Writing a Rebuttal to Adverse* Lesson Observation Reports in Your File

(* adverse = containing ratings of “Ineffective,” “Developing,” or “Unsatisfactory”)


(This material is not intended to be legal advice.  Please consult an appropriate attorney or County Bar Association if you feel that you need specific legal advice relating to the circumstances of your own situation.  If you would like to consult with a lawyer, contact your local Bar Association for assistance HERE.)

All lesson observation reports are nothing more than compilations of advice, criticisms, evaluations, and recommendations — in other words, opinions — and should be rebutted by all teachers who do not agree with any of the ratings contained within the observation report, or with any of the text comments within. That being said, you should write a formal rebuttal to any observation report, or any part of an observation report, whenever you feel the rating was made in error or bad faith. Then, email it to the appropriate supervisor and additional parties.

Observation reports are exempt from public access under the New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) because they contain neither “statistical or factual tabulations or data” nor any other categories of information which are subject to public production (for example, “instructions to staff that affect the public” or “final agency policy or determinations”) and are, therefore, categorized as “opinions.”  If you do not believe this statement, please see the decision of the Second Appellate Division in Elentuck v. Green (202 A.D.2d 425) and the decision of the NYS Supreme Court, New York County, in Mulgrew v. Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York (31 Misc 3d 296).  Feel free to conduct your own research into the matter.  Over twenty years ago, the DOE and the Corporation Counsel’s Office had let it be known to the world — in front of an appellate court — that observation reports are nothing more than the opinion of the supervisor who conducted the lesson observation and wrote the report.  Therefore, it is imperative that you write a rebuttal to that opinion if you do not agree.

How to write a rebuttal to an observation report**:

**This section of the website is a work in progress.  In the future, templates will be posted concerning other types of letters for the personnel file.

The first thing you need to do is let the supervisor know that you do not agree with the observation report that has been returned to you.  To do this, you will complete the letter 1 template (Copy, paste, and fill out the missing info.) and email it to the person who conducted the lesson observation.  (ONLY the supervisor who issued the observation report gets your letter 1 response.)  This will put the supervisor on notice that you do not agree with the contents of the observation report, either in whole or in part, and give the supervisor time to identify any “statistical data” (i.e., “statistics”) and “factual data” (i.e., “facts”) in the observation report.  (Do not worry, because there is none, according to the DOE and the courts.)

Then, based on how the supervisor responds or does not respond, you will complete the appropriate letter 2 template response.  Follow the flow chart to use the correct template.  Your response (Letter 2) to the supervisor is to be emailed to the supervisor and cc’d to all emails listed at the bottom of the template.  Make sure to remove all unnecessary text in the template (such as the heading with instructions) and complete all information that will make it your personal response to the supervisor. When you select your letter 2 response, be sure to include in your email all communications between you and your supervisor.  You should attach to your email the letter 1 that you sent to the supervisor, and the supervisor’s response to you (if they decided to respond), so that the cc’d parties can read to catch up on the conversation.

Feel free to add anything that you want to the template, but it is highly recommended that you do not remove anything from the template.  These templates were constructed with great care and detail to help assist teachers in responding to supervisors who may not be acting in the best interests of the teacher and students.

Rebuttal Flow Chart

flowchart 4

Model Letter Flowchart


Rebuttal Letter Templates


Model Letter 1

Download (DOCX, 17KB)

Model Letter 2A

Download (DOCX, 26KB)

Model Letter 2B

Download (DOCX, 26KB)

Model Letter 2C

Download (DOCX, 25KB)

Model Letter 2D

Download (DOCX, 25KB)

Model Letter 2E

Download (DOCX, 25KB)

Model Letter 2F

Download (DOCX, 25KB)

Model Letter 3 

Download (DOCX, 14KB)

Subject Headings for Emails

  1. Subject Heading for Model Letter 1:  Notification of Disagreement with Observation Report or Portion Dated __________

  2. Subject Heading for Model Letter 2:  Rebuttal Letter Regarding Observation Report Dated __________

  3. Subject Heading for Model Letter 3:  Request for Investigation, Research, and Public Hearing


Please be sure to add these addresses in the “CC” Section of an email:

Copy and paste all twenty-one email addresses (including the separating commas) exactly into the “cc” box of an email form when you’re preparing whichever version of Model Letter 2 you’ll be filling out:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Checklist for Writing and Sending your Model Letter 2 Rebuttal

Download (DOCX, 21KB)

In Solidarity,




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