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I accuse the Minneapolis school board of crimes & cover-ups   |   How many probationary teachers in K-3, 4-6 positions?   |   MPS administration estimates 3,000 fewer students than last year   |   School enrollment & accounting gimmicks   |   Re: School enrollment & accounting gimmicks   |   Re: Teacher placement in MPS schools   |   Teacher realignment was a politically expedient (& illegal) option

MPS administration estimates 3,000 fewer students than last year
The 2004-2005 budget is based on estimate of 4,600 fewer students than last year. The reassignment of 140 tenured teachers from elementary classrooms made it possible to rehire all of the probationary teachers assigned to elementary grade classrooms last year. The district says those reassignments were done to save the jobs of tenured teachers.

Subj:      [Mpls] MPS Estimates 3,000 fewer students than last year
Date:     9/1/2004 7:56:45 PM Central Daylight Time (Doug Mann)

"...The district estimates that it will start school today with 3,000 fewer students than last year because more parents are opting out, fewer immigrants are getting in, and the birthrate is only now rebounding from a dip in the late 1990s." - It's Peebles first day of school, and there are already tests, by Steve Brandt (Star-Tribune).

That's good news for the district, right? The 2004-2005 budget document predicted 4,600 fewer students compared to last years projection, "resulting in a reduction of 210.8 teacher positions." There might also be more money to fund programs like all day kindergarten, after school programs, etc.

A reduction of up to 140 classroom teacher positions in the regular education program would result from an enrollment decline of 3,000 in grades K-3, which has the lowest student / teacher ratio (22 to 1).

It just so happens that 140 tenured elementary teachers were involuntarily reassigned to other areas, resulting in the layoff of 140 teachers in high need areas (just about everywhere but elementary grades) in order to avoid the layoff of 140 elementary teachers who don't have licenses to teach in other areas.
All of the elementary teachers who got laid off can be rehired, including at least 48 probationary teachers. [Of the 140 elementary teachers who were laid off, no more than 92 were tenured, according to a press release from the district dated August 10, 2004]

The 2003-2004 budget funded fewer than 1,700 teacher positions in Special Education programs and regular K-12 instruction. The 2004-2005 budget passed on June 29, 2004 cut 213.8 positions for regular K-12 instruction, and there were no job cuts in special Ed. Since last April the district laid off 608 teachers, including 455 probationary teachers, and 155 tenured teachers. Of the tenured teachers laid off, 92 were teaching elementary grades, according to a press release from the district dated August 10, 2004.

The realignment process was designed to shift the burden of laying off new teachers to other areas. The realignment plan was cooked up over the weekend prior to the June 29 board meeting. Before then, board member Sharon Henry Blythe had publicly raised concerns about the new teachers who would get laid off
(and not get rehired), including many teachers of color.

The MN teacher Tenure Act does not require the district to reassign any teachers in order to preserve the employment of probationary teachers, and the district may not reassign tenured teachers without their consent, unless their jobs are being "excessed" or to preserve the employment of another tenured
teacher (The Strand decision requires the district to make a reasonable effort to preserve the employment of tenured teachers).    

Ross Taylor and other district officials have told the "realigned" teachers that they can get back into elementary teaching positions if they drop their other licenses, that they can bump low seniority teachers. If I were a realigned teacher, I would ask the district put that in the form of a written policy statement. It may be necessary to sue the district, alleging a violation of tenure rights, in order to force the district to make that accommodation.  The first step would be to seek administrative relief, alleging a violation of contractual rights and seeking a specific remedy, with or without assistance from the union. And that step should be taken no later than the time period normally allowed for filing a grievance (check the contract, I think it is 15 days after you get notice of a personnel action.) It may be possible to reset the clock by alleging that until the August 31, 2004 board meeting the district withheld critical information that contradicted claims that the reassignments were not contestable.
I encourage teachers to assert their rights under their contract and the teacher tenure act because that is the only way that the district can be forced to comply with the teacher tenure act, and because I believe the district would be better managed if the district management had to play by the rules set down
in the teacher tenure act. (e.g., would have lower teacher turnover).

The quality of instruction delivered by a teacher generally improves over time, and the learning curve is typically very steep during the first five years. For that reason, probationary teachers should be distributed evenly through the district. The district has never proposed modifications to the teachers contract to make that happen, and the union leadership has never advocated it. However, some teachers and education advocates (e.g., NAACP education advocacy committee members) have urged the school board to do that.
See "I accuse the district of Crimes and cover-ups" at my web site

-Doug Mann, King Field
Mann for School Board