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New operational issues process

New York Teacher

Whether it’s excessive paperwork, lack of basic instructional supplies or inadequate space, when issues arise that impede our work with students and need addressing, a timely resolution is of the essence.

Building on the success of the paperwork reduction process from the 2014 DOE-UFT contract, the new DOE-UFT contract uses the same process to facilitate a timely resolution for a much wider range of workplace issues that UFT-represented employees confront in their schools.

In the new streamlined process for reporting and resolving operational issues, the chapter leader can raise operational issues and violations of the systemwide standards with the principal at the school level on behalf of the chapter.

Chapter leaders are now empowered to bring the following issues to their principals: redundant or excessive paperwork, issues concerning the 35 minutes allocated each week for Other Professional Work, issues concerning school-based professional development, the lack of basic instructional supplies, the lack of curriculum aligned with state learning standards, and, for members of functional chapters, inadequate space and excessive workloads.

The chapter leader may bring the issue to the principal’s attention in a one-on-one meeting, a consultation committee gathering or via email. The chapter leader should fill out an online operational report that same day. The clock starts ticking from the moment the chapter leader raises the issue with the principal.

After five school days, if the issue has not been resolved, it may be escalated to the District Paperwork and Operational Committee, which includes both the UFT district representative and the district superintendent, or their designees. If an issue is not resolved at the district level at the district committee’s monthly meeting, it is escalated to the central committee, which is made up of equal numbers of UFT and DOE representatives.

The UFT can take any unresolved issues concerning paperwork, curriculum, professional development and basic instructional supplies to arbitration. Unresolved workload and space issues affecting functional chapter members can be escalated to the UFT president and the schools chancellor, or their designees, for resolution.

Safety issues at the school level

Last spring, as required by the 2018 contract, the DOE and the UFT created new systemwide standards for safety that incorporate existing rules and regulations on school safety, culture and climate. Among the standards is the requirement for a monthly school safety committee meeting, with minutes distributed within 48 hours; required professional development training for all school staff; and an enhanced school safety plan for each school.

The chapter leader can now raise safety standard violations at the school level using the operational issues process. Issues not resolved within five days at the school level can be escalated by the UFT district representative to a borough-based safety committee, which has an equal number of representatives appointed by the UFT and the DOE. If there is no resolution at the borough level, the issue is next escalated to the central committee and, finally, to the UFT president and the schools chancellor, or their designees.

If you have questions concerning a safety issue at your school, you can also contact your UFT district representative and your UFT borough safety liaison for assistance.