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Chapter Leader UpdateChapter Leader Update for June 11, 2020

We will be sending this new streamlined version of the Chapter Leader Update every two weeks for the remainder of the school year.

The next Delegate Assembly is June 17

This Week's Focus

Final teacher ratings will not be issued this school year

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 7 issued an executive order that waives requirements for teacher evaluations for this school year. State law mandates that teachers be assessed using the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), which includes classroom observations and student performance data. Cuomo will not require the reviews for the 2019-20 school year, since the schools closed because of the pandemic. Teachers in the final year of the probationary period may receive tenure, upon recommendation of the superintendent, if they have received an Effective rating in previous years and would have qualified for tenure based on their performance in the 2019-20 school year. An extension of probation is still permitted where the DOE believes it is warranted. Similarly, nothing in the governor's executive order changes the DOE’s right to discontinue a probationary employee.

UFT applauds positive step in criminal justice reform as it holds a Day of Peace and Justice

UFT President Michael Mulgrew and New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta released a joint statement on June 9 in support of the passage of state criminal justice reform legislation in Albany. Thanking the governor and the state Legislature for working quickly to address calls for reform, the union leaders said the legislation represented a positive step forward, but “make no mistake, our work as a society is not done.” In a related show of solidarity, the UFT issued an invitation for members to participate in a Day of Peace and Justice on June 9, on the day that George Floyd was laid to rest in his hometown of Houston. UFT members answered the union’s call by wearing black, taking a knee and posting on social media in his memory. View the images on Facebook and Twitter and the photo gallery on the UFT website. As we grapple with a moment that has exposed the disturbing flaws in our democracy, let’s continue making our voices heard and let’s stand up for what is right.

Excessing guidance for chapter leaders

If you have members who are excessed from your school or work site, please ensure the excessing process proceeds according to agreed-upon protocols. Excessing is a job protection. When you are excessed, you lose your school position but you do not lose your job, your salary or your benefits. Excessing prevents layoffs. Excessing happens when there are more staff members in a given license at a school than there are positions in that license. The DOE-UFT contract, along with state law, governs all aspects of the excessing process for UFT members. Read this new Q&A on excessing for answers to the most commonly asked questions. If excessing occurs in a particular title or license, the person with the least number of years working for the DOE at a school or work site is excessed first. Chapter leaders will receive a seniority list to guide the order in which staff are excessed. The union has prepared a tool to help chapter leaders read the seniority list. Members in excess must register on the online Open Market Transfer System, and they may apply for any vacancies in their license area throughout the city or they may apply to any school regardless of whether a vacancy exists. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to your UFT district representative.

Ask five people in other states to tell their U.S. senator to pass the HEROES Act

State and local governments are incurring huge new costs as they seek to contain and treat the coronavirus and respond to the virus-induced spike in joblessness and related human needs. At the same time, governments are projecting sharply lower tax revenues. Public schools risk deep budget cuts and layoffs if the HEROES Act does not pass the U.S. Senate. Our two New York senators are on board, but we need U.S. senators in 19 other states to support this vital legislation. These senators need to hear from their constituents. Join our "High Five" action this week. Do you know five people who live in one of these states? Ask them to call their U.S. senator at 833-868-8109 or send this email to their U.S. senator. Our message to these senators: "We need more federal funding to maintain essential services and protect jobs in our states, our local communities and our public schools. Pass the HEROES Act now." 

SBO online voting has begun

If the members of your school chapter plan to initiate a school-based option (SBO) for the 2020-21 school year, you should now have the SBO voting list for vetting. The UFT will use Election Buddy, an online platform, to conduct online SBO voting this year. The UFT will set up your online election in Election Buddy once you return the vetted voting list with updated information, your approved ballots using the correct format and the suggested dates for your chapter’s vote. Please notify your chapter’s members of the date of the vote and let them know they will receive the ballot via email or text message. Voting is from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the chosen date. Once you have received your SBO vote results and the SBO modifications have been ratified with at least a 55% approval of voting members, notify your district representative. The district rep will then send you the link to the SBO certification and ratification form and a password to access it. See SBO guidance and sample ballots on the UFT website.

SBO process for out-of-classroom comp-time positions related to special ed

Before schools create any out-of-classroom special education compensatory-time positions, schools should first prioritize satisfying IEP mandates and maintaining special education compliance. The UFT will consider the approval of special education compensatory-time school-based options only if: a) your school is in compliance; b) there are no special education vacancies; and c) all student IEPs are implemented as written. You must provide a copy of the compensatory-time posting to your UFT district representative for review and approval. No compensatory-time position should include writing or approving IEPs for students the staff member does not serve. Comp-time duties may not include serving as the designated representative at IEP meetings where the purpose is to ensure particular recommendations or discourage IEP team members from freely expressing opinions on students’ needs. The Special Education Standard Operating Procedures Manual clearly states that these activities are not permitted. If you have questions concerning the SBO approval process for these positions, please contact your UFT district representative.

Work in progress

The UFT is working on the following issues with the DOE and other city, state and federal-level entities as appropriate:

  • A process for filing reorganization grievances
  • The many facets of the reopening of school buildings in September
  • School secretary tenure process
  • 2020-21 school calendar

You Should Know

  • UFT helps win COVID-19 death benefit for public employees: Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 30 signed into law a new accidental death benefit for public employees who have died since March 1 and were diagnosed with COVID-19 within 45 days of their last day at work. “The educators and public servants who died in this pandemic deserve this recognition, and it is fitting that we do all we can to make sure their families are cared for,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We saw an opportunity to help them and we pushed.” The new benefit provides the state or municipal employee’s statutory beneficiaries with 50% of the deceased member’s salary as an ongoing pension benefit and health insurance coverage for the surviving spouse for the rest of the spouse’s life (or until the spouse remarries) and to children up to age 26. As of June 4, 71 in-service UFT members have died of coronavirus-related complications. Read the news story about the new benefit on the UFT website.
  • UFT creates a working group on school safety: The safety of students and staff is the UFT’s first priority. The union has created a working group to review what we, as educators, may want changed, preserved or revised in terms of school safety. Chaired by UFT Vice President Janella Hinds and Health and Safety Director Jeff Povalitis, the group will review the effectiveness of current school safety operations, lines of communication between school communities and school safety/NYPD and questions about who is best suited to oversee school safety. The working group will draw on members from all boroughs and all divisions.
  • Centrally funded IEP teacher positions posted: Schools that received an allocation for centrally funded IEP teachers for the 2020-21 school year posted the positions on June 9. Chapter leaders may view the IEP teacher posting on the UFT website. The prior posting term limit has expired, so please note that approximately 60 schools will lose or gain IEP teacher positions. Those who are newly selected for the positions will receive training. In the near future, the borough and district breakdown of schools receiving IEP teacher allocations for 2020-21 will be shared with UFT district representatives and posted in the Teaching Students with Disabilities section of the UFT website.
  • Targeted literacy support for students with disabilities: The UFT urges teachers to recommend students with disabilities who are struggling with reading for summer school this year. Acknowledging that summer 2020 requires a different approach for students with disabilities, the DOE is offering targeted, direct literacy instruction to students with disabilities in grades 3–8 who are mandated or recommended for summer school. The goal of this additional service is to help students with foundational literacy skills and mitigate learning loss during the period of school closure. Literacy support will be provided by IEP teachers and other special education teachers who have been trained in Orton-Gillingham methodologies such as SPIRE or other explicit, evidence-based reading programs including Rewards and Lexia.
  • Clarification about the provision of ENL services in ICT settings: Students who are English language learners or multilingual learners may be assigned to integrated co-teaching classes. The question of who is qualified to provide Integrated English as a New Language services in an ICT setting often arises. General education/content area teachers who are also certified in English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) are permitted to deliver English as a new language (ENL) services to students with and without disabilities in ICT classes. However, a dually certified teacher in students with disabilities and ESOL may not provide ENL services. In ICT classes where the general education/content area teacher is not dually certified, and in non-bilingual special (self-contained) classes, integrated ENL services must be delivered by another teacher certified in ESOL. See the guidance on dually certified teachers for ESOL and special education and the guidance on special classes for ELLs and multilingual learners on the UFT website. Please let your UFT district representative know if any teachers who are dually certified in special education and in ESOL receive pressure to teach in ICT settings.
  • Submit questions and concerns about the Supreme Court's upcoming ruling on DACA: The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this month whether the Trump administration can end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Commonly known as “Dreamers” after the failed legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship, immigrants protected under DACA have been in the United States since they were children. Recipients went through extensive background screening to get two-year work permits and protection from deportation. The Trump administration in 2017 announced the end of the program, which resulted in legal challenges now before the Supreme Court. Those already enrolled still have protections and can renew their two-year permits, but no new applicants can join the program. The UFT stands with the UFT members and New York City public school students and their families who could face deportation if the court rules against them. Please use this DACA inquiry form if you are interested in up-to-date information about the upcoming Supreme Court ruling.
  • June 16 deadline for absentee ballot applications: The deadline to submit an application for an absentee ballot for the Tuesday, June 23 primary is fast approaching. An absentee ballot application must be postmarked by Tuesday, June 16. This year, those affected by COVID-19 or who fear contracting the virus may submit an absentee application. In New York City, the absentee ballot application is available online. Outside the five boroughs, you can call your county’s Board of Election to request an absentee ballot. You may also download, print and email or mail this absentee ballot application to the county board of elections where you are registered to vote. Once you receive your ballot, you must return it so it is postmarked no later than Tuesday, June 23, and received by the Board of Elections by Tuesday, June 30. See who the UFT endorsed in the June 23 primary on the UFT website. 
  • Early voting in Democratic primary begins on June 13: Early voting in Democratic primary begins on June 13: To minimize crowds on Tuesday, June 23, early voting for the state and federal primary elections runs from Saturday, June 13, to Sunday, June 21. If you plan to vote in person, the state Board of Elections says voters must wear face masks and practice social distancing at poll sites. For polling locations and times for New York City, see the early voting information page and find your poll site on the New York City Board of Elections website. For counties outside of New York City, see Nassau County, Rockland County, Orange County, Suffolk County and Westchester County for polling site information. If you need to vote in person on June 23, wear a face mask and consider going at off-peak times such as mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Mulgrew discusses HEROES Act with Sen. Schumer in UFT podcast: UFT President Michael Mulgrew and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer discuss what actions educators can take to advocate for the HEROES Act. The bipartisan bill, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in May, is now before the U.S. Senate. It would provide $1 trillion for state and local services including $100 billion for public schools at a time when the pandemic has blown a large hole in state and local budgets nationwide. You can listen to this podcast on your favorite streaming service.

Helpful Links

Testimony regarding remote learning and the impact of the coronavirus on the city’s schools 

Testimony regarding the development of a statewide blueprint to reimagine education in the new normal

New DOE guidance on report cards and promotion policy

Information for school secretaries regarding license requirements during the Covid-19 crisis

Information for school psychologists on how to conduct student assessments remotely

Information for school nurses on summer work and transfer plan

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