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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Teachers and TENURE


Appointment and New York City licensure

When a New York City school permanently hires you to fill a vacancy you are “appointed” to that position. Your appointment must match your state certification by both subject and level.

As part of this appointment process the DOE automatically generates its own teaching license. This New York City license must match your New York State certificate subject area and, in addition, the grade level of your NYC teaching assignment. The NYC license specifies the area in which you will be considered for tenure decisions and accrue seniority; the latter can be very important if there isexcessing in your school. While there are no more New York City paper licenses, there are still license/appointment areas, each with a different code. When you begin teaching, the DOE notifies you by personal email of your license/appointment area and includes the license code. Make sure that you are appointed in the subject area and division level (i.e. elementary, middle or high school) that matches your state certification.
You can only be appointed in an area that matches your state certificate. It can be a little confusing, however, as New York State certification often includes different grade ranges than those of a New York City license. For example, a New York State English or math or social studies certificate will state it is appropriate for grades 7-12 (middle and high schools). A New York City license, however, differentiates between high school and middle school, depending on your appointment.
Unfortunately, “out of license” teaching assignments are not unusual. Since some teaching positions are harder to fill than others, newer teachers are often assigned to teach out of their license areas, in a different level, subject area or both. While such “out of license” assignments don’t affect your salary, they could affect your ability to attain tenure and your right to keep your position if excessing occurs. Teachers who have taught “out of license” could find their probation period extended if the principal or superintendent thinks there is not enough experience in, or evidence of, effectiveness in the appointed license area.
If you believe your appointment, New York City license, or teaching assignment does not match your state certification, speak to your chapter leader at once. Your chapter leader can help you discuss this with your principal and get your program corrected as soon as possible. Or you can call your UFT borough office immediately and ask to speak to an educational liaison.
You can be appointed under only one license at a time, and your license area of appointment determines the area in which you will be granted tenure. Sometimes your certification permits you to be appointed under another license; however, if you agree to switch to a new appointment you are on probation again. In addition, if you switch to another license before you receive tenure in your first license you must serve probation in that license, and there may be other ramifications. Contact yourUFT borough office before you switch your license.
In any case, your salary does not change when your license changes. Be sure you check with your payroll secretary that your appointment date is correctly entered in the computer.

Probationary period

State law requires teachers and other staff to serve a four-year probationary period after being appointed to a position. During that time supervisors are supposed to observe you several times a year and evaluate you in areas including classroom management, lesson planning, presentation skills and how you use student data to help plan instruction.
Generally, at the end of four years of acceptable service, you will be entitled to due process rights under Section 3020a of the state Education Law, which governs the discipline and dismissal of tenured educators. This is commonly called acquiring tenure, but it is effectively the completion of your probationary period.
If the DOE intends to discontinue, that is, terminate, your service at any time prior to the completion of your probationary period you must be given 30 calendar days’ notice. If you are discontinued, call your UFT borough office. They will assign an advocate to assist you in fighting the termination.
Sometimes a principal will ask you to sign a document stating that you agree to an extension of your probationary period beyond the four years. If this occurs contact your chapter leader or your UFT borough office immediately so we can arrange, if necessary, for an attorney to review the document in order to protect your rights as a probationary educator.
There are two ways to reduce your probationary period:
  • If you worked satisfactorily as a regular substitute in the same license and in the same school level you can reduce the normal four-year probationary period by up to two years. This is called Jarema Credit and you should apply if you think you are eligible. The application form is online.
  • Another way is called "traveling tenure." If you received tenure in one license area and elect to take an appointment in a new license area or if you were tenured in another school district in New York State, you should apply to have your probationary period reduced to three years.
If you think you are eligible for either of these options, or have any questions, contact your UFT borough office.


Principals making tenure decisions use the DOE's Tenure Decision-making Framework as a guide.
The framework affects only teachers who are on probation, not teachers who already have tenure. It has no bearing on the rating system that administrators use for their annual review of all teachers.
Under New York State law, appointed educators achieve tenure after completing a probationary period and fulfilling all requirements for the professional certificate. In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area, which is why it is of utmost importance that your license code match the subject and level in which you are teaching.
Having tenure means you may not be disciplined or terminated without due process. As a tenured member you have the right to a hearing before an independent arbitrator regarding any charges brought against you. This due process right protects you from being fired for personal, arbitrary or political reasons.
As described above, the process for determining whether or not you will get tenure is rigorous, and tenure is not automatic at the end of the probationary period. You must:
  • Complete all your state certification and city licensing requirements, file an application and receive professional certification.
  • Have a record of acceptable service during your probationary period.
  • Be recommended for tenure by your principal.
In order to recommend you for tenure, your principal will use a framework developed by the DOE in 2010. He or she will rate you as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective in three categories:
  • Instructional practice, which can be measured by formal and informal classroom observations, your work products and annual reviews;
  • Professional contributions to your school and profession, which can be verified by feedback from students, parents and colleagues; your attendance and punctuality; and the work you do on school teams; and
  • Impact on student learning, or the gains your students make in meeting New York State standards as evidenced by their work, portfolios, passing rates and achievement on state exams.
Principals are encouraged to recommend highly effective and effective teachers for tenure. If you are rated a developing teacher, your principal may ask you to agree to extend your probationary period to a fifth year. In this case, you should contact your chapter leader or UFT representative to help ensure that your rights are being protected.

How can teachers prepare for their tenure decision? 

The UFT encourages teachers to be proactive in preparing for their tenure decision. Here are some steps you can take throughout your probationary period:
  • If your principal has not initiated a meeting about your tenure decision, ask for an appointment to find out where things stand and what is expected of you. Do this even if your tenure decision is a year or two away so you have time on your side.
  • Become familiar with the multiple sources of evidence for each factor that principals will use to prepare their tenure recommendations.
  • Put together a professional portfolio of your effectiveness as a teacher. Organize your portfolio with a table of contents to separate the various components. Include a cross-section of your work but be selective in choosing the materials to include. Add a brief explanation or context for each piece of evidence you include and be sure to show how you differentiate to accommodate children with diverse abilities.
  • Every spring the UFT offers workshops in our borough offices to help teachers prepare for tenure. Check the union newspaper, New York Teacher, and theUFT website for a schedule of tenure workshops.

Carmen Farina and Bill deBlasio Are Ultimately Accountable For The Grade Scandal and the Worthless Diplomas of Kids in NYC Public Schools

Of course Bill deBlasio, Carmen Farina, and all the Superintendents knew about "credit recovery",

The smoking guns of all the parents, teachers and others who cried into their emails about how children were pushed out of their schools with worthless grades and diplomas cannot be counted, but we must hold deBlasio and Farina accountable for the mess children who are and have attended public schools in NYC are now in.

The Renewal Schools Program is the next scandal.

Betsy Combier

Aimee Horowitz (second from right) with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen
FariƱa (left) at a meeting at one of the city’s “renewal schools” in March.

DOE official was informed of effort to graduate failing students

, NY POST, August 10, 2015
smoking-gun email obtained by The Post shows that a top city Department of Education official was informed about shady efforts to graduate 150 failing students through quickie online courses in apparent violation of DOE rules.
Cyndi Kerr, a director of “school renewal” under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $400 million plan to turn around 94 low-performing schools, was CC’d on a June 1 email in which a Flushing High School administrator said the flunking kids would be put in online classes to help them graduate.
It’s against DOE rules to have students to do “credit recovery” work while the classes they are failing are still in session, staffers said.
In the email, a Flushing administrator said the failing kids would be enrolled in Apex Learning online classes and a physical-education “boot camp.”
“Our benchmark of a 60 percent graduation rate in June is non-negotiable,” wrote Patricia Cuti, assistant principal for guidance. “Summer graduation is NOT an option.”
Cuti also ordered teachers and supervisors to “develop a plan” to get them to pass.
Teachers said they had to create last-minute assignments, such as book reports, for students who had done little or no work all year. They said they felt pressured to pass the students.
A veteran educator said the email was evidence that Kerr — who reports to Aimee Horowitz, executive superintendent of de Blasio’s School Renewal Program — had “full knowledge” of what was going on at Flushing High School.
“This is the first email made public that directly ties Aimee Horowitz and the Renewal hierarchy to a policy of teacher coercion and grade fixing,’’ the educator said.
“This email proves that the higher-ups at the DOE’s Renewal Program were informed of a quota system at one of their Renewal schools. Did [Kerr] question this policy? Did she ask, ‘What are you doing here?’?”
DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield wouldn’t say what Kerr did after receiving the email but insisted that officials are “reviewing transcripts, credit accumulation and course registration practices at Flushing, and we will take all necessary steps to ensure the integrity of our policies.”
Kerr, who oversees Queens high schools in the Renewal Program, refused comment.

FIGHTING BACK: The Sex Slander Case of Chantay Sewell v Middle School Dean Philippe Bernardin Will Continue, Says 2nd Circuit Judge Robert Sack

The 2nd Circuit rules that the case should continue as a case of "first impression" on the two-year statute of limitations in a hacking/cyber-bullying case.

Circuit Revives Lawsuit Over Hacked Facebook Account

NY Law Journal

A woman who claims her ex-boyfriend altered her Facebook account and then posted malicious statements about her sexual activities has had her lawsuit revived by a federal appeals court.
Chantay Sewell's case against former boyfriend Phil Bernardin had been thrown out on statute of limitations grounds by Eastern District Judge Arthur Spatt.

School dean spread sex slander against ex-mistress: lawsuit

The married dean of a Queens public school is being accused in a lawsuit of stealing a female colleague’s online identity after she dumped him — using it to sexually shame her on the Internet.
Chantay Sewell, 39, filed the $350,000 federal suit against Robert Van Wyck Middle School Dean Philippe Bernardin — who once appeared on “Sesame Street” — for allegedly sending the ugly messages from her accounts.
“It was horrific,” Sewell said. “He’s a bully. No one should have to go through what I went through and I just feel like I had to stand up for myself.”
The suave part-time actor — whose page also lists the soap opera “One Life to Live” as a credit — allegedly began a relationship with Sewell at the Jamaica school after telling her his marriage was broken, the suit claims.
But shortly after Sewell severed the relationship, the educator began a campaign of cyber-defamation, according to the suit filed by her attorney, Harvey Mars.
“Bernardin used Sewell’s Internet accounts to publicly post private information about her and to communicate with third parties while posing as Sewell,” the suit states.
In August 2011, Bernardin, 42, sent an e-mail message to her contacts list that “contained malicious statements toward Sewell regarding certain sexually transmitted diseases and sexual activities,” the suit states.
In March 2012, he used Sewell’s Facebook account to broadcast a message to her circle of friends and family that also contained sexual smears, according to court papers.
Sewell obtained the IP addresses linked to the defamatory posts — and found that they were allegedly coming from a computer belonging to Bernardin’s wife, according to the suit.
Bernardin, of Floral Park, declined to comment on the suit.
Facebook Hijacking Case Revived by 2nd Circuit
  MANHATTAN (CN) - In a case involving sex, cyberbullying and the statute of limitations, a schoolteacher filed her lawsuit just in time to accuse of her ex-boyfriend of taking over her Facebook account to post obscene messages, the Second Circuit ruled on Tuesday.
     The court warned in its opinion that the case demonstrates the "troubling" predicament of victims of hacking who are unable to learn the identity of their attackers within two years.
     Last year, schoolteacher Chantay Sewell filed a $350,000 lawsuit accusing her ex-boyfriend Phil Bernardin of hacking into her AOL and Facebook accounts to barrage her friends and family with sexually explicit slander.
     The Brooklyn Federal Court case bore all the hallmarks of salacious tabloid fodder.
     The New York Post reported that the defendant, Phil Bernardin, was a dean of a Queens public school with a lengthy acting career that boasted a credit on "Sesame Street," and court papers accused him of sending "malicious statements" to Sewell's loved ones about her supposed "sexually transmitted diseases and sexual activities."
     Beneath the surface, a more arcane legal dispute brewed that would create a new precedent of interpreting the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Stored Communications Act.
     Both laws have a two-year statute of limitations.
     Sewell said she tried to trace the electronic fingerprints of her intruder after finding she was locked out of her AOL account on Aug. 1, 2011, and again when she noticed a password change on her Facebook account on Feb. 24, 2012.
     Her lawyer Harvey Mars said in a phone interview that she sought the identities through a subpoena of Verizon Internet records.
     Sewell easily met the two-year window in her lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend's wife Tara Bernardin in early 2013.
     While that case ended in a settlement, Sewell's separate lawsuit against Phil Bernardin hit a bump with U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt, who ruled last year that she filed the case too late.
     On Tuesday, the Second Circuit agreed this was true as to the AOL accounts, but not the later Facebook intrusion.
     Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Robert Sack acknowledged that the laws' speedy statute of limitations could present "troubling consequences in some situations."
     "Even after a prospective plaintiff discovers that an account has been hacked, the investigation necessary to uncover the hacker's identity may be substantial," the opinion stated. "In many cases, we suspect that it might take more than two years. But it would appear that if a plaintiff cannot discover the hacker's identity within two years of the date she discovers the damage or violation, her claims under the CFAA and SCA will be untimely."
     Sewell's lawyer Mars called this window a "very draconian time frame" in a phone interview.
     "Two years is a very, very short amount of time," he said. "If they are unaware of who the hacker is, they still have to initiate a lawsuit."
     Still, Mars said that he and his client were "ecstatic" that the appellate court treated the intrusions separately.
     "What I'm happy about is that the Second Circuit, within those constraints, applied it in a liberal way," he said.
     In his ruling, Sack called the statute of limitation issues involved in the case a "matter of first impression in this circuit."
     Echoing this, Mars noted that his client's lawsuit is "a leading case now."
     Bernardin's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.