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Layoff notices to 600 teachers excessive, illegal
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
Subj: [Mpls] Layoff notices to 600 teachers excessive, illegal
Date: 7/2/2004 10:48:38 AM Central Daylight Time
From: Socialist2001@cs.com (Doug Mann)
The district is planning to cut 213.8 regular classroom teaching positions
(program 200 in the 2004-2005 budget). Why 600.0 layoff notices?
Most of the teachers who get the layoff notices can't be sure if they will
have a job with the district next fall, so they are likely to seek another job,
and some might land another job and pass up the opportunity to return to work
for the district. That will reduce the number of teachers who will actually
get laid off, and reduce the amount of money the district has to pay out for
unemployment insurance premiums, etc.
About 300 layoff notices were sent to low-seniority "probationary" teachers
this past spring. It is likely that most, but not all of the positions that the
administration plans to cut are held by "probationary teachers." The problem
is that the district cannot legally terminate the contracts of those
low-seniority "probationary" teachers except for cause (misconduct or poor performance)
or the elimination of the positions that they hold.
As a parting gift to the teachers, and to cover his own behind, David
Jennings sent out another 300 layoff notices. Are as many as 600 teaching positions,
nearly half of the teaching positions in program 200 (regular instruction)
potentially on the chopping block? Not likely.
Teachers and the general public should be aware that no teacher has "bumping
rights," but the district administration has bumped teachers out of their
jobs, and filled those jobs with other teachers. This is done by giving a teacher
notice that their job may be excised, then assigning another teacher to that
job after a decision is made to not excise the job. I know about this because I
have done some behind the scenes grievance work for teachers and I have dealt
with this issue.
I strongly urge tenured teachers who have received layoff notices to file a
grievance within 30 days after getting the notice, unless the notice clearly
and explicitly states that "1) a decision to excise your position has not been
made, 2) you will receive written notification if it is determined that your
position will be excised, and 3) you will remain employed in your current
position if your current position is not excised." It may be possible to reset the
clock relating to the time limit for filing a grievance. I'll have to look at
language in the current contract to figure out whether and how that can be done.
Low seniority "probationary teachers." You may have the right to appeal the
termination of your employment if you are not being fired for cause. If the
contract is not clear on this issue, you can assert your right to appeal on
language in the teacher tenure act. I can probably figure out a way to reset the
clock relating to time limits for filing a grievance. Of course, you may want to
lay low and hope that you don't get laid off rather than run the risk of
facing retaliation for filing a grievance. However, your union officers or an
alternative advocate may be able to take the preliminary steps necessary to put
you in a position to file a grievance in a timely fashion when decisions about
job cuts are finalized.
At its next regular session, the Minneapolis Board of Education should
rescind all of the layoff notices sent to teachers and classroom aids, and instruct
the school administration to limit the total number of lay off notices to 125%
of the number of positions for teachers and classroom aids to be cut, which
translates to about 276 layoff notices for regular classroom teachers (program
200). Those notices should also stipulate that "1) a decision to excise your
position has not been made, 2) you will receive written notification if it is
determined that your position will be excised, and 3) you will remain employed
in your current position if your current position is not excised."
-Doug Mann, King Field
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