New School Personnel Policy Would End Seniority-Based Placements

Teacher assignments to be based on student needs first.

The School Committee took a step toward abolishing the "job fair" approach to filling teaching spots with the first reading of a new "personnel assignment policy" at a meeting Tuesday night.

"This has the potential to modify that whole program," said School Committee chair David Green. In the job fair, teachers and support staff bid on open positions, the job going to the bidder with the greatest seniority. 

"The BEP [basic education plan] requires us to use student outcomes and needs as the primary determination" in filling teaching positions, Green said. The new policy doesn't mean seniority wouldn't be used in placements, only that it would no longer be the determining factor.

The BEP was revised in 2009 to include that change, but districts were not required to adopt the change until they negotiated a new teacher contract. For East Greenwich, the contract was originally due to be renewed in 2012, but the union gained a year's extension after the School Committee failed to file the necessary paperwork. It is now up in August.

The important new language in the policy is this:

"It is the policy of the East Greenwich School Committee that optimizing student learning shall be the primary criterion for all decision making regarding personnel recruitment, hiring, promotion, assignment and evaluation."

"This policy is significant," said Green. "Decisions by RIDE [the Rhode Island Department of Education] and the Board of Regents have the force of law."

EG Patch will be following up with the state and with the teachers union.

Lynn Krim December 19, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Now there's a novel idea. "Students needs first". I would have filed it under common sense years ago.
Leo December 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM
This policy, couched in such fine meaningless professional language ("optimizing student achievement") is simply going to open the doors wide for favoritism, nepotism and prejudice. Just wait and see.
Chuck Barton December 20, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Well, Leo - we will wait and see. This step builds on one the SC achieved in the 1990's when we ( I was on the SC then) negotiated a contract that specified that new hires were hired to a certification not to a general list. For example, if a new teacher was hired as a special ed teacher and he or she did not have seniority rights to a K-6 classroom position, even if certified to teach in a K-6 classroom. Previously someone hired to teach special ed joined the seniority list and had rights to any position for which he or she was certified. So, for example, EG had a school nurse taking a library media specialist based on seniority, without any evaluation of the currency of her credential in library or evaluating other candidates for the position. It has been a while since I was on the SC but it would be interesting to hear of any examples Leo has of favoritism, nepotism or prejudice in the hiring or promotion of professionals with in the system and why those criteria are any worse than seniority as a determining factor in promotion or hiring.


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