We fill the communication gap between representative/lawyer and client by working on a set-fee basis, not an hourly rate, and by giving unlimited time to research and to discuss the facts and issues. Our goal is to assure each client that he or she has someone in their corner at all times and that the arguments presented are accurate and comprehensive. We keep all parties on the same page.

That's what Due Process Advocacy is all about: preserving the right to be heard and to have relevant facts considered.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Aaron Carr: Landlords Lie on Applications To Side-step Rent-Stabilization Laws

From Aaron Carr:
"At its core, the story is less about real estate fraud than it is about a broken enforcement system that has opened the floodgates for real estate corruption," Carr said.
Aaron Carr and his group Housing Rights Initiative are doing a great job looking into real estate corruption in New York City. Kudos to Mr. Carr!
Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz


NYC Landlords Often Lie To Get Building Permits, Watchdog Finds

The city approved more than 10,000 falsified permit applications in just two and a half years, a new analysis shows.

By Noah Manskar, Patch Staff |  
NEW YORK — New York City landlords routinely get away with lying on applications for construction projects that can push out vulnerable tenants, a watchdog group's analysis has found.
The Department of Buildings approved more than 10,000 work permit applications in two and a half years on which landlords stated the impacted building had no rent-regulated units when they in fact existed, according to the review the Housing Rights Initiative released Monday.
That suggests the city is sitting on its hands while developers skirt oversight rules meant to protect rent-stabilized tenants, said Aaron Carr, the group's executive director.
"At its core, the story is less about real estate fraud than it is about a broken enforcement system that has opened the floodgates for real estate corruption," Carr said.
The data indicates a violation reportedly committed by the Kushner Companies — the real-estate developer once led by senior Trump administration adviser Jared Kushner — is much more widespread.
Carr's group found this spring that the companies had falsified more than 80 permit applications across 34 buildings, violations for which the DOB has reportedly issued hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, he said.
City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) proposed legislation Monday to close what he called an "enforcement loophole" that lets developers such as the Kushners get away with these systemic falsifications.
"The city can no longer afford to stand by passively while developers like Kushner Companies (play) Russian roulette with the safety of New Yorkers living in affordable housing in periods of construction," Torres said during a news conference outside the Kushner Companies' Midtown headquarters.
The Housing Rights Initiative reviewed about 20,000 work permits from January 2016 to June 2018 and cross-checked them with rent-stabilization records kept by the Department of Finance to determine which ones contained falsifications.
The work permit application asks the building's owner whether there are any rent-regulated units there. Saying yes can lead to increased scrutiny from the city to protect against tenant harassment, Torres said.
But the Buildings and Finance departments don't share relevant information that could indicate the landlord is lying, Carr said. The city has also struggled to collect fines from the landlords it does catch making false statements, Torres said.
Torres plans to introduce legislation that would require the DOB to use Department of Finance data to check whether applications are being falsified.
The bill would also require that the DOB audit landlords caught lying and refer false statements to other authorities, including the state attorney general and local district attorney. Filing a false legal instrument is illegal under city and state laws, Torres said.
The DOB, though, said it can access rent-stabilization information regularly through a data-sharing deal with New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
The department noted the advocates' findings only encompassed 3 percent of all construction permits issued in the relevant time frame. The DOB said it works to determine whether proposed work is safe and that tenants are protected through its plan examinations and audits.
"(C)hecking the wrong box on a permit application does not mean that any improper work happened," the department said in a statement. "DOB thoroughly reviews and audits permit applications to protect residents, whether or not the landlord checks the rent-regulation box on our forms."
(Lead image: Aaron Carr, executive director of the Housing Rights Initiative, speaks at a news conference Monday in Midtown. Photo by Noah Manskar/Patch)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

From Editor Betsy Combier: The JANUS Decision and Teacher Unions

The abundance of opinions on the JANUS decision just shows what a hot topic this is. The only outcome that anyone can guarantee at this point is that Unions throughout the U.S. will change in some big or small way to earn/win/argue for members.

This is a good thing.

Why do I believe this is a good decision for unions and members?

First, change happens everywhere, in all companies, groups, and organizations and in relationships, both personal and interpersonal. When change does not happen for a very long time the ties that bind go stale. I think it was time to take a look at what unions across our vast country were doing for the members, and to examine closely whether or not the actions taken by the union top dogs earned the members' allegiance and dues money. Sadly, many union Presidents have forgotten the rank and file or allowed their inner circles to abandon the rule that members needed to be represented and their rights honored above all else. Political interests were permitted to become the collective voice before the collective voice of members uttered a word, or after. Dissention was scorned. This is not good.

I remember the 2016 election for United States' President when the United Federation of Teachers in New York City came out and urged members to vote for Hillary Clinton. OK, that's fine, if the opinion gives opposing opinions equal time. However the backlash we in NYC saw against any member who did not want to vote for Hillary was not OK. It became ugly, with hate-filled rants by UFT members about anyone who spoke up about disliking Hillary for any reason.
Second, the JANUS decision does not mean the end of unions but the beginning of a more considerate union movement which honors and respects the members, their rights, and their money.

How will the upcoming Janus Supreme Court case impact teachers in each state?
"At the center of the Janus case is whether public sector unions are legally allowed to collect "agency fees" from non-union members. Agency fees, also known as "fare-share" fees, are fees paid by non-union members to the union in order to cover the cost of collective bargaining on their behalf. Because union members and non-members alike stand to benefit from a contract the union negotiates, the theory goes, non-members should have to contribute something to the costs of collective bargaining. Janus challenges this logic, arguing that these fees violate non-members' First Amendment rights by requiring the monetary support (which counts as speech) of certain political stances taken by the union on teachers' behalf during collective bargaining, regardless of whether the teacher agrees with the stance."

UFT may have to dramatically slash $182M budget

NY POST Reporter Carl Campanile wrote about how a US Supreme Court decision for Mark Janus would affect the UFT:
"The belt-tightening may have already begun. The event was held at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway instead of the Hilton Westchester in Rye, NY, where the union typically holds its retreats.....
The UFT is a massive, far-flung enterprise with a $42 million payroll that includes more than 700 members paid to perform full-time or part-time union duties.
The payroll includes borough reps, district reps and 65 staffers each making more than $150,000. Mulgrew pulls in $283,000.
The UFT empire includes offices in all five boroughs and the lease of a building in Delray Beach, Fla., to serve thousands of retirees in the Sunshine State.
The budget also includes millions of dollars in spending to law firms and media and political consultants to advance the union’s collective-bargaining strategy and broader agenda. Millions more are spent on catered events, conventions and donations to allied groups, including the NAACP, New York Communities for Change and The Black Institute."

UFT President Michael Mulgrew

In New York City teachers are represented by the United Federation of Teachers or UFT, and in my opinion, change toward a more "members first" approach is both timely and needed. I used to work for the UFT, and while I loved my job as a Special Representative,  I knew that many members were not heard or helped, and this remains true today. That hurt. I left to do my own work to assist people crushed by malice, unfairness and/or discrimination.

I hope that the coming changes will lead to stronger unions who value members' rights above all else and therefore earn the loyalty, rather than take it in order to support political campaigns and expensive hotel accommodations.

Let's see what happens. I am hopeful that a new look at the rights of members to pay dues will bring union bigs to once again listen to the voices of those for whom unions were created, and not just pretend to hear what rank and file members want.

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com

Arizona teachers protested in April in a statewide walkout, one of several this year. The walkout movement offered a glimmer of hope for teachers’ unions, which lost the right to collect agency fees.CreditMatt York/Associated Press

What the Janus Decision Means for Teacher Unions
By Dana Goldstein and Erica L. Green, New York Times, June 27, 2018

It has been months of whiplash for teachers unions. The nation’s highest court decided on Wednesday that they, and other public sector unions, can no longer collect agency fees, which are currently mandatory in 22 states.
The ruling came down after the unions racked up a series of victories early this year, taking part in teacher walkouts in six states and winning raises and new education dollars from conservative lawmakers.
Now, teachers unions could lose up to a third of their members and funding as a result of the decision, labor experts say, some of the same money that fueled the walkouts.
“Members and money are power in politics,” said Terry Moe, a Stanford political science professor who has written critically of the unions. “This will weaken the teachers unions nationwide as a political force.”
The walkout movement began in West Virginia, where agency fees are already outlawed, and was largely driven by rank-and-file teachers, not union leaders. While union members pay dues, agency fees cover the costs of representing nonmember teachers in contract negotiations and disputes with management.
The decision in the Supreme Court case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, “will affect us, because it’s going to hurt the national” unions that provided crucial support, said Jay O’Neal, a West Virginia teacher and a leader of the protests.
States with agency fees and public sector collective bargaining, he said, tend to have higher teacher salaries and school funding than right-to-work states like West Virginia and the others where teachers went on strike.
Nonmembers can already opt out of paying for political lobbying. But because unions engage in politics even at the bargaining table, on issues such as how public dollars are spent on salaries and benefits, five of the court’s justices said such fees violate workers’ free-speech rights, by forcing them to give money to organizations whose views they may not support.
Given the court’s conservative tilt, the two national teachers unions have considered the ruling all but a foregone conclusion for several years. They plan to reduce budgets and cut back on activities like conferences.
Public sector unions have been under attack for years. Several states, including Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, have passed laws aimed at weakening them, and membership has declined, even in places where unions continue to represent teachers and other public sector workers in contract negotiations.
About 70 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million public school teachers belong to a union or professional association, according to a 2015-16 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, down from 79 percent in the 1999-2000 school year.
Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, said that the Janus decision could mean a loss of up to 200,000 members: $28 million less in the organization’s $366 million budget.
The union is preparing a campaign to mitigate the fallout, in particular reaching out to younger teachers who do not have deep loyalties to organized labor.
“We know it will have an impact, and we know we will come back,” Ms. Eskelsen García said.
The National Education Association does not plan to curb its political activities, which are largely on behalf of Democrats and liberal groups. Among the union’s priorities is mobilizing teachers to vote in this year’s midterm elections, Ms. Eskelsen García said.
Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, said the Janus decision reversed a “fundamentally unjust” requirement that forced teachers to pay for the union’s political agenda.
“This restores teachers’ ability to say, ‘I will not support speech or political activity that I don’t agree with,’” he said.
For union allies stung by the court decision, the walkout movement offered a glimmer of hope. The protests occurred in states crippled by education funding cuts since the recession, and where unions are already weak and working without agency fees. Union affiliates in several of the states, including Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia, said they had signed up hundreds or even thousands of members since the movement began.
In Arizona, where the walkout prompted Republican lawmakers to give teachers a raise, the Arizona Education Association attracted 2,000 new members this year, compared with an average of 400 to 600 in previous years, the group’s president, Joe Thomas, said.
In many of the walkout states, the teachers who led the protests first gathered supporters on Facebook, sometimes with little help from union officials. But the state and national unions stepped in with organizing and lobbying muscle — and money — that sustained the movement as it grew. That support could wane if teachers in strong-union states like California or Illinois choose not to pay dues and fees.
Despite having worked together during the protests, some walkout leaders have little loyalty to unions. In Oklahoma, Alberto Morejon, a 25-year-old middle-school history teacher, started a Facebook group that pushed for the walkout. Many in the group were frustrated, he said, by union leaders whom they believed were not responsive to their concerns, and whom they felt were too quick to call off a nine-day labor action in Oklahoma in April.
“Teachers starting off, the salary is so low,” Mr. Morejon said. Foregoing union fees means “one less thing you have to pay for. A lot of younger teachers I know, they’re not joining because they need to save every dollar they can.”
recent survey of 1,000 traditional and charter school teachers across the country, commissioned by the advocacy group, Educators for Excellence, gave a preview of the challenges facing unions. While most of those surveyed said that working conditions would be worse without union representation, six out of 10 nonunion members currently paying agency fees said they would likely opt out after the ruling.
Anticipating the decision, some leaders have sought countermeasures. In April, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, where public sector unions remain powerful, signed a law freeing the unions from the legal requirement to represent workers who have not paid dues in disputes with management. Labor experts say this will likely encourage teachers to maintain their union membership. Other liberal states may follow.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation for Teachers, the other national teacher’s union, remained optimistic: Of 800,000 members in 18 states affected by the Janus decision, the group said it had secured more than 500,000 “recommitments” to retain membership since January. About 90 percent of the A.F.T.’s 1.8 million members are school educators.
The Trump administration and its conservative allies that funded Janus have made it easier to make the case for union membership, Ms. Weingarten said.
“These folks that have huge power over their lives have tried to cut school budgets, tried to hurt their health care, cut retirement benefits, privatize hospitals and schools, are now having the chutzpah to say, ‘Give up your union to get a quick raise,’” she said. “People are getting it big time, and are basically trying to stick with the union.”
Patrick Semmens, a spokesman for the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation, whose lawyer argued the Janus case, said the decision would not prevent union leaders from bargaining on behalf of its members. But it would expose whether they were in tune with their members’ best interests.
“It’ll mean that teachers can now hold union officials accountable,” Mr. Semmens said. “It allows them to say, ‘If you want my money, you have to earn it now.”’

JANUS AND TEACHER SALARIES: This week, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the closely-watched Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees case is likely to leave public educators feeling uneasy.
The ruling, a 5-4 split in favor of the plaintiff, Mark Janus, a child support employee at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, is expected to have a national impact on the wallets, power, and influence of unions. At a high-level, the case concerns whether public-sector employees who indirectly benefit from union representation must still pay union fees, even if they are not involved (or have no interest) in the union. (For more details, see this Vox explainer)
Today’s ruling will legally make all states “Right to Work,” meaning employees who choose to opt out of unions can no longer be forced to pay dues.
Traditionally, union leaders have justified forcing non-members to pay dues by noting how such employees indirectly benefit from union bargaining. For example, in New York City where union leader Michael Mulgrew recently negotiated the first paid parental leave agreement for teachers, all teachers — union members or not — have the right to take advantage of the new rule. In states where teachers have gone on strike over low teacher salaries, some teachers’ unions have been able to successfully negotiate higher pay.
It is unclear how the Janus ruling will make things easier or more difficult for unions in the future. But several organizations on the right and left are already weighing in, noting what this might mean for teacher unions in the future.
Read the court’s decision here.
Supreme Court’s Janus v AFSCME ruling will force unions to be more accountable: Teacher
Aaron Anthony Benner, Opinion contributor, Published 10:14 a.m. ET June 27, 2018

The decision affects 5 million workers. Time

Unions can be great for workers. But supporting workers’ rights isn’t political, and it doesn’t make you anti-union.
As a teacher in Minnesota, I didn’t have a choice about whether or not to pay the union that was supposed to represent me, and when my union ultimately failed to stand by my side during a dispute with my district, I had no choice but to continue paying it.
Fortunately for teachers and other public employees across the country, no government worker will be forced to pay a union just so they can keep their job moving forward. The Supreme Court has ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that requiring someone to pay a union violates the First Amendment’s protections of free speech and association.
It means that, if another teacher or public employee is let down by his or her union, that person doesn’t have to continue paying dues or fees if that’s not in his or her best interest. Or, if that person chooses not to belong to a union for any other reason, he or she could continue working anyway. In addition to being fair to workers who deserve the freedom to choose whether or not to pay a union, I believe this ruling will lead to unions that are more responsive and attentive to their members.
I come from a union family and was brought up, as many Americans are, believing that unions exist to protect their members. My father was a police officer; my mother was a factory worker. As a public school teacher, I belonged to a union for 15 years and always believed that the union would be there to fight for me if I ever had a problem with my employer.
When I finally needed my union — the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers — not only did it fail to defend me, it actively worked against me with my employer. And all the while, I had to keep paying.
It started in 2014, when Saint Paul Public Schools rolled out a new policy with the hope of lowering the suspensions of African American students. As an African American myself, I took issue with the idea that some behavior problems would be classified as cultural traits, and thereby excused, under this policy. The intent was good, but in practice, it was fraud, and I couldn’t sit by and watch my students be harmed.
After challenging the policy at a school board meeting, I was faced with multiple frivolous investigations, which I’m now challenging in court. My spotless teaching record was marred, and my union was nowhere to be found.
I eventually began speaking to the media about the destructive racial equity policy, bringing a spotlight to the district. Soon, I learned that my union — which I was still paying — was working with my employer to remove me. Ultimately, I chose to leave my teaching job in public schools, but I have continued educating students in the private sector as the ninth-grade dean of students and activities director at Cretin-Derham Hall High School.
In February, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME — a case from Illinois that challenged the precedent that public employees can be forced to pay a union in order to work — I joined other teachers on the courthouse steps to support plaintiff Mark Janus. I shared the story I’ve just outlined and how my experience changed my mind about unions and freedom.
I was surrounded by people rallying in favor of giving people a choice and voice when it comes to unionism, but there were also union protesters who tried to shout me down and block out the signs supporting Mark Janus. I and other speakers were dismissed as being anti-union and Republican. I’m neither. Supporting workers’ rights isn’t political, and it doesn’t make you anti-union.
I like unions and always have. I voluntarily belonged to one for many years, and my parents were both represented by unions that I believe served them well.
But I realized that not all unions work for their members like they should, and in those cases, members should have the ability to leave — and take their hard-earned money with them.
Fortunately, for public employees across the country, the Court has now ruled they have that right.

Aaron Anthony Benner has been a Minnesota educator for 21 years. He worked as a teacher in Saint Paul Public Schools and was a member of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers for 15 years. He is now the ninth-grade dean of students and activities director at Cretin-Derham Hall High School.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mayor DeBlasio Signs Into Law New Legislation Protecting Potential Victims From Sexual Harassment

NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio
From Betsy Combier, Editor, Advocatz.com:

Money and politics put men - and yes, women too - in the "I can do anything I want" frame of mind.

From the awareness that power means influence, a person's character drives what happens next.  After a person realizes that he/she is in a position of influencing the thoughts and actions of another person, what this person does with this power shows what this person's priorities are.

Character is defined as:  "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual".

Other Quotes  about character:
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

"Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

"Strong feelings do not necessarily make a strong character. The strength of a man is to be measured by the power of the feelings he subdues not by the power of those which subdue him."

"Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

New York City Council member Helen Rosenthal (here in an earlier press conference) called the bill package on sexual harassment reform “groundbreaking.” (Credit: William Alatriste, New York City Council/Flickr) 
New York City Passes Sweeping Sexual Harassment Reform Legislation
BY RACHEL KAUFMAN, Next City, MAY 10, 2018

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed into law a sweeping package of legislation that aims to strengthen protections against sexual harassment at work, the city council said in a release.
Councilmembers hailed the passage of the 11 laws, calling them the “most far reaching workplace sexual harassment legislation” in the country.
The series of laws makes sexual harassment training mandatory for city employees and all private firms with at least 15 employees. The laws also require the city to conduct climate surveys and risk assessments of every city agency and require agencies to report any sexual harassment complaints and outcomes.
The laws also extend the statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment claim to three years, require contractors for the city to disclose their sexual harassment policies and expand the Human Rights Law’s sexual harassment protections to all workers, even those who were previously exempt.
New York is not alone in updating its sexual harassment policies in light of the #MeToo movement. Chicago passed a series of laws earlier this year that also require subcontractors to have sexual harassment policies and mandate sexual harassment training for city employees, the Sun-Times reported. The policies came in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in the state’s capital and a mandate by the state government that municipalities update their sexual harassment policies. The state of Louisiana similarly adopted a law that requires state and local agencies to enact anti-sexual-harassment policies that mandate training and a process for handling complaints. A rule that would mandate that training for city employees in Philadelphia goes to voters May 15.
In New York, councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who sponsored two of the 11 bills, in a statement called the legislation “an incredible first step toward ending sexual harassment in New York City” and proof to victims of sexual harassment that the “city does have their back.”
“If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past days and months — it’s that we must ensure that all survivors of gender-based violence who come forward…will be believed, that the attacker will be investigated, and a just outcome will be reached,” said Rosenthal. “This requires a cultural sea change.”
Just last month the New York Post reported that more than 1,300 sexual harassment complaints were filed by city employees against their colleagues from 2013 to 2017, with 221 (or about one in six) being substantiated. The Department of Education topped the list in terms of numbers of complaints (471), but was nearly at the bottom in terms of the percentage of substantiated claims, at 1.5 percent. Mayor de Blasio blamed the statistic on a “hyper-complaint dynamic” at the agency.
“Any sincere reporting, whether it’s about sexual harassment or, you know, cheating on tests or anything, we take very, very seriously…and we have to investigate everything,” he said at a press conference, reported by the Post. “But it is a known fact that unfortunately there’s been a bit of a hyper-complaint dynamic sometimes for the wrong reasons. So I think that has inflated their numbers. We need to address that cultural reality within the DOE.” De Blasio later walked back his comments, saying that he wasn’t specifically referring to sexual harassment complaints.
Rachel Kaufman is a journalist covering transportation, sustainability, science and tech. Her writing has appeared in Inc.National Geographic NewsScientific American and more.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Getting Tenure

ADVOCATZ believes in tenure.

For the past 15 years we have been researching case law and attending as well as assisting at teacher tenure hearings (3020-a Arbitration), and we offer below some guidelines from the UFT on how to get tenure.

We recommend that each and every observation, email, meeting, letter, or notes given to you or sent to you be rebutted/responded to. We suggest that you carefully and honestly state facts, and drop incendiary items such as large type, insults, the use of derogatory terms, etc.

We can help you with that, just contact us at betsy@advocatz.com.

Grieve any harassment (Article 23), grieve U-ratings and Appeal any false APPR ratings. Don't be fearful of asserting your rights, these are stepping stones which must be done in order to defend your position later on.

When you get into a hearing, dont sit back and let your representative do whatever they want, partner with your representative, and make sure that they do what you want. You have the facts of the matter, you count. Don't be silent, but say what you want to say professionally.

What does that mean? Contact us.

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ.com
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

All you need to know about getting tenure
Gaining tenure is an important milestone for new teachers. Having tenure means you can’t be terminated without due process and you’re entitled to a hearing if the Department of Education takes disciplinary action that could lead to termination.
Teachers hired before July 1, 2015, generally serve a three-year probationary period. Teachers hired after July 1, 2015, are generally eligible for tenure at the end of their fourth year.
There are two ways to reduce your probationary period. If you worked as a regular substitute in the same license and at the same school level, you can reduce the normal probationary period by up to two years. This is called Jarema Credit, and you should apply if you think you are eligible. The application form is online. Another way to reduce your probationary period is called “traveling tenure.” If you received tenure in one license area and elect to take an appointment in a new license area or if you were tenured in another school district in New York State, you should apply to have your probationary period reduced by one year.
If you think you are eligible for either of these options, or have any questions, contact your UFT borough office.
There are many steps you can take to prepare for your tenure decision. First and foremost, you need to know your tenure date. To find it, check with your payroll secretary. You’ll want to be proactive in meeting with your principal in advance of your tenure decision to review your work.
In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area, which is why it is of utmost importance that your license code match the subject and level in which you are teaching.
Tenure isn’t automatically granted at the end of your probationary period. To be granted tenure, you must:
  • Be on track to complete all your state certification and city licensing requirements, file an application and receive professional certification;
  • have a record of acceptable service during your probationary period; and
  • be recommended for tenure by your principal.
Your tenure becomes permanent only after you complete all your certification requirements.
In preparing for tenure, you’ll want to keep records and documents that reflect on your performance, such as observation reports; notes or emails to and from your colleagues, mentor, supervisors and parents; and evidence of your professional contributions to your school. Add a brief explanation or context for each piece of evidence you include and be sure to show how you differentiate to accommodate children with diverse abilities.
If applicable, you can document the work you’ve done for your school community, such as clubs or student groups you advise or activities in which you’ve participated.
There are many ways you can organize this information. Some teachers choose to build tenure portfolios using binders organized into subsections where they store lesson plans, student work and assessments, observation reports, certificates from professional learning activities and other records.
Other teachers recommend digital record-keeping, using online resources to organize files. Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud are all services you can use to store your work.
If you are up for tenure and your principal asks you to agree to extend your probationary period, you should contact your chapter leader or a UFT representative to help ensure that your rights are protected.
The UFT offers tenure workshops in its borough offices. Check the UFT website’s events calendar for details.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) Under Education Law 3012-d and Subpart 30-3

The following resources provide relevant information and support to districts and BOCES about Annual Professional Performance Reviews under Education Law §3012-d and Subpart 30-3 of the Rules of the Board of Regents for the school years 2015-16 and beyond. 
APPR Statute, Regulations, and Guidance
The purpose of this guidance is to answer questions that educators, administrators, and community stakeholders may have about Education Law §3012-d and Subpart 30-3 of the Commissioner’s regulations.
The Student Learning Objectives (SLO) Guidance Document explains how New York State will assess the student learning growth of students in classrooms where there is no State assessment that can be used for a State-provided growth measure (sometimes called “non-tested subjects”). This resource will be helpful to district leaders as they implement the SLO process, a required component of the teacher evaluation system. 
Click the link above for the new Education Law §3012-d, which was added by Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2015. To access the statute, select “Laws” then “Laws of New York” from the top menu bar, enter “3012-d” in the search box and click on the second link, “Education Law § 3012-d.” 
At the June 2015 meeting of the Board of Regents, proposed amendments were adopted to amend Subpart 30-2 and add a new Subpart 30-3 to the Rules of the Board of Regents, which relates to annual professional performance reviews of classroom teachers and building principals, in order to implement Education Law §3012-d, as enacted by Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2015, Subparts D and E of Part EE.
These slides were presented to the Board of Regents along with this item as recommendations by the Department for the proposed regulation amendments. Please note, the red text throughout the slide deck represents changes made to the recommendations between the May 2015 and June 2015 Board of Regents meetings. The green text represents changes that were made to the recommendations during the June 2015 Board of Regents meeting.
The “Blue Memo” provides a summary of the regulations adopted by the Board of Regents to implement Education Law 3012-d.

Resources for Appealing State-Provided Growth Scores
Application to Challenge a State-Provided Growth Score (2014-15 School Year and Thereafter) 
At its September 2015 meeting, the Board of Regents amended Subparts 30-2 and 30-3 of the Rules of the Board of Regents to prescribe an appeals process for a teacher or principal who wishes to challenge their State-provided growth score, in certain limited circumstances for the 2014-15 school year and thereafter while the Department is reviewing the growth model to determine if any changes are needed. 
Teachers and principals who meet the criteria identified in the application and choose to challenge their State-provided shall submit an appeal to the Department, using the above linked application, within 20 days of receipt of their overall APPR rating.
This Frequently Asked Questions document has been created to answer common questions about who is eligible to challenge their State-provided growth score under the revised regulations, how to apply, what evidence should be submitted, etc.

Resources for the Design and Development of APPR Plans
The New York State Education Department is now accepting applications for qualifications for supplemental assessments and corresponding growth models and/or assessments for use with SLOs to be used by districts and BOCES in teacher and principal evaluations as part of their implementation of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system.
To implement the provisions of Education Law §3012-d relating to annual professional performance reviews of classroom teachers and building principals, the New York State Education Department, is soliciting applications for Teacher and Principal Practice Rubrics that will be used as part of teacher and principal evaluations. And, in limited circumstances, LEAs may apply for a variance to use a teacher and/or principal practice rubric other than those on the Approved List.
To implement the provisions of Education Law §3012-d relating to annual professional performance reviews of classroom teachers and building principals, the New York State Education Department (“NYSED” or “Department”), strongly encourages local educational agencies (LEAs) to select teacher and principal practice rubrics from the Department’s List of Approved Teacher and Principal Practice Rubrics (“Approved List”). In limited circumstances, however, LEAs may apply for a variance to use a teacher and/or principal practice rubric other than those on the Approved List.
The New York State Education Department is now accepting applications for qualifications for supplemental assessments and corresponding growth models and/or assessments for use with SLOs to be used by districts and BOCES in teacher and principal evaluations as part of their implementation of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system. 
Assessments will be added to the Approved List of Assessments to be used with SLOs and the Approved List of Supplemental Assessments to be used with Growth Models as they are approved.
The teacher and principal evaluation road maps are intended to help districts and BOCES navigate the decisions that need to be made in order to implement the new APPR system. The road maps are a summary of the regulations adopted by the Board of Regents to implement Education Law §3012-d.
Two sample APPR plans that are in compliance with Education Law §3012-d have been developed to support districts and BOCES in the design and development of their own APPR plans.
Evaluators and educators are encouraged to use this rubric to measure the quality of the information provided by educators on the NYS SLO Template. Please view the webinar "SLO 102 for Teachers" to see how to use the rubric with a sample SLO. This draft rubric was developed by a national SLO Work Group convened by the Reform Support Network (RSN) that includes representatives from many of the Race to the Top States, including New York State. The goal of the effort was to produce a rubric that multiple states can use to evaluate the quality of SLOs. The group examined a wide range of rubrics from school districts and states across the country, looking for strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences. The rubric that resulted from the efforts of the group uses one performance level -- meets expectations -- as the decision was made that an SLO should not be approved if it does not meet the expectations set forth in the rubric. This rubric has been updated to align with Education Law §3012-d.
The Student Learning Objective (SLO) template is the statewide form for teachers to use for writing their SLO(s).
School districts and BOCES are required to submit their completed APPR plans aligned with §3012-d into the SED Monitoring APPR portal. The Department reviews each APPR plan to determine if it rigorously complies with the Education Law and corresponding subpart of the Rules of the Board of Regents. APPR plans under Education Law §3012-d should be submitted through the SED Monitoring APPR portal. A template of the APPR form, as it appears in the SED Monitoring APPR portal, can be downloaded here.
The goal of these modules is to guide users through the twelve tasks in the updated SED Monitoring APPR portal and in their understanding of the APPR process under Education Law §3012-d, including:
  • The component pieces of the APPR plan for teachers and principals (requirements and options);
  • How to structure APPRs to support academic priorities and needs;
  • How to submit an APPR plan that meets requirements of law and regulations; and
  • How to use resources from NYSED to support the APPR process.
The Task by Task  SED Monitoring APPR Portal Guidance Document (APPR §3012-d) was created to be used as a guide for the field, specifically tailored and organized for completing an APPR plan under Education Law §3012-d in the SED Monitoring APPR portal.
An application to apply for a waiver is available on our Independent Evaluator Hardship Waiver page and on NYSED’s Application Business Portal at http://portal.nysed.gov. Please note: This application must be completed online through the NYSED’s Application Business Portal at http://portal.nysed.gov.
NYSED will continue to post school districts’ APPR plans as they become approved.

Waivers Pursuant to Education Law §3012-d
The applications for the Undue Burden and Rural/Single Building District Independent Evaluator Hardship waivers are available on NYSED’s Application Business Portal. Please note: This application must be completed online through the NYSED’s Application Business Portal and submitted by February 1st of the school year for which each waiver is sought.
An application to apply for the annual Student Assignment Hardship Waiver is available on NYSED’s Application Business Portal.  Please note: this waiver application must be completed and submitted online, beginning August 1, through NYSED’s Application Business Portal no later than October 15 of the school year for which the waiver is sought.

This slide deck outlines the reporting requirements under Education Law §3012-d, including the submission of transition scores and ratings.
This chart provides examples of Original and Transition Staff Evaluation data elements required under Education Law §3012-d aligned by component of the Annual Professional Performance Review plan.
These examples illustrate the submission of 2016-17 Staff Evaluation data for Original and Transition scores and ratings under Education Law §3012-d.
This memorandum provides an update on the following: 1. 2016-17 APPR Implementation Certification Form; 2. APPR data collection and reporting timelines and requirements; 3. APPR review and approval processes for 2017-18 school year material changes. 
This memorandum provides continuing information regarding several APPR data collection and reporting deadlines. A Frequently Asked Questions document has been created surrounding common questions about the data submission and the Statement of Confirmation of 2016-17 Staff Evaluation Rating Verification Report and has been included for your reference. The submission deadline for staff evaluation data is October 27, 2017*, and the deadline to submit the “Statement of Confirmation of 2016-17 Staff Evaluation Rating Verification Report” is November 17, 2017.
* Due to feedback we have received from districts, BOCES, and Regional Information Centers regarding issues with the software many districts and BOCES use to generate and submit their staff evaluation data, Level 2 will accept data for an additional week. The staff evaluation data submission deadline is October 27, however, the container will be open through November 3 to accept data from LEAs that are not able to complete their submission by October 27. Additionally, the 2016-17 Statement of Confirmation of Staff Evaluation Verification form will be due on November 17, 2017 instead of November 3.
This webinar is designed to provide helpful feedback to the field based on common issues we are seeing as districts/BOCES submit their APPR data for the October 27, 2017 deadline. Please note: Local level 1 data centers will require earlier due dates to allow sufficient time for processing. Several sample scenarios with illustrative data have been utilized to show appropriate steps in data submission.