@schools.nyc.gov, TGantz@schools.nyc.gov
Subject: Clearance Needed for Employment
To Whom It May Concern,
I am requesting a meeting with OPI to discuss my status in EIS. There is a principal who is interested in nominating me for a__________ [fill in information: leave, permanent, etc.] position at their school. To help them in expediting the process to appoint me for the position, I am curious if there is a clearance process I need to go through with OPI. I previously was employed by the DOE in District ____ and now am interested in reapplying. Please advise. Finally, I would appreciate a scanned color screenshot of my EIS page(s) sent back to me if possible.
Step 13: Update Resume and Teacher Portfolio
1] Start researching schools
2] email cover letter or letter of interest along with resume
3] prepare for interviews, demo lessons and to answer the question of why you are leaving or left your last school.
“My last school was challenging and rewarding, and gave me insight into why I am interested in this position”
“I never would have imagined that I would be in this position explaining what happened. However, the school truly was not the right fit for me“
Step 14: NYSTeach Account
Search Certification Requirements, is an online search feature that allows you to identify the specific requirements you must meet for any given certificate. (e.g. special education certifications are in high demand).
Step 15: Interviews
Accept ALL interview requests, regardless if you do not want to work at the school. You will have better interviews with this practice and/or you might actually want the job.