I’ve been discontinued, or heading in that direction, now what?
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.
Before the steps below, knows the state law. If you’re discontinued in one district, you should be able to work in another, or in the same district under a different license.
This is a MUST READ: http://www.uft.org/new-teachers/tenure
What to do before I get discontinued or if I am on the road to discontinuance?
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. If you can secure a job before your discontinuance takes affect, the discontinuance can be null and void. You can also look for position in the same district, and if offered, plead with superintendent to just let your 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 your principal’s attorney listed on the right side here http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/GeneralCounsel/Legal/SFC/default.htm
The reason you want to do this is because both will be very involved in your process. You will want to pull the curtain back and make them aware that you know they exist. Explain to them the situation and put the ethical pursue on them to make this right. Attorneys are bound by ethical standards, even if they work in the DOE.
Here’s a how-to guide on how to find principal emails. 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 3: 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. Here’s a how-to guide.
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!
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 http://www.uftsolidarity.org/wp-content/uploads/appeal-process-1.pdf
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) 30 calendar days. You will be given the change to write back to your superintendent to appeal and plead your case. See a sample letter here and a step-by-step guide on crafting a rebuttal letter. 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:
Here is NYS Education Law 2573 mentioned in the letter: http://codes.findlaw.com/ny/education-law/edn-sect-2573.html
Here is section 4.3.2 of the NYDOE Bylaws mentioned in the letter: http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/B432D059-6BFE-4198-8453-466FDE2B22D5/69835/PEPBylawsFinal91409.pdf
4.3.2 “Appeals re Discontinuance of Probationary Service Any person in the employ of the City School District who appears before the Chancellor, or a committee designated by the Chancellor, concerning the discontinuance of service during the probationary term, or at the expiration thereof, shall have a review of the matter before a committee which shall be designated in accordance with contractual agreements covering employees or by 12 regulations of the Chancellor, as appropriate. After the review, the committee shall forward its advisory recommendation to the community superintendent or to the Chancellor in accordance with contractual agreements.”
Step 6: Lawyer up! You will need to file an Article 78, a state legal proceeding that seeks to annul an administrative decision, including an adverse rating and discontinuance. 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 Suit. 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 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 uftsolidarity.org
It’s been terminated and I’ve followed Steps 1-9! What else can I do?
Suggestion 1: 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.
Suggestion 2: 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!
Suggestion 3: Keep on hunting for jobs outside of your current district 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 Human Resource Department, email the Office of Personnel Investigations (OPI) using the following template and suggested Copy list:
To: KRodi@schools.nyc.gov, OPIInfo@schools.nyc.gov
CC: OPIProblemCode@schools.nyc.gov, LBecker@schools.nyc.gov, ESchlenoff@schools.nyc.gov, email@example.com
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, ect] 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 re-applying. Please advise. Finally, I would appreciate a scanned screenshot of my EIS page sent back to me if possible.