Only in rare cases will a probationary teacher with serious performance issues end up blacklisted for life in Denver Public Schools.
The majority will be able to apply for future positions in the district after three years of demonstrated classroom success in another district or charter school.
While not spelled out in policy, the district practice was tweaked in a document reviewed by the board Thursday.
Probationary teachers whose contracts are not renewed now face three options: they are immediately eligible for rehire; permanently ineligible for rehire; or conditionally eligible for rehire.
“It’s never going to be perfect,” board member Happy Haynes said. “Some decisions…are hard decisions. I think our only responsibility is to really make it the very best we can, make it as fair and equitable and consistent as we possibly can.”
To make the determination of a teacher’s status, the school human resources representative will confer with the teacher’s supervisor (and, as appropriate, other employees) regarding the teacher’s eligibility for rehire upon the non-renewal of teacher’s probationary contract.
If a teacher is determined “ineligible for rehire” or “conditionally eligible for rehire,” that determination will be documented and shared with the employee by the supervisor or a human resources representative.
Teachers who are immediately eligible for rehire are employees who have voluntarily resigned, retired or lost their position because of a reduction in building, but remain in good standing. This also includes teachers whose probationary contracts have been non-renewed based on the match of that teacher’s skills or personality with that particular school’s program, mission or leadership vision, but don’t have documented performance issues.
Teachers who are permanently ineligible for rehire include those who have been involved in serious criminal misconduct or workplace misconduct, including behavior that causes or creates risk of harm to students or colleagues. It also includes significant issues of integrity, including theft or embezzlement, falsification of employee or student records and/or breaches of student or staff confidentiality requirements.
Those who are conditionally eligible for rehire – about 70-plus teachers fall in this category this year – must demonstrate improved performance for three consecutive years elsewhere before they try to return to DPS.
Under the tweaks to a document that summed up the practice, DPS supervisors are also reminded of their responsibility to check references, including the teacher’s current supervisor and past supervisor in DPS before extending a job offer.
The revisions to the controversial practice apply to the probationary teachers who were not renewed at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Board member Andrea Merida said she’d like to see a review panel in cases where the evaluative data is not consistent. The majority of the board, however, did not agree with the idea of a panel since the board has the ultimate say over non-renewal decisions. She cited a couple situations in which an instructional superintendent signed off on a non-renewal before even observing a teacher or in which a teacher who ended up blacklisted was never observed by an instructional superintendent.
Merida said she is still meeting with officials in human resources to advocate with teachers who got the boot.