Yesterday, teachers in the D.C. Public Schools were to report to work for the new school year. Many, however, didn’t know where they were supposed to report.
That’s because, as of yesterday, dozens of teachers had yet to be placed.
According to the current contract, teachers are supposed to be informed whether there will be “excessed”—-that is, moved off the roster of their current school—-by the end of the school year. The school system is supposed to find them a new placement by July 31.
By July 31 this year, however, an estimated 700 teachers had been excessed and had yet to be placed. As of yesterday, 68 had still not been given placements.
Mafara Hobson, a DCPS spokesperson, says the delays have to do with an unusually large amount of flux in the teaching corps, due to the fact that 23 schools were closed and 27 more were placed into “restructuring” status under No Child Left Behind, which means drastic changes to such schools’ instructional staffs.
Under an agreement with the Washington Teachers’ Union, Hobson says, the deadline was moved back to Aug. 15. But as of that day—-last Friday—-219 teachers had still yet to be placed, according to DCPS; 530 had been sent placements last Tuesday and Wednesday, just ahead of the new deadline.
WTU President George Parker says there was no such agreement on his part, but that DCPS informed the union in mid-July that there was no way to have all the excessed teachers placed by the July 31 deadline. “We did not agree to a moveback of the deadline,” he says. “DCPS informed us that they would not be able to meet the deadline.”
Parker says that every excessed teacher will be placed in a new job, thanks to an agreement negotiated before the end of the school year. Rather than push back the deadline, he says, “they should have just increased their capacity.”
Earlier this week, the teachers still waiting for placements poured into the human resources department at DCPS headquarters on North Capitol Street trying to get their new assignments, says WTU General Vice President Nathan Saunders. Overflow rooms were set up to handle the activity, and the entire union field staff was on the scene to assist teachers, he says.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” Saunders says, calling it a “
wonton wanton violation of the collective bargaining agreement.”
Furthermore, Saunders says, teachers he’s dealt with were still being excessed well into the summer and as late as this week. “They don’t have their equipment; they don’t know where they’re going, they don’t know where to get their stuff.”
Hobson said this afternoon that HR employees were working with the remaining 68 teachers to find them their guaranteed placements. “It’s a rolling process,” she says.