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HES Consultation Committee Meeting Minutes: December 2015

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 9

Time: 4–5 p.m.
Location: 400 First Avenue, 5th floor, Manhattan

In attendance: Helen Kaufman, assistant superintendent; Cecilia Cortez, UFT HES chapter leader; Janet Palumbo Katz, Staten Island HES-related service teacher and UFT delegate; Donna Kafko, Brooklyn West HES-related services teacher and delegate; and note taker – Noel Lehrer, Brooklyn East HES-related services teacher and UFT delegate.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT AND APPROVAL CERTIFICATION (TRAC)

Ms. Cortez asked about TRAC because some HES teachers have complained about the length of  time it takes to get TRAC approved.

Ms. Kaufman explained that after a supervisor receives TRAC, it is checked against the teacher's timesheet. Next, it goes to Lynn Pasquariello, paraprofessional secretary, and then to Rosemary Kolb, HES supervisor, for approval. TRAC then goes to the central administration for approval. The teachers present at this meeting stated that it usually takes 10 days from submission to receiving their check. Ms. Kaufman said she will look into the job that each person does in an effort to streamline the process.

Ms. Cortez said that HES providers must submit TRAC by the fifth of the month, and suggested that TRAC should be approved at the same time, not two weeks later.

HES SUPERVISORS

Ms. Cortez stated that some members from Queens and Manhattan have complained about the behavior of some HES supervisors during visits to schools. These members believe that HES supervisors are trying to catch them doing something wrong. For example, one HES supervisor asked many people in a school if they knew where the hearing teacher was, and asked for that teacher's schedule. Things change quickly in a school, and room assignments change, so a schedule may not be posted where someone is working.

Ms. Cortez said that if an HES supervisor wants to informally observe an HES teacher, the supervisor should contact the teacher when the she arrives at the building. If the teacher is not in her scheduled location, the HES supervisor should call the teacher on her cell phone.

A suggestion was made that, perhaps, HES supervisors should be rated as are teachers and principals. This possibility is still open to discussion.

Ms. Kaufman said she will speak to the supervisors about this issue.

AUDIOLOGY

Committee on Special Education (CSE) 10 in Manhattan has not had an audiologist since the last audiologist retired.

Ms. Cortez asked when a new audiologist will be hired. Ms. Kaufman explained that, in the past, all audiologists were teachers and were hired on teacher lines. Ms. Kaufman said it is difficult to find audiologists with a teacher's license, and the DOE is discussing whether to hire audiologists on a different line.

Ms. Kaufman further stated that audiology is hiring a new staff member, and she believes he or she will be assigned to CSE 10. She will keep us posted.

Ms. Cortez has learned that audiologists will no longer be hired on teacher lines. Going forward, all audiologists hired by the DOE will be required to hold professional licenses in audiology. The UFT will represent these audiologists. The terms and conditions of employment of the audiologists will negotiated between the DOE and the UFT

TIME

Ms. Cortez asked for clarification about fractional absences. Staff may have up to 3 hours and 20 minutes fractional absences annually without being docked. Once accrued time is 3 hours and 21 minutes or more, a day is lost from CAR.

Ms. Kaufman made it clear that she is the person who approves early departure. Teachers may e-mail her directly for this approval. She also stressed that our work day is 6 hours and 50 minutes and we may not take lunch at the day's end.She said that this is an OSHA regulation and that she believed OSHA also required that lunch be taken during the first five hours of the work day. The contract also refers to duty-free lunch, which may not be taken at the day's end except when the classroom teacher is on a school trip.

[Ms. Cortez later learned that OSHA does not regulate lunch hours. The entitlement to a daily, duty-free lunch period for itinerant teachers is, however, set out in Article 7K2d(2) of the UFT contract.  According to this provision, “Resource teachers and itinerant teachers will be given daily, a duty-free lunch period of 50 minutes, or of such time as is equal to a period in the setting where they work, to be determined by the lunch period in the setting where the teacher serves on the particular day.”]

INFORMAL OBSERVATIONS

Ms. Cortez asked if an informal observation becomes "formal" if the teacher signs it. Ms. Kaufman said she will find out. 

[In researching this issue after the meeting, Ms. Cortez learned that the answer is "no." Under the satisfactory/unsatisfactory rating system, teachers must sign off on the observation report whether it is formal or informal. The difference is this: a formal observation requires a pre-observation conference where an informal observation does not. Both require a post-observation conference. Teachers have the right to request, in writing, a one-on-one lesson-specific, pre-observation conference. All teachers previously rated "U" are entitled to a one-on-one pre-observation conference. A formal observation may be a series of shorter visits or a full period.) 

JUNE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Location to be determined, although the Lexington School for the Deaf was mentioned as a possibility.

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