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Re: Special Ed teacher qualifications & realignment


Subj:      Re: Special Ed teacher qualifications & realignment
Date:     8/9/2004 10:50:22 AM Central Daylight Time
From:     rtaylor@mpls.k12.mn.us (Ross Taylor)
Reply-to:     rtaylor@mpls.k12.mn.us
To:     Socialist2001@cs.com

Dear concerned citizens,

I have received many e-mails from you and other citizens concerning process for realigning teachers as required by the Teachers, Tenure Law and the Strand Decision. I do appreciate your messages because you tend to be strong supporters of the Minneapolis Schools and you want to keep the good things that we have going.

In your letters you tend to assume that the School Board has discretion that our Legal Counsel advises us we do not have.  In response to your letters, the School Board directed the Administration to explore the possibility of expanding administrative discretion for realignment of teachers.  The response of the Teachers’ Union to our request for greater discretion was that it was being asked to do something it cannot lawfully do.

The District’s Executive Director of Employee Relations, Ratwik, Rozak (outside legal counsel) and the District’s General Counsel all advise the Board to continue the current layoff procedures required by the Teachers’ Tenure Law and the Strand Decision.  We are advised that a legal challenge to these procedures would be easily defended.

Your messages tend to be in opposition to the current procedures.  I can see that the disruptions you report hurt excellent relationships that had been established in the schools.

Nevertheless, there is another side to the issue.  Last week a principal of a high-poverty school indicated to me that the realignment process prevented devastating layoffs in her school.  For every teacher that was “Stranded,” into a different field of licensure, a tenured teacher was continued.  Thus the Strand decision process contributed to stability of elementary-certified teachers in her school.

One of the most disturbing things to me about the present situation is that if teachers had seen it coming, they could have expunged from their records certifications that could have “Stranded” them.  At least, they will have a chance to do that for next year.

These are trying times in which we must all stick together.  For next year, we can work together to seek legislation that will both help our students and protect our teachers’ rights.  The enemies of public education are happy when public education stakeholders fight each other.  For the good of our students, we must not let that happen.

Sincerely,

Ross Taylor, Minneapolis School Board Member

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Socialist2001@cs.com (Doug Mann) wrote:

I counted 436.6 teachers positions for special education programs in the budgets for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. How many of the teachers filling those positions will be laid off as part of the realignment process?  My guess is that upwards of 100 special education teachers have been fired so that the district will be in a position to rehire all of the higher-seniority elementary teachers who were excessed and / or fired.

It is not enough for a teacher to have a special education license to teach special education students. Specialized education and training is also needed to adequately meet the needs of the students. (I am looking into the law and court decisions related to this issue) And it is likely that many of the teachers who will be reassigned to special education will not be fully qualified.

If fully qualified special education teachers are replace with less-than-fully qualified special education teachers, as is currently the plan, the district runs the risk of losing about 20% or so of the revenue it is planning to get for special education services in fiscal year 2004-2005. The district would also have to eat the cost of training teachers who are likely to be in special education positions for only one to 3 years (until they retire or bid out).

I urge the Minneapolis school board members to consider other options. I urge the board to follow the law and the teachers contract along the lines I proposed in a draft resolution which can be seen at http://educationright.com/id349.htm

-Doug Mann, King Field
www.educationright.com