We are more than halfway through the school year. So much has happened since the fall and I am happy to share this newsletter with you to highlight our successes and update you on news related to our chapter. I also want to make sure that you know of a few upcoming UFT events.
I am proud of what we've accomplished so far. This year, we've had multiple professional learning opportunities to provide social workers with the Continuing Education credits they need. We've also helped psychologists obtain credits approved by the National Association of School Psychologists.
One of my goals is to continue to advocate for quality professional learning opportunities for you. I understand how important it is for clinicians to receive the training and assistance necessary to work with students. I look forward to offering you more opportunities next year. If you have any ideas, please email me at email@example.com.
This year has had its highs and lows in local, state and national politics, but the direction in Washington, we believe, will adversely affect our union, our students and our jobs. Our union is currently doing all it can to ensure that the protections and rights we have as social workers and psychologists still stand.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' agenda could irrevocably harm public education as we know it. A constitutional convention on the state level could also allow anti-union forces to destroy our pensions and benefits. I urge you to stay vigilant in this difficult political climate. It is our duty to ensure that our students continue to get the best free and appropriate public education possible with the support services that help them succeed academically.
Remember to check UFT.org and our chapter page regularly for news and updates. I also want to encourage you to sign up for the #PublicSchoolProud campaign so that we can show others that we support public education and we are still a strong part of the educational experience.
Last, I’d like to welcome Karen White, a social worker for the Committee on Special Education in the Bronx, as our newly-elected vice chapter leader.
Social Workers & Psychologists Chapter Leader
Our Clinical Professional Development Day
I thank all those who attended our 11th annual Clinician’s Professional Development Day at UFT headquarters in lower Manhattan on Jan. 20. More than 300 school social workers and psychologists attended to hone their skills and spend some time with their colleagues in a supportive environment. Many members who attended also expressed their gratitute for being able to obtain Continuing Education credits with the New York State Education Department. This conference provided much needed training on administering Vineland scales and there was very informative and timely information about the rise in biased incidents and the impact on our students in the context of the very challenging political climate that we are in.
Each attendee received a certificate of participation at the end of the conference and the event was a success.
For those of you who missed it, I look forward to seeing you at next year's PD day.
Register for the Spring Education Conference
The Spring Education Conference will be held on Saturday, May 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at West 53rd Street. There will be a morning town hall, breakfast, exhibits and a gala luncheon. The Rev. William Barber, the president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays civil rights protest, will receive the John Dewey Award. We hope you'll join us this year for great workshops on topics such as creating safe spaces at schools and building restorative practices.
New DOE policy for deferrals, recommendations
For those clinicians on school-based support teams, the Department of Education has implemented a new policy regarding consultation requirements before the clinician makes a recommendation for a central-based support team deferral or District 75 placement.
You do not need to pursue a consultation for anything other than a central-based support team deferral or a District 75 recommendations. Many of you have told me that you are being asked for consultations on less restrictive options such as recommendations for one-to-one paraprofessionals and for student placement in special classes in community schools.
A consultation for a central-based support team deferral or District 75 recommendation is just that: a consultation. You obtain the consultation and then you proceed as you see fit. I have been advising all clinicians, and DOE managers concur, that consultation recommendations are not directives.
The supervisor’s approval or disagreement is only advice; the IEP team determines recommendations for services.
After a consultation with a supervisor on a central-based support team deferral, if the supervisor refuses to certify the case in SESIS so it can proceed, please email the supervisor. Explain to the supervisor the reason the case should proceed and explain why some of the required documents that provide support for the recommendation may be missing. Please cc: me at firstname.lastname@example.org, in your correspondence with the supervisor.
Make sure you document the status of your cases in SESIS events.
Our 2nd annual School Social Work Conference
We had our 2nd annual School Social Work Conference on March 2 at UFT headquarters. More than 300 social workers attended, and it was a wonderful day of professional development and networking. Our collaboration with the Department of Education's Office of Counseling Support Services was also successful. It was great to see social workers receive awards sponsored by the DOE and I am glad the DOE recognizes our work.
The awards were given to, in alphabetical order: Narcisa Toledo Akay, Julie Beatrice, Eric Berg, Caryn Giaimo, Josephine Illarraza, Susan Farrell LaPlante, Nneka Njideka, Carla Finney Pratt and Caroline Rostant.
I want to extend a special thank-you to our partner, MPG Consulting LCSW PLLC, for offering social workers the opportunity to earn Continuing Education credits. For those social workers who missed this year's conference, I hope you'll join us next year.
Join the UFT's #PublicSchoolProud campaign
The UFT launched a new #PublicSchoolProud campaign, supported by a resolution passed at the Jan. 18 Delegate Assembly, to celebrate student achievement and all the wonderful opportunities public schools offer.
U.S. education secretary Betsy DeVos has made it clear that she has no use for public education, but we see the passion and promise that overflows in our schools each day. We must continue to protect the longevity of public education and our rights as professionals. We cannot allow DeVos to disparage and defund the public schools we have fought so long to protect.
Here are a few actions you can take to protect public education:
- Join the #PublicSchoolProud campaign to stay informed and learn how you can take action now to stand up for our public schools.
- Visit the UFT's Show Your Love for Public Schools webpage to learn more about how your school can organize a #PublicSchoolProud project or event and use the hashtag #PublicSchoolProud in your social media posts.
- Make sure your colleagues are signed up on UFT.org to receive relevant information and action alerts.
Our School Psychology Awareness Day
We held our first School Psychologist Awareness Day on Nov. 3, 2016 at UFT headquarters in Manhattan. It was truly a wonderful experience for all who attended. We were delighted to feature two workshops to help participants develop professional skills to better understand students’ learning needs and to support them when they face anxiety, stress and behavioral issues.
For those psychologists who couldn't attend, we missed you and hope to see you at our next event.
Assessment materials for clinicians
The UFT filed a union-initiated grievance to help obtain appropriate assessment materials for social workers and psychologists on school-based support teams. We have also filed a paperwork complaint to help advocate for efficient and up-to-date online scoring for assessments we perform.
If you do not have appropriate and up-to-date materials for your assessments, email your supervisor to request them and copy me on your correspondence. We will work to get you the behavioral, social/emotional, cognitive, vocational or academic assessments and materials you need.
The expertise and support we provide in addressing the mental health needs of our students is crucial to their success. School staff rely on us for consultation, guidance and support when dealing with students, and our work is invaluable. So, I will work hard to ensure you have all the materials you need.
We are also still addressing another serious issue: the lack of clinical supervision you experience all the time. Unfortunately, most of you tell me that your “supervision” is mostly administrative in nature and often limited to compliance, paperwork and a push to take on an unrealistic number of cases. I will continue to work on this with the DOE as will others here at the UFT. I will keep you updated on any progress we make.
School psychologists compliance issues
For school psychologists: As your contract with the city states, you are not solely responsible for compliance. No one in the DOE should make you "feel" that the burden of compliance is on your shoulders.
To ensure you are fulfilling your responsibilities with regard to compliance, please make sure that you:
- Keep a record of all students you've evaluated for the year in your monthly case management plan and add any students you anticipate on working with for the month.
- Complete a request for assistance (RFAs) if you anticipate any difficulty meeting compliance with cases in the upcoming month.
- Perform duties that are clinically appropriate and follow due process rules and procedures.
If you are following all these guidelines and are still experiencing issues, you can file a workload dispute and, possibly, a grievance.
If the compliance issue escalates, you may also be able to file a special complaint of harassment given substantiated evidence. If you have a U rating due to noncompliance, you must file a grievance immediately as well as file for a U rating appeal. The grievance can be filed by your school chapter leader, by me or at your UFT borough office. U rating appeal requests can also be made at the borough office.
Tenure: For recent hires
If you are a new clinician, I'd like to welcome you to the Social Workers and Psychologists Chapter. If you were hired after July 1, 2015, you are eligible for tenure four years after your hire date. (If you were hired before July 1, 2015, you are eligible for tenure three years after your hire date.)
If you are asked to do anything in particular to receive tenure such as develop a portfolio, please contact me and copy your school's chapter leader if you have one.
I'd like to extend a special congratulations to our Social Workers and Psychologists Chapter Liaison Don Albright.
Congratulations to our chapter liaison, Don Albright!
Don was honored on Nov. 6, 2016 on Teacher Union Day with the Albert Lee Smallheiser Award for his service to the union and members.
Teacher Union Day commemorates the 1960 strike that put the newly formed UFT on the path to being the activist organization it is today. It’s a day to honor the inspiring past leaders and celebrate the present leaders who continue in their footsteps. Thank you, Don, for all your hard work!
Claim your tax deductions before April 18
According to the IRS, eligible educators may deduct up to $250 of any unreimbursed expenses spent in 2016 for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials used in the classroom. Union dues are also eligible as a miscellaneous deduction. For more information about tax deductions for educators, please read our information item or see the IRS website.