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Q and A for Therapists on the Transition to Permanent Civil Service Status

Q & A for Therapists on the Transition to Permanent Civil Service Status

In September 2014, the Department of Education will start appointing physical and occupational therapists from the “eligible list.” This Q & A will help to explain the process:

1.       What is an “eligible list?”

An eligible list is a list prepared by the local civil service agency (in our case, the New York City Division of Citywide Administrative Services, “DCAS”) which lists in rank order the names of all persons who have passed the required civil service examination for the position to which an appointment is to be made.  After the list is established, DCAS will certify it to the Department of Education (DOE), a DCAS employer. The DOE will use the list to make appointments to the positions of Occupational Therapist-DOE and Physical Therapist-DOE. The DOE is required by law to make appointments only from this list.

2.       How does DCAS determine the ranking or order of persons who have passed the examination?

All therapists who passed the test received a score. The list number is based on the score the therapist received on the exam.  Because this is an education and experience exam, and therapists with 36 months or more of service were given maximum experience credit, therapists with 36 or more months of service have higher scores than those with less service. For people with similar levels of experience and therefore similar scores, DCAS will order names randomly based on an algorithm it will apply to those people’s social security numbers

3.       Will all therapists on the list be appointed ?

All currently employed therapists who have taken and passed the appropriate civil service examination will be appointed.

4.       Does it matter where my score places me on the eligible list?

As a practical matter, no. The DOE anticipates that it will exhaust the list and continue hiring therapists.

5.       Does my placement on the list affect any other contractual rights?

As a practical matter, no. According to our agreement with the DOE, all staff covered by the Nurses and Therapists contract maintain their existing seniority and continue to accrue seniority for on-the-job decisions in the same manner as provided for in the 2007-09 contract.

6.       Will my job duties change after I am appointed from the eligible list?

Appointment from the eligible list will not change your salary, work location or duties and responsibilities.

7.       I am currently serving as a senior therapist. Will my status change back to therapist once I am appointed from the list?

No. Under the new structure, senior therapists will become Level II therapists.  No additional action will be required on your part to secure Level II status. 

8.       The current practice is for therapists to advance to senior status after two years of service.  Will this continue under the new structure?

Yes. The DOE has agreed to continue this practice by promoting Level I occupational therapists and physical therapists to Level II upon completion of two years of service.

9.       Will I attain permanent civil service status upon my appointment from the eligible list?

Permanent appointments to positions in the competitive class require satisfactory completion of a probationary term under civil service rules. The requirement normally is for a one-year probationary period. We have successfully shortened that to three months for any therapist employed by the DOE for at least nine months prior to appointment. Your permanent status takes effect once the probationary period is completed.

10.   I have rendered satisfactory service as a DOE-employed therapist for many years.  Why do I have to complete a new probation period?

It is required by civil service law and the rules and regulations of DCAS, the local civil service agency. We successfully shortened it from a year to three months for anyone who has worked as a therapist for the DOE for at least nine months prior to appointment.

11.   How long is the new probation period?

Civil service law requires that every appointee serve a probationary period of some amount. According to DCAS rules and regulations, the probation period for the new therapist titles is one year. We have gotten you credit for up to nine months, effectively reducing the probationary period to three months.

This means that if you have been employed by the DOE as a therapist for at least nine months prior to appointment, your probationary period will last only three months.

12.   What protections do I have in the event I am disciplined or terminated during my probation period?

While we don’t expect that therapists who have rendered satisfactory service will be disciplined or terminated during their post-appointment probation period,  our agreement with the DOE provides that therapists who are disciplined, up to and including termination, will receive a “prompt and careful review” of the discipline. Upon request of the employee within a reasonable period of time, the discipline will first be reviewed by Suzanne Sanchez, the DOE’s Senior Director, Therapeutic Services.  If the matter is not resolved to the therapist’s satisfaction within 15 school days, the therapist may seek review by Lawrence Becker, the DOE’s Chief Executive Officer, Division of Human Resources.  In addition, termination decisions for unconstitutional or illegal reasons may be challenged in court.

14.   I was employed as a therapist by the DOE when the exam was offered, but I opted not to take the exam. Will I still be employed after the DOE makes appointments from the list?  If so, what rights do I have?

The DOE anticipates that it will continue to require the services of therapists who did not take the civil service exams after it has exhausted the civil service lists. Provisional appointments do not ripen into permanent appointments, no matter how long they exist. Provisional employees can be terminated at any time for any lawful reason. DCAS has indicated that it intends to offer the Occupational Therapist-DOE and Physical Therapist-DOE exams on an ongoing basis after the current list is exhausted. Once those exams are offered and successful candidates are certified to the DOE, the DOE must make appointments from the list according to civil service rules. The nine-month credit towards the probationary period will also apply for people who take the exam in the future. For this reason, it is imperative that provisional employees who did not take the exam in 2013 take the exam at the next available date.


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