Human Resources has informed SPFT that principals will communicate probationary teacher non-renewals and building position cuts on Friday 4/27. Learning about a non-renewal or position cut can be both stressful and confusing. Here is some basic information that you can share with colleagues who have questions:
Members of the teacher bargaining unit who have not yet completed their three year probationary period could receive a notice of non-renewal. The district does not have to provide any reason for the non-renewal. In practice, teachers who receive non-renewal notices have typically been made aware of performance concerns during the course of the school year by their principals.
The district is not required to provide any due process recourse to non-renewed teachers who disagree with their non-renewal. However, in previous years, SPPS has offered optional meetings with an assistant superintendent for teachers who would like to appeal their non-renewal. SPFT stewards and staff do not typically attend these meetings but we do encourage teachers with concerns to schedule an appeal meeting so that they can raise their concerns with administration.
In some cases, these meetings have led to non-renewal decisions being overturned. Teachers can prepare for these appeal meetings by bringing along copies of their SETs and writing up a short (1-2 page) statement outlining the main points they want to make in their meeting with the assistant superintendent.
There are two circumstances where non-renewed probationary teachers should contact the union office:
- If the teacher believes that they are actually tenured (have completed at least 120 student contact days in three consecutive school years for SPPS) and have been non-renewed in error, they may be eligible for a hearing to contest their termination. Members of SPFT may be eligible for legal assistance from the union at this hearing.
- If the teacher believes that their non-renewal is an illegal termination (due to evidence of employment discrimination, for example) there may be other recourse to challenge the termination or seek compensation. Members of SPFT may also be eligible for legal assistance or help with a legal referral for in that situation.
Probationary teachers non-renewed for performance reasons are not typically rehired by SPPS and are not eligible to apply for other district teaching positions through the Interview and Selection process.
Teachers, EAs and SCSPs may receive letters stating that their position has been cut for the 2018-19 school year. This does not necessarily mean that the employee is being laid off. Layoffs, if they are necessary in any employee group, will be communicated at a later date.
In previous years, layoff notices have gone out prior to Memorial Day Weekend for members of the teacher bargaining group and as late as June for members of the EA and SCSP groups. This year’s timeline for communicating layoffs has not yet been shared with SPFT.
Employees receiving a position cut notice should do several things:
- Don’t panic. Many people receiving cut notices will still have a job next year in SPPS. Non-probationary staff in the teacher, EA, and SCSP groups all have seniority rights that govern placements in position cut situations. HR reviews the total number of available positions and the applicable contract language before issuing layoff notices later in the spring. In addition, the district budget and staffing allocations are always adjusted as the spring progresses. In some cases, this could lead to positions being reallocated to buildings and cuts being rescinded.
- Use the Interview and Selection Process. Teachers who have received a position cut letter will be placed, based on their seniority, through the Placement List in late June or July. However, most teachers displaced through a position cut will find their next position through the Interview and Selection process which runs from now through the third week in June. Probationary teachers may also use the Interview and Selection process if they received a position cut notice (but not if they received a non-renewal notice).
- Teachers who receive position cut notices should call the union office if they believe they were cut from the building or program out of seniority order. The teacher contract requires staff reductions in a building or program to take place by seniority within the affected license area. All teachers working under the affected license in the building or program must be considered, including teachers on special assignment such as coaches.