FAQ for UFT members employed in the DOE’s Division of Early Childhood Education
How do we know we are not excessed?
Employees of the DOE’s Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) are still employed by DECE, despite the excessing letter. As discussed on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and again on Thursday, Sept. 15, with the DOE present, the excessing letter means that you are in danger of being excessed or will be excessed. Nobody is in excess until their location code changes.
What policy will the DECE leadership adopt to select employees for reassignment? More specifically, what basis of considerations such as retention standing, total service with the agency, and length of time in a position or in the organization will be used for reassignments?
This is really a question for the DOE, but the UFT can say: If the job is not changing, then this is a simple excessing situation and the least senior instructional coordinators (ICs) and social workers will be excessed. Excessing seniority is based on total seniority with the DOE — not seniority in the position. If the job is changing, the DOE can post the new position and make selections based on the selection criteria on the posting.
As an ATR “continuing to report to early childhood,” do we continue to do our roles as early childhood social workers?
None of the instructional coordinators or social workers at DECE are ATRs. It is doubtful that anyone will become an ATR. Even if the reorganization happens, everyone will have the opportunity to either stay on or reapply at DECE, apply for one of the new positions that the DOE spoke about on Sept. 15, or if they prefer neither of those options, they will be placed in a school.
When will we get access to the Excess Staff Selection System (ESSS)?
The DOE said it was working on providing a list of vacancies as quickly as possible.
How many postings will be available for us to apply? How many positions will be available for social workers (for each posting)? Is there a job description for the position at the superintendent’s office? What will be expected of us?
The DOE said there will be five or six position options available to everyone, and the UFT expects to get drafts of those postings in the final week of September.
Will current DECE instructional coordinators and social workers have preference when applying to the new postings?
Yes, either preference or exclusive application rights.
Are we able to go into classrooms to observe and work with teachers to create a safe, nurturing, and predictable environment?
Can our tenure be granted by the current supervisor whom we’ve had for the last three years?
For those who have imminent tenure dates, the DOE has agreed to allow current supervisors to make tenure recommendations, regardless of whether or not someone’s supervisor changes before their tenure date.
With this excessing, can we stay in our current districts?
When a central employee is excessed, they have the right to return to their seniority district — that is the district at which they worked prior to taking their central position. According to the DOE, there will be a number of options that people can select from before they are sent back to schools in their districts, including working in superintendents’ offices. As mentioned above, we expect to have those job descriptions soon, but we expect there will be some choice with regard to work location in the event that someone chooses to work in a district office.
What is the breakdown of the remaining positions by borough?
We do not have that breakdown from the DOE.
Several of us are external hires, and our only DOE positions have been with the Division of Early Childhood Education. What does that mean for us?
In an excessing condition, we would need to have an agreement with the DOE regarding your seniority district.
Questions related to employees on leave
What are our rights if we are on a leave of absence?
On this point, there is a difference between the teachers’ contract (which covers instructional coordinators) and social workers. Teachers on a leave of absence have a right to return to their position — no time limit is established — as long as there has not been an excessing condition. Social workers have the right to “return within one year from leave to their assignment within the district, in accordance with their seniority.” What that means in essence is that social workers have the right to return to their position within a year as long as there isn’t an excessing condition.
Let’s say, in the end, that 80 people are excessed from each group. If a person is on leave, and they are among the 80 least senior people in that title, they would return to a state of excess. If they are not among the 80 least senior, then they would return to the instructional coordinator or Pre-K social worker position. If, on the other hand, everyone ends up being excessed, then people would return to an excessed condition. The union can argue, if this happens, that everyone should be given the same opportunities upon their return that active employees have.
Are people on leave eligible to apply for new positions even though the start date is likely to be during their leave?
Yes—if, in the end there is a new hiring process, you would be given the right to apply.
Can people on leave interview from home/virtually? If so, will we actually be given a fair chance at these positions given that we cannot start at the given start date? Will central or superintendent offices hire people who cannot start for a year?
We don’t yet have the details about an interview process, but we would certainly push for the DOE to allow virtual interviews in these cases, and it’s hard to imagine them denying that.
What happens to us if we are on leave and aren’t tenured? We do not want to be placed directly into the ATR pool due to the fact our job was eliminated while we were on leave and we had no choices available to us.
The DOE has agreed to allow your supervisor for these last few years to make tenure recommendations, at least in the case of people with imminent tenure dates.