|Action||Revise the Procedure for Adjusting Grievances|
|Comment Period||Ends 9/25/2013|
Virginia Professional Educators is the Commonwealth’s largest independent non-union teacher association. As such, we help classroom teachers in a multitude of ways. We help them improve their academic performance, we teach them to better manage student problems and disruptions, and we guide them through many employment problems. Sometimes this involves counseling a teacher who has received a poor evaluation or who has been recommended for dismissal.
When such unfortunate events happen, it is of the utmost importance that a teacher be given time to understand the recommendation that is being made about them, and that they be presented immediately with the evidence that supports that recommendation. Only then can they make an informed decision about what is happening to them and how to proceed. Yet the changes in timelines and deadlines in this new legislation seem counter-productive to that process, and likely to result in many more contested hearings and far fewer collegial agreements, solutions, or voluntary resignations.
It seems that teachers may be forced to make some decisions about how to respond, before even having seen all the evidence against them.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon that a teacher only finds out that there is a significant problem with his or her performance when they are handed their performance evaluation. But another change in the law (22.1-307 B) defines incompetency (i.e., grounds for dismissal) as simply “one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations.” So a situation is created in which a teacher could receive their first notice of unsatisfactory performance in an evaluation on one day, and then receive a termination notice on the next.
In such an expedited, seemingly rushed process, it is essential for both parties to have as much opportunity as possible for collecting documents, for full disclosure, and for consideration of non-confrontational options. This is in the best interest of both the School Board administrative staff and the classroom teacher.
For these reasons, VPE agrees with the recommendations and concerns expressed by Mr. William B. Reichhardt, counsel for the AFT. His public comments were submitted on 9/23/13. In those comments, Mr. Reichhardt offers several specific suggestions and observations that should be given due consideration.
Thank you for your time, for your public service, and for your consideration of these concerns.