An independent arbitrator has ruled in a precedent-setting decision that the Department of Education improperly denied retention rights to a teacher for Regents scoring in June on the grounds that she had not participated in scoring Regents the previous January.
The ruling clarified what constitutes a per-session activity for Regents scoring retention rights. Regents scoring has only been a per-session activity since 2015.
“This is the type of arbitration where the UFT and the DOE held different interpretations of a contract provision,” said David Campbell, the director of the UFT’s Grievance Department. “We are pleased that the arbitrator agreed with our interpretation both because we believe it was correct and because it best protects teachers’ retention rights.”
Tabitha Auricchio, a teacher at PS 290 in Ridgewood, Queens, was denied retention rights to the June 2018 Regents scoring activity despite having scored Regents exams since 2015 and having received satisfactory ratings.
According to the DOE-UFT contract, “Teachers with at least two years of continuous satisfactory service in a particular activity shall have priority for retention in the same activity for the following school year.” Chancellor’s Regulation C-175 supports that contract provision.
The DOE maintained that Regents scoring is one per-session activity scheduled twice a year in January and June. Therefore, it argued that since Auricchio did not work the January 2018 Regents scoring activity, she could not claim retention for the June activity.
The UFT contended that January and June scoring are two separate and different per-session activities with unique and different postings and application periods, that neither posting mentions the other activity and that both allow for the claiming of retention rights. Contractually, retention rights can be claimed in only one activity during the per-session year. Because some Regents are not given in January or, if they are, fewer students take them, it would be difficult for teachers to get Regents scoring retention rights if January and June were considered one activity.
The arbitrator ruled that the activities are different and separate and that Auricchio was improperly denied the June 2018 position. He restored her retention rights and awarded her full back pay for the activity.
“I was very pleased,” said Auricchio, a teacher for 14 years. “The union’s grievance reps were there by my side through the whole process and were extremely knowledgeable about other cases for retention rights for Regents scoring.”