The Providence School Department released its plan to rescind many, but not all, of the teacher dismissal notices that went out several months ago. A matching system has been designed that will primarily take merit into account when connecting teachers with positions. Teachers currently working for the system will have priority over teachers applying from outside. Positions not filled under this system will be filled via the Criterion-Based Hiring system, the details of which have not yet been finalized. Specifics are found in the press release, pasted below:
PROVIDENCE SCHOOL BOARD STATEMENT ON PLAN TO RESCIND TEACHER DISMISSALS
PROVIDENCE (May 3, 2011) – On May 2, 2011, the Providence School Board approved a plan for immediately rescinding letters of termination for 1,445, or nearly 75%, of teachers who received letters of termination this year. The plan also outlines a process for matching teachers who cannot be immediately placed (~370 teachers) with open positions available within the district.
The School Board sought to create a plan for rescinding letters of termination that is fair to teachers displaced as a result of the fiscal crisis facing Providence, while taking into account how best to minimize the disruption caused by school closures. This plan accomplishes that goal.
Earlier this winter, in accordance with a State Law that requires teachers be notified about their employment status by March 1, all Providence Public School teachers were notified that their positions could be terminated at the end of the current school year. The Providence School Board issued termination notices instead of layoff notices because layoffs may not have resulted in a significant reduction of costs. Termination enabled the district to retain maximum flexibility to deal with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, including a $110M City-wide structural deficit.
Out of an abundance of caution, letters were sent to all teachers. Decisions about how to rescind terminations noticed were contingent on plans for closing the school budget deficit, including the closure of schools.
Now that the school department knows which schools are closing and where additional teaching staff will be needed, it is possible to begin to rescind letters of termination. The plan includes the following conditions:
Under the plan proposed by school board, 1,445 teachers will immediately be sent letters rescinding their terminations. Teachers who will have their letters rescinded—thereby renewing their current teaching positions—include all teachers at schools not slated for closure (except Asa Messer/Messer Annex), teachers not being terminated for cause, teachers who have elected to retire and are legally obligated to retire as of June 30, 2011, and teachers not at transformation schools (schools identified in 2010 by RIDE as persistently low achieving).
Teachers at Asa Messer and Asa Messer are among the 1,445 teachers whose letters are rescinded because the Asa Messer learning community is being moved as a whole to the repurposed Bridgham Elementary School. All teachers from that community will be retained.
Under the plan there are ~370 teachers who will not immediately receive letters. This group will be invited to participate in a match process to fill available teaching positions across the district. This group includes teachers who are teaching at transformation schools and were not rehired, those teaching at Flynn, Windmill, West Broadway and Brigham Middle School, those who are currently in “forced placement’ positions from last year, or those considered as “R’s in Pool,” i.e., teachers whose positions were eliminated but they are now in the substitute pool. This process will not be unlike the selection process used to match doctors with residency programs.This plan mandates that any new or vacant positions be filled first by qualified Providence Public School teachers. Second, it allows displaced teachers to compete for open vacancies on an even playing field through an interview process that does not involve external candidates. Third, it empowers Principals to select teachers based on student needs in their buildings, not strict seniority, as mandated by RIDE’s Basic Education Plan. Finally, it focuses the process only on teachers whose positions are directly affected by school closings or program reorganizations and changes, aiming to minimize potential ripple effects by displacing as few teachers as possible.
The plan will put an end to the “R’s in pool” category, thus achieving significant savings for the city.
119 teachers will not receive letters rescinding their termination. These include teachers who are being terminated for disciplinary/performance reasons, had their certifications rendered obsolete due to subject reorganizations, or those who are holding temporary emergency certifications.
The School Board, PPSD and the City are proactively seeking a legal opinion confirming the legality of the plan. The Board today filed in Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment on the plan in hopes of avoiding unnecessary legal delays.
How Teachers will be Rehired
Teachers who are currently at schools slated to be closed, at Transformation schools, who hold one-year positions obtained through a forced placement, or whose status is an “R in pool” will be able to apply and interview for new vacancies through a ranked match process.
On May 21 (tentative) in the PCTA Field House, Principals will meet candidates for a “Match event” from 9 AM – 4 PM.
Teachers are encouraged to bring resumes and copies of two artifacts of teaching and will have the opportunity to discuss their qualifications with Principals.
At the end of the Match event, teachers may submit a ranked list of all jobs for which they are fully certified, and Principals may submit a ranked list of all certified candidates for each vacant position.
The Office of Human Resources will use the respective ranked lists to fill every vacancy for which an appropriately certified displaced teacher exists and notify teachers and Principals of assignments by May 26.
All remaining vacancies will be posted for Criterion Based Hiring (CBH). Teachers who do not receive assignments may participate in CBH for other positions in the district as
“I recognize how difficult the last two months have been for teachers, students, administrators, parents and for everyone who is a part of the Providence Public School community. We are hopeful that the Board’s ability to rescind letters of termination for the majority of teachers will bring peace of mind to many of the City’s hardworking educators. I am confident that this plan strikes the right balance between being fair to teachers and being fair to students.”
Statement from Superintendent Brady:
“This plan to rescind teacher dismissal notices is a first step toward returning a sense of stability to our school communities. It keeps student need, rather than teacher seniority, at the forefront, yet recognizes the dedication and talent of the majority of our existing teaching staff. Through difficult times, we as adults who shape the lives of children owe it to them to work together to transform Providence Schools into the best educational system possible for our children.”
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