UFT blasts re-staffing of out-of-time schools

September 12, 2016 

Michael Mulgrew

By Linda Ocasio
New York Teacher Issue

New York, NY – The UFT sharply criticized state regulations that left the Department of Education little choice but to re-staff six schools that have been deemed “out of time” by the state because they failed to substantively improve after three or more years of intensive support.

Staff at all six schools had to reapply for their positions for the 2016–17 school year; 245 out of 454 teachers were retained. The DOE released the information about the re-staffing on July 15.

“Mandated re-staffing of out-of-time schools misdiagnoses the real problem,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. He cited a UFT review of staff turnover at the out-of-time schools that found staff members were already leaving in droves because of poorly managed schools that lacked the necessary resources to make significant changes in student performance.

“These schools need good leadership, support and stability, not another spin of the revolving door,” he said.

Teachers and other staff had to reapply for their positions at Banana Kelly HS, Fordham Leadership Academy, Lehman HS and JHS 80, all in the Bronx, and John Adams and August Martin high schools in Queens. Banana Kelly has had most of its staff replaced twice in the last five years.

Two other out-of-time schools, Boys and Girls HS and Automotive HS in Brooklyn, went through the re-staffing process a year ago. No schools are expected to be up for re-staffing this year.

The UFT review found nearly two-thirds of educators working in the eight out-of-time schools in 2010 had voluntarily left by 2015. Nearly half transferred to other New York City public schools; another 23 percent retired; and 21 percent left for different school systems or different careers.

Critics say the state is not giving the out-of-time schools enough time to turn around. John Adams HS and Fordham Leadership Academy, both part of the city’s School Renewal Program, showed improvements in teacher retention and other benchmarks, according to a UFT analysis of DOE data, but neither was spared the re-staffing mandate.

The UFT has called for more effective strategies to stabilize the out-of-time schools, including hiring administrators who have experience collaborating with teachers and who have had success with high-needs students; limiting the entry of “over-the-counter” students who come from other school systems, countries or correctional institutions and often require intensive services; providing instruction and curriculum tailored to the specific needs of the students; and delivering a range of mental and physical health services, a linchpin of the community school model.

September 11, 2016

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