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School Counselors Chapter Newsletter - June 2022

I’d like to congratulate you on reaching the end of an especially difficult school year.

Despite resurgences of COVID-19, never-ending rule changes for schools and the new administration, our chapter has demonstrated tremendous support for our students during these challenging times.

At the end of May, the New York State Legislature passed a bill capping class sizes in New York City’s schools. Gov. Kathy Hochul has not signed it into law yet, but a cap on class sizes necessitates a caseload cap for school counselors. To maximize student outcomes, such as improved attendance, decreased disciplinary actions and increased graduation rates, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends striving for a caseload ratio of 250 to 1. If the class size cap proceeds, we hope to work with the city on implementing similar caps on caseloads for school counselors.

I’m also aware that many members felt stretched too thin this year. Many of you reported your supervisors asked you to take on a surplus of responsibilities unrelated to your work. This is unfair to both us and our students. As school counselors, we are used to collaborating with all members of our school communities, but this should not affect our central focus, to support students' success. As we head into contract negotiations with the city, one of our main priorities is to address the increased workload which prevents us from focusing on our role as the school counselor.

I’m extremely proud of the work you’ve done this year. As school counselors, we wear different hats and take on different roles to guide our students, especially those of us who work with students in Districts 75 or 79. This year, we all rose to the occasion, steadied the ship and kept our students safe.

If you have any questions, please email them to me at RThompson@uft.org. I will intermittently look at my email during the vacation. I hope you have a safe and restful summer.

In solidarity,

Rosemarie Thompson
School Counselors Chapter Leader


Gun violence

On June 11, the UFT joined the student-led NYC March for our Lives rally, a national day of action to protest gun violence. Several hundred of our members joined thousands in Brooklyn and marched over the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan.

Even as this was written, a gunman slaughtered three people in a Maryland factory, and injured others. On May 27, we witnessed the brutal murder of two teachers and 19 children in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Earlier that month, 10 people were mowed down in a Buffalo grocery store. Our nation has already experienced 250 mass shootings in 2022, according to media reports. And the year is not half over.

We cannot allow the normalization of this violence. While mental health issues are a problem here, we are not the only country with a mentally ill population. However, the U.S. is one of the only countries where 18-year-olds can legally purchase assault weapons.

School counselors have played a critical role in helping communities cope with the trauma of mass shootings, but our guidance is hardly a substitute for limiting access to these lethal weapons. I urge you to use your voice as an educator and advocate for sensible gun legislation. Please make sure to look after your own mental health as well.


Last work day for school counselors

The last day of school for school counselors is Thursday, June 30.


2022-23 DOE calendar

The DOE has published the calendar for the 2022-23 school year. You can view it online if you haven't already.


Open Market Transfer Plan

If you want a new opportunity, wish to work closer to home or have been placed in excess, the Open Market Transfer Plan gives you the chance to apply for a position at another school. You can view vacancies citywide and submit online applications on the DOE's website during the open market transfer period, from now until Sunday, Aug. 8. Under the plan, you can apply for any vacancy for which you are appropriately licensed. You can read the UFT's frequently-asked questions for more information about the Open Market Transfer Plan.


Excessing

 

When a school reduces the size of its faculty for any reason, staff in a particular title or license area may be excessed. Notification usually begins in June in preparation for the next school year or in January in preparation for the next term.  According to the UFT-DOE contract, you must be informed in writing by Wednesday, June 15, that you have been excessed.

If you have been notified, you must register on the Open Market System to provide updated contact information, access a list of current vacancies throughout the city and apply to any or all of them in your license area.

Effective summer 2021, the DOE will no longer place newly excessed staff in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool. If you do not find a position via Open Market, you will be placed in a school in their district. You will remain there until you transfer or leave the system.

For more information, you can read the UFT's frequently-asked questions about excessing.


Annual performance review for all school counselors

This year, we'll continue to be rated "S" or "U" in our evaluations. Your payroll secretary should access the EIS Web Rating Form System to update online rating forms for school counselors. These forms became available on Monday, June 13, to print and distribute. The EIS rating system will close on Thursday, June 30.

If you receive a "U" rating, you must contact your UFT borough office to file an appeal. You can find a list of phone numbers for all borough offices below.


Protecting personally identifiable information (PII) of students

As the end of the school year approaches, you may receive requests from individuals outside the DOE, such as elected officials or their offices, for personally identifiable information (PII) about students, including the names of students who are graduating. Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), such requests must not be honored unless you first obtain written consent from a parent or; if the student is age 18 or over, written consent must come from the student.

As a general reminder, you may not disclose student PII from education records to parties outside the DOE, unless you first obtain consent. PII includes a student’s name, OSIS number, contact information, and other information when linked or linkable to PII, such as grade level, grades, test scores, and graduation status. Exceptions do exist to this rule, but they are not universal. Please contact your principal before you proceed. You can share PII with other DOE employees, when necessary, for the DOE employees to perform their jobs.

Please consult Chancellor’s Regulation A-820 or your principal to learn more about rules for disclosing PII and obtaining consent. In addition, note that outside parties with whom PII generally cannot be shared without consent include:

  • New York Police Department (NYPD) employees;
  • School PTAs at your home school or another school;
  • Elected officials (lists of graduates cannot be disclosed without individual consent);
  • Labor union officials;
  • Vendors with whom the DOE has no agreement protecting the confidentiality and data security of education records.

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Screeners

The 2021-22 school year was the first year in which the DOE implemented screeners for social emotional learning (SEL). We don’t know as of yet what the DOE has planned for these screeners in the 2022-23 school year, but I want to take a moment to acknowledge the work our chapter has done for them.

As school counselors, you were key players in identifying which students to prioritize for counseling and check-ins. Some of you were designated as SEL leads and had additional work to implement. Those of you who were not still had to be vigilant when it came to prioritizing students for counseling. Thank you for your efforts to create a more socially and culturally responsive learning environment for our students.


College-Career Readiness counseling

This year, as part of a UFT-DOE collaboration, some high school counselors who have experience as college or career advisors were hired on a per‑session basis to assist seniors in one‑on‑one sessions. Every student making the transition out of high school had an opportunity to meet for hour‑long individual counseling sessions about the next steps – including college applications, financial aid and career paths.

There is currently no indication from the DOE that this program will continue in the 2022-23 school year. I would like to thank all counselors who participated in this program for the help they provided.


Save the Date: 19th annual School Counselors Conference

Our annual conference is a great opportunity to network with colleagues, listen to guest speakers and develop your skills as school counselors. Please take advantage of this exciting opportunity to participate. I will email members when registration opens, but please save the date.

Related Topics: Chapter News