How to answer these application questions

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by tonysam, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Jan 15, 2012

    For Medford, Oregon, school district's certificated applications are these ridiculous questions designed solely to weed teacher applicants out:

    Have you ever been placed on a plan of improvement or formally disciplined
    for work performance? No Yes
    Have you ever been released or discharged from an educational position or school
    related employment because of unsatisfactory service or misconduct? No Yes

    The problem is the last school district where I worked screwed up in both cases. In the first case, the principal wrote me up on trumped-up charges stemming from a class field trip because he was mad I wouldn't cheat for him. I was given an admonition where the "discipline" was a suspension with two days pay and I was supposed to be on a plan of improvement. Neither ever happened and the 90-day window of implementation expired, so the admonition wasn't valid. The principal in this case was eventually demoted over sexual misconduct with a subordinate.

    The problem with the second question is I was dismissed, but it was not misconduct but ostensibly over an FMLA form I submitted before my illness ran its course. It didn't even merit an oral reprimand. The principal in this case (a different one) broke the law and fired me without having followed the law. I never committed any kind of misconduct, and I was able to get UI benefits without any problem. The district never challenged it. It was HR that put the principal up to firing me although she hadn't done anything she was supposed to do. She was punished not by losing her job like she should have, but she was reassigned to another school.

    I am very tempted that if I apply for this district to simply check off "no" for both answers rather than write ten pages explaining the district's screw ups giving this district an excuse to weed me out.

    How would people here answer those ridiculous questions if this was their situation?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 15, 2012

    I'd be able to truthfully answer 'no'. I don't think they are ridiculous questions. I do think you are in a bad position. Is there any way you could call your former district and have your 'record' expunged?
     
  4. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    I don't think there is anything I can do about it. I don't know if I can see a lawyer about getting my files sent to me since I had a perfect record until I had the last two principals. While the 549c questions may seem reasonable in theory, they aren't when you have a case like mine.

    The licensing board in Oregon I can get around because it simply asks if one has ever been put on administrative leave for alleged misconduct, which mine was definitely not. On the Edzapp questions which many Oregon districts have, one of the questions is about having to leave before the end of the contract term. I simply checked off "yes" and then simply wrote three words: FMLA/health-related, which is the truth. No further explanation is necessary without looking like I am trashing the previous district.
     
  5. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Jan 15, 2012

    I've had to answer all of these questions on my many teaching applications. Even though I'm in PA, I've done these exact ones. Tells me that it is probably standard throughout many of the states.

    I second the suggestion of trying to get your record expunged. You could also try to attach a letter of explanation to any application you send it - that's what you're supposed to do on the PA standard application, it might also work for you.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree that the questions are NOT ridiculous.

    Lying on an application is probably the easiest way of being weeded out.
     
  7. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2012

    You are not helpful. What would you do if you had this application and you were in my shoes? Answer my question or just ignore the post. The district was completely at fault here.

    The questions ARE ridiculous when you are in my shoes because I was not truly disciplined or fired for cause. I am sure I am not the first person this has happened to.
     
  8. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2012

    No, it isn't standard up here because almost all of the Oregon districts use EdZapp. I have already said previously the only question that I would have to answer "yes" is failure to complete a contract. This is a question that used to be on the application for an Oregon teaching license but no longer, I believe, because the licensing agency had many, many teachers with similar situations with principals when the agency is actually looking for real misconduct--you know, child abuse, sexual misconduct, criminal records. Only three words--FMLA/health-related--are necessary to explain.

    I am not going to write a ten-page letter to a school district telling them what these people in Nevada did when in fact the way the question is asked with the word "no" in front is a weeding out question. If I explain in detail it looks like I am bashing an employer--a major sin in job hunting. They will simply throw the application in the garbage can. The old district did not discipline me and I was not fired for valid reasons. I also know for a fact the school district down there will NOT divulge anything surrounding my dismissal because of privacy laws.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 16, 2012

    Please keep in mind that no one here is the cause of your problems.

    As I stated, in my opinion, lying will get you weeded out. Be truthful.

    If that's not the answer you wanted, I apologize. But it's my opinion.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Best of luck in your job search.
     
  11. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2012

    Well, you think I am a liar and the school district was right because after all, it is impossible to fire teachers unless they did something wrong. Well, you don't know that, obviously.

    If somebody puts an admonition in your file but another principal doesn't implement it--and there are NO records showing anything was ever done--and no pay was ever docked--it isn't valid. If a principal fires you when she doesn't follow state and federal law and eventually reassigned for HER misconduct and the district rigs your hearing to cover up their negligence, then no, it isn't being fired for "misconduct" or "work performance." We are talking about what amounts to a clerical error over an illness the district KNEW about and NEVER disputed, yet the principal and the district violated the negotiated agreement. If it had been misconduct, they'd have fought my application for UI, and they never did, and the state employment office had all of the facts, including legal documents.

    FMLA violations are rampant in public education, by the way.
     
  12. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Jan 16, 2012

    I think Alice meant that you should answer the questions on the application truthfully according to the outcome, not according to the circumstances that led to the outcome.

    Even when the district IS at fault (and honestly, I have now seen enough in my area to be quite sure that such violations do occur quite often), you might just be screwed in the application process if you do not get it expunged or explain it somehow. I understand your frustration, but you seem to have only a few options to pick from.

    1. Do the application, answer "no" to both questions, and hope that the interviewer doesn't look too closely at the application.
    2. Do the application, answer "yes" to both questions, and hope that the interviewer doesn't look any deeper into it.
    3. Do the application, answer "yes" to both questions, submit a letter of explanation, and hope that the application isn't trashed because you felt the need to explain.
    4. Do not send an application to that district.

    Whatever you pick, good luck!
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 16, 2012

    Your unhappiness at the system in which you find yourself is understandable, tonysam - but it does not give you the right to be rude at an individual outside that system who gives advice you don't find congenial.
     
  14. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Jan 16, 2012

    You should be honest. References are required and the truth will come out if not right away, later. When that happens, you will be fired. I am not saying this to upset you or for you to attack me. I am saying this because it is the truth. Being honest is the only way an individual can sign a contract in good faith. The circumstances surrounding your dismissal may all be not your fault... it is also not the fault of the districts in which you are applying. In good faith districts ask these questions and I can assure you, before I hire anyone... I want to know where they last worked and I will be speaking with their administrators or they are not given the opportunity to work in my school. Good luck to you. But as the saying goes, honesty really is the best policy.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 16, 2012

    No one thinks you are a liar. You are in a bad position. If you truly want to get back into education, you need to unravel the web you are caught in. Start with the District from which you were fired. Presumably they have new admin but are probably well aware of the mess left behind by the last group. See where that takes you.
    No one here on the forums has done anything to contribute to your current situation. Help as been offered, as well as opinions on your outlook. The questions being asked are not ridiculous...they are part of a screening process. You are in competition with many many highly qualified and experienced teacher's with sterling records who can truthfully answer those questions. Lying WILL catch up with you. You've been offered good advice. Be guided accordingly.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 16, 2012

    Be truthful even if the truth isn't easy or pretty. There must be a way for you to attach a letter of explanation.

    Have you attempted to contact your former district and ask about expunging your record? You say that it was in Nevada....Was it CCSD? There is a new superintendent now, so things might be different now (if that's the district you're talking about) and it might be easier than you think.
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I would work to untangle the situation behind you so you may answer these questions honesty and to both your and the district's satisfaction.
     
  18. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2012

    So, if Tonysam gets his record expunged in his former district, does that mean he can truthfully answer the questions "No"?

    Is there still the possibility his former administrators who did this to him could be contacted as references?

    Just wondering.
     
  19. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2012

    No, it was Washoe. I hope you guys have actually read my OP. I was illegally fired by a principal who was later reassigned because of misconduct--negligence--over this matter; I was not reinstated which in itself was illegal. This was almost four years ago, and I have worked in other, non-teaching jobs since, so the "last supervisor" requirement won't affect me. I have other references.

    I believe the Medford School District application is way out of line with other districts throughout the state and country by asking weeding out questions which cannot be answered "yes" and be truthful, because IT DIDN'T FREAKING HAPPEN. Because somebody puts an admonition in your file doesn't mean you were disciplined when the district didn't deduct my pay or put me on a plan of improvement or a mentor program (the principal who didn't do this was the one who fired me because she wanted to cover her and the HR chief's asses). It wasn't a valid admonition; it had expired and in fact this idiot principal who terminated me never even looked at my file before she made up her mind she didn't want me around anymore. I wasn't fired for "misconduct," either, since an FMLA-covered illness is not considered "misconduct."
     
  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2012

    tonysam--It may be prudent to take the names of school districts out of your post.
     
  21. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2012

    I have never in all my years of job hunting seen an application as bad as Medford School District's. Most education applications are pretty cut and dried.

    In addition, this stupid HR outfit wants one to list all former supervisors who "are qualified to answer inquiries concerning your ability to provide quality education for students." They have four blanks here, and the most this district will EVER get from me are two, should I choose to apply with them. Those two I know would not badmouth me. Three others are retired and I am not in touch with them, but if I could, they wouldn't badmouth me, either, while of course there were the two idiots who were ultimately demoted or reassigned who would to cover their butts (and neither ever wrote up a formal evaluation of me).

    This district has had some cases of bad administrators and teachers, yet it seems this draconian job application hasn't prevented those types from getting jobs.
     
  22. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 17, 2012

    There was a thread on here about continuing to teach after you';ve been fired (non-reelected). Many teachers were able to continue to get teaching jobs.

    So hope is not lost.

    Have you gone back to the distrct, yet, and explained your situation? It's been four years. They may have cleaned up their act. I would DEFINITELY go and give that a try.

    Even though you've held other positions since then, I have a feeling that they may contact your most last position at a school. It's just best to get that part figured out before applying.

    I, myself, had a HORRIBLE principal who put me on the non-reelect list, even though two days prior, he gave me a glowing post observation evaluation. It was all about budget and getting his pet teacher into my position. It was messy. He ended up being fired the following year. I really though my career was over. I ended up resigning to avoid being fired (non-reelected). But still, it stinks. Anyways, two years later I was back at that same school with a MUCH BETTER principal. Even though I quit (and was told that I was blacklisted), they knew what really happened and let me come back. So, go back to the district. They know what went on back then.
     
  23. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Jan 17, 2012

    First things first. This thread is only a couple of pages long, so I'm pretty sure every member posting here did read the OP and they have all given you very prudent advice regarding your situation. If you don't like the advice, that's your choice, but you don't need to take your anger out on them when they are trying to give you good advice for your situation.

    Secondly, you can't change what happened in the past, whether it was unfair or not. All you can do is find a way to deal with it. You can continue complaining about the circumstances of the firing or you can channel that energy into expunging or diminishing the impact of those circumstances.

    Whichever course you choose, you need to learn to discuss this situation calmly and succinctly. I agree the district doesn't need a 10-page letter of explanation. All that will accomplish is making the situation seem a lot worse than it was - especially since, by your own admission and posts here, you cannot provide that explanation without trashing your former district and supervisors. You can control just how big (or small) of an issue this becomes in interviews. The more emphasis and explanation you try to give, the bigger the problem will appear to be. The less fuss you make about it, the less problematic it will seem.


    It's been stated several times already, but the questions on the application are NOT "way out of line". In fact, they are perfectly legitimate questions. Just because you've been through a very bad situation doesn't make the questions invalid or improper.

    Your best bet would be to answer "Yes" and then write "Will Discuss" for the explanation. Or you could write "An admonishment was placed in my file by a former administrator, but did not result in any improvement plan or disciplinary action being taken". If you are asked to "discuss" the issue in the interview, I would just stick to that same explanation and don't say anything else about it.

    Sometimes Letters of Admonishment are placed in files strictly on a CYA basis, which means the incident wasn't really serious to begin with. Just state the minimum facts and let the committee read between the lines. IF they ask for further clarification, just state very plainly and simply what action (or incident) led to the admonishment, but DO NOT speculate on WHY the admonishment was done. As Sgt. Friday says, just give them the facts and nothing else.

    As for the second question, you keep insisting you were fired for an FMLA-covered illness rather than misconduct. I can understand that because I've been in that situation myself. One thing you haven't shared is exactly why the district fired you. What reason was given on your termination notice? And what were the circumstances regarding the FMLA-illness that led to your termination? (if you feel comfortable sharing this information).

    The more we know about the issue, the better we can focus the advice and answers we give you. Also, by listing the circumstance here, you can practice writing a neutral account of the incident.
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 18, 2012

    Putting your past situation aside (you've already been given very good advice on ways to address that), if you are so unhappy with the hiring policies of this district, why are you so interested in working there?
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    :yeahthat:
     
  26. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    Jan 18, 2012

    I have to agree with MrsC and Caesar....it's exactly what was going through my head as I was reading this whole thread. If you don't like the application process, there will probably be other things about the district that might not be the best fit for you either. My two cents, as other posters have stated, is to try and solve the problems with the old district to get your record cleared up, then apply everywhere and see what comes of it. I think you will ultimately be happier at a district that can look past the past (pardon the pun- I can't think of another way to say this at the moment) and focus on the teacher you are now.
     

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