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Circular 6 arbitration settlement creates new opportunity for teachers

A recent arbitration settlement both protects members’ contractual rights and will create a new opportunity for high school teachers to work on targeted credit recovery in lieu of their Circular 6 professional activity.

The UFT filed a grievance in response to a contract violation at Tottenville HS on Staten Island, where teachers were being assigned to work on credit recovery programs with students during their professional activity periods.

The UFT-Department of Education contract provides a menu of options for professional activity periods. Credit recovery is not a professional activity because credit recovery is a teaching period and the UFT-DOE contract stipulates that professional activities cannot be additional teaching periods.

The grievance settlement confirms that principals cannot assign teachers to credit recovery including iLearnNYC and similar programs during their professional activity periods. As part of the settlement, Tottenville teachers were compensated for the Circular 6 assignments.

“This win for them is huge,” said Tottenville Chapter Leader Jessica Peterson. “Some of our teachers were thrown into a classroom to teach a sixth class for an entire year and had to learn a program they’d never seen before in their lives. There was a lot of anxiety. We’re elated and relieved to hear that it’s resolved.”

Ellen Gallin-Procida, the director of the UFT’s grievance department, noted that during the course of the grievance proceedings both the UFT and the DOE realized there was an opportunity to collaborate on a way for more students to receive targeted credit recovery during the school day without violating the contract. The two sides agreed on a posting for a teaching position for targeted credit recovery (excluding iLearnNYC and similar programs) that would serve as a substitution for a Circular 6 assignment.

The arbitration settlement stipulates, consistent with state regulation and DOE policy, that schools can make credit recovery programs available to students “who, having attended at least two-thirds of a course, failed that particular course and are seeking credit recovery within two terms.”

As per the settlement, in lieu of their professional activity period, teachers can apply to work with no more than eight students per school year in the subject area in which they are licensed to teach to “provide targeted, intensive assistance.” The teacher’s responsibility is to meet with the students on an as-needed basis to “interact with the student, monitor the student’s progress, ensure that the student has mastered the content and award a grade.”

“In resolving our grievance, we protected our members’ contractual rights and also did something really good for kids,” Gallin-Procida said.

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