I am entitled to know why I was "not satisfactory".

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by oldstudent, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 15, 2012

    For the first time in nearly 15 years of subbing, I received a shocking e mail this evening from my main school district's substitute secretary.

    It stated that personnel services had received notification that my performance at ----- Elementary School was not satisfactory, and that I will no longer be permitted to accept assignments at this school. It referenced the substitute teacher handbook that stated if three such notifications are received, that I may be terminated.

    Am I legally entiltled to know why my performance was not satisfactory? This is the first time anyone has ever complained about me.

    I just wrote the secretary requesting specifically to know why I was not satisfactory. I will see what advice I get, if any.
     
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  3. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Woah, yes, I'd definitely be upset (inside my own mind, not outwardly towards them of course) & definitely would be dying to find out what I did. Regarding the legalities of the situation, I personally don't know if a school or district HAS to tell the sub why. They sometimes don't tell permanently hired teachers why they're being let go. I know after my 1st year of being a special ed teacher one year, I was simply told I wasn't a good fit, whatever that means. That's the most broad reason if I ever heard one & can mean so many things. In my opinion, a substitute certainly SHOULD know why so they know to make sure never to do that again. Keep us posted if you don't mind, I'd like to know what you did that was so bad.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I don't think it's legally required but for your sake I hope they let you know. Two of my dads coworkers- regular full-time teachers- were non renewed last year and even with the union the only reason they got was "inadequate teaching."
     
  5. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 15, 2012

    My last assignment at this school was back on January 20, so the day is not even fresh in my mind. I remember nothing about the class at all.
    In the times I have been at this school, I have never received any bad vibes from anyone.
    It is quite a mystery.

    Worst of all, I now have something bad in my personnel file, so getting a full time job some day will be all the more difficult.

    In this unforgiving world we live in, one bad day means more than the hundreds of good days.
     
  6. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Feb 15, 2012

    The school has no legal obligation to tell you anything more than they have, to the best of my knowledge. Still, I would either call the regular secretary to see if she could offer some insight or schedule a meeting with the principal to ask about it. I would approach it with the attitude that you simply want to know what action(s) generated the "unsatisfactory" rating so you can be certain to correct that mistake and avoid it in the future.

    It would also be worth your time to investigate to make sure the rating wasn't put on your profile by mistake (maybe there is another sub with the same or similar name).

    Finally, I don't know how long you've been subbing, but I don't think one bad report out of ALL the classes you've covered would be the career-killer you worrying about. I understand the concern, especially in this job market, but it really shouldn't carry that much weight if all of your other reviews or comments have been positive.

    DO keep us posted and let us know what happens.
     
  7. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I sure hope that the secretary shares something with you about whatever happened. It seems like it would be silly for them not to share if you are subbing in other schools in the district.
     
  8. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 15, 2012

    I have already contacted the district sub secretary who sent me the e-mail to get details about the "not satisfactory rating".

    If I do not hear from her, I will next e mail the teacher I worked for on January 20 to see if she will respond.

    My next response will be to call the school secretary, and finally, if I have received no feedback, I will call or e mail the Principal.

    Unfortunately, satisfactory days are expected, and positive feedback is unofficial. I therefore doubt there is anything in my file that says I have done well.

    Negative evaluations are official, but such is the nature of the beast.
     
  9. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2012

    A New World...

    Hello All,

    I too, share this concern, to eliminate doubt about your performance you can establish a dialogue with preferred sites. What I do is, after completing every assignment I send (via district E-mail) a "post-report" to the teacher outlining the events that occurred while the teacher was out--student behaviors, achievements, or conflicts, etc. that might affect the teacher's future performance (never to critique the teacher's practices themselves:unsure:). I have formatted my reports to encourage feedback and allow the teacher to critique MY performance, recommend corrections and or opt out of future engagements.

    Keep in mind that what we communicate in district e-mails can be construed as "official" communications; just as negative communiques can be used against us or tarnish our reputations, inversely, positive ones can be used to support our progress.

    While this may not reverse a particular Teacher's or Principal's decision to exclude you from working at a particular school site the communications can serve to support your efforts if the ban becomes a District or Regional issue that may lead to the revocation of your license.

    Evolving technologies allow us to become active participants in our own professional development, giving us the tools to collect and preserve evidence of our own learning experiences.

    PS if there is any concern that the beneficial e-mails might be purged by your district, cc or forward all your "official" e-mails to a private e-mail server, this will document their origin without compromising the district's server... MAKE SURE THAT THIS ACTION DOESN'T VIOLATE YOUR DISTRICT'S TOS!!!

    Good luck to all and thank you for sharing your experiences in this forum.
    ;)
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 15, 2012

    I don't think that you should contact the teacher you subbed for. I think that it would put the teacher in an awkward situation. I personally would feel uncomfortable, and possibly even harassed, if a sub I marked as unsatisfactory contacted me to discuss the situation.
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Feb 15, 2012

    Agreed Caesar. You aren't even sure if it was that teacher-it could have been a different day, or a different teacher who lodged a complaint.
     
  12. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    Caesar,

    I never said anything about addressing issues between teachers or administrators--that is your reps job, I said send a report of the day and allow the teacher to respond on their own...

    Besides, if a teacher isn't willing to respond a Sub's feedback (at least to say thank you) then it would probably be best if the Sub passes on future assignments with that teacher because he/she doesn't respect the Sub as a professional resource.

    My point is that we, as professionals, have to learn to document all of our assignments for future reference, in case misunderstandings (or false accusations) arise, then we can offer evidence based responses if we have to defend our actions.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 15, 2012

    I don't believe that I indicated that you said anything about communicating with the classroom teacher. The OP is the one who said that and the one to whom I was responding.
     
  14. subczy

    subczy Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2012

    Nope...

    If your state law states they may terminate without revealing (right to work state is that the term??) then they do not have to tell you unless you file for unemployment (which subs can't do) or you sue them. In my state employers rarely tell you why when they fire you and use general terms such as not a good fit and so on to avoid showing their cards so to speak. They may you pay for an attorney in order to put them at risk for litigation - does tha tmake sense? Of course, you can always ask them - I would guess the secretary will not know but h.r. dept might. I do not think you are fired - you are simply banned from one building. (our dist reinstates all subs to all buildings every summer so you may get another crack at it next year)

    Additionally, you have been banned from that building but not really fired. If you do not get anything out of the secretary I would let it go and concentrate hard at any other buildings you can find work in. While concentrating in new buildings I suggest you always leave a sub report with your contact info, taht you let any teachers you kind of know well know that you are open to critique so you can improve (no need to tell them of the banning) and take some time to really reflect on your performance as well as how other subs who are also well liked perform and do thier job. You might even request to observe some teachers in classes you have difficulty with so you can refresh your skills.

    Good luck!
     
  15. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    No problem Caesar,

    but looking back the OP mentioned contacting the secretary, while I was the one that who brought up e-mailing Teachers and documenting each assignment, which is why I thought you were referring to my post...

    Ultimately, all subs (as outsiders) are subject to in-house politics and favoritism, my point is that if you document your own progress then you will have some recourse, in the event that an abuse of power occurs.

    Remember we are (or at least I am) going under the assumption that the OP is experiencing an unforeseen injustice of some sort. Establishing an open line of communication with teachers and site administrators will go a long way towards avoiding conflicts with permanent personnel.
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 15, 2012

    The OP stated in #7 he or she would email the teacher if no response was received from the secretary.

    Anyhow, I would not contact the teacher personally either. I do, though, hope you can learn the specifics. I would be a mess not knowing.

    Best wishes!
     
  17. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 15, 2012

    I will take the advice here and not e-mail the teacher, although I am considering e-mailing the school to see if i can find anything out.

    I have been desperatly trying to recollect anything I can about this particular job, but it was almost four weeks ago, and I usually forget about the details of a job within 48 hours.

    There are only two things that I vaguely remember.

    I recall asking to borrow the teachers' edition of the Language Arts theme because the teacher left me no book with their assigned story. I did forget to give the book back to the other teacher, who was gone at the end of the day when I did remember.

    The 2nd thing I remember was a girl coming back into the classroom after school was over because she forgot something. I remember hurrying her along( not rudely) because I needed to leave.

    Nothing else stands out.
     
  18. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    If you don't hear back from the secretary that you contacted, I would try to call her/him. If they don't want to talk over the phone, try to set up an appointment.
     
  19. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Hmm, well oldstudent, those 2 things you mentioned don't sound like anything bad at all. IT will be interesting to know what it really is.
     
  20. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 15, 2012

    As a classroom teacher, I feel it's my right and responsibility to make sure subs who aren't a fit for my class to not be there again. It's about what's best for my kids and my classroom climate. I don't go by a one day experience to make this decision unless its a real problem. Sorry for you, op.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Agreed. Just today I contacted our school's office manager and asked her not to place a sub I had earlier this week in my classroom again. Students in every class reported that the sub was "creepy" and "made [the students] feel uncomfortable". I don't want my students to feel uncomfortable ever, and especially not in their own classroom, so I reported the sub and asked that he not be placed in my room again. I'm sorry if the sub takes offense to that, but my responsibility is to my students and not to the sub's feelings.
     
  22. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    I don't think that anyone here is arguing that the student should be put at risk in fact, if I sub for a teacher that is using bad judgement and exposing their students to unhealthy conditions, I will report that teacher and pass if asked (by random selection) to go back that assignment...

    besides, until Teachers are actually willing to communicate with your Subs as fellow professionals students could be playing them because the the sub was actually doing his/her job, not letting students take advantage of a teacher's absence.

    By the way I have had many students say that they wish I was their "real teacher", [the students] saying bad things about their teacher. When this happens I let the teacher and administrators know what the students are expressing so they can take appropriate steps to help the child, it is called professional courtesy.

    It isn't personal, it is part of my job as an Educator, full or part-time. Too bad some teachers don't feel the need to reciprocate a professional attitude towards Substitutes.
     
  23. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    If you marked the sub as "unsatisfactory", why would you feel harassed if the sub called to ask for an explanation of what (s)he did wrong? How are they supposed to do better in the next classroom if they don't know what they did wrong in the previous one?
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I just don't think that that's the appropriate procedure. If the sub has questions or concerns, he or she can go through Sub Services to find the answers. It is my preference that the sub not contact me when it's about something disciplinary like that.
     
  25. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Teachers certainly have the right to demand that a particular sub not be assigned to the classroom, but I feel that the sub also has a right to know why they were not a good fit or why they were thought of as "creepy".
    Teachers should realize that they are dealing with another individual's livlihood. All it takes is one negative evaluation or comment to ruin a subs career or prospects for additional employment.
    Substitutes cannot correct their wrongs if they do not know what they are doing wrong.
    Unless the accusation is an unexcusable abuse, a sub who is ignorant of their unrealized potential can be derailed due to this ignorance.
    If the sub is a good person who is just not a fit for a class, so be it, but don't keep them in the dark.

    I have had numerous students tell me they wish I was their regular teacher, so I don't think I am creepy. I am especially well liked by younger students, but ironically my last class at my newly banned school was a 2nd grade class.
    I will be very disapointed if I get no response from the sub secretary.

    I am considering calling the school and leaving my e- mail address for the Principal to please let me know how I erred.
    After reading the handbook, I learned it is the Principal who can choose to ban subs from their school.
    This should give her the chance to be honest without feeling that I am being too forward or demanding.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I didn't suggest that you were creepy. I was remarking on a situation that happened to me recently.

    Once again, my obligation and responsibility are to my students, not to the sub. I'm not going to neglect to report a potential incident because a sub might face negative consequences. If the sub doesn't like the consequences, he or she can appeal through Sub Services in my district. Me reporting what happened isn't the be-all-end-all of the sub's career. If he or she is a good sub with a good track record, there will be plenty of other jobs out there.
     
  27. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    I would never expect a teacher to put a subs feelings over the welfare of their students. You definitely need to report any negative incident that affects your class.
    All I am suggesting is that the sub should be able to know what the accusations are. Subs cannot appeal if they do not know what they are appealing.
    Unfortunately, merely one bad report can be the " do all end all" of a subs career if it becomes part of their personnel file. This is why in all fairness, subs should know what they are accused of.

    I don't think it matters how good my track record is, if there is a black mark in file, I will not be able to compete at the same level with other job candidates, UNLESS, I can speak my peace and just maybe have it ammended. Of course, I cannot do this if I know not what I am accused of.
     
  28. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Do you know if the teacher you borrowed the book from ever got the book back? If not that might be a reason.

    The only reason I ever asked a principal not to ask a sub back to my room was a time I had almost my whole class from the most well behaved to the worst behaved children tell me stories about a substitute teacher grabbing and pushing my students. I think one other time a principal asked one not to come back because I walked into my class towards the end of the day to what I would consider mayhem and the sub told me they were being perfect and this was a single incident, the principal told me later it was not a single incident it was all day. The principal and staff members had to come in to help her through the day. I had a relatively well behaved class that year and needing help controlling them was not normal at all for the school or the class.
     
  29. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    Hmmm, I like that; maybe with the following adaptations...

    My obligation and responsibility are to the students, not to the teacher. I'm not going to neglect to report a potential incident because a teacher might face negative consequences. If the teacher doesn't like the consequences, he or she can appeal through his her Union Rep in my district. Me reporting what happened isn't the be-all-end-all of the teacher's career. If he or she is a good teacher with a good track record, there will be plenty of other jobs out there...

    Yeah, I think I like your attitude Caesar...:cool:
     
  30. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    This raises another point. Subs have no union. I am still owed $108 that I formally appealed 14 months ago. I have been given the run around, and doubt I will ever see it.
    Pleasing subs is a low priority because we come a dime a dozen and have no representation.
     
  31. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    Really Oldstudent, you are not going to make any headway by talking at this point, that is unless you kept an accurate written account of your assignments which you apparently did not. All you can do now is avoid subbing for teachers who fail or decline to give you any feedback (good or bad). I think that the lesson to learn is that documented communication is your friend. If you hope to avoid this kind of thing in the future you will need to do a better job of watching your back.
     
  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 16, 2012

    You're free to report what you like. I'm pretty comfortable with the things that I do in my classroom. If a sub believes that he or she has a moral, ethical, and/or legal obligation to report me, then so be it. I am confident that my track record, evals, and student reports will back me up.

    The fact of the matter is that I am in that classroom almost every day, so I have a demonstrated record and rapport with my students. The sub who enters my classroom on one day likely lacks the background knowledge to make a fully informed decision about the entire situation. I recognize that as the classroom teacher I make decisions about subs based on a single day, but that's the burden of the substitute and the nature of the job.

    I read a lot on these forums about how substitutes want to be treated as professionals and as equals. I do my best to facilitate that in my daily professional life. But treating a sub as a professional doesn't mean ignoring the concerns of my students when they are widespread and/or alarming. I report what I need to report and let the office manager, admin, and Sub Services handle it from there. I'm not the one making any decisions regarding the employment status or livelihood of the sub. I'm merely requesting that the sub be placed somewhere besides my classroom because he or she is not a good fit for my students.
     
  33. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Will Sub Services know the reason for the unsatisfactory rating? If so, then I would agree that should be the first place the sub checks. If not, then it makes sense that the sub would ask either the teacher they subbed for or the principal of the school. Otherwise, there will be no way for the sub to find out what the specific complaint was regarding the job they did. Not all districts have Sub Services. In many districts, the sub deals directly with the school secretary or teacher requesting them. In those cases, it certainly seems to make sense these would also be the people the sub would approach to find out information about an unsatisfactory rating - especially if they have had good reports from all their other schools.

    To put it in another perspective, suppose your P gives you an unsatisfactory evaluation. Would you ask for a meeting to discuss the evaluation to find out why you suddenly got an unsatisfactory? If so, what would your reaction be if the P told you "It is not appropriate procedure for you to approach me. If you have questions about your evaluation, you need to talk to your union rep."

    Having worked as a manager, I learned very quickly that telling employees why their work was not satisfactory was part of the job. I also learned to have very specific incidents I could list as reasons for letting them go, when that was necessary. Just telling them a generic "You're not doing a good job" was not enough, I had to give specific examples.

    Specific complaints, such as the sub pushing or shoving students, is very straightforward. Complaints that the kids thought the sub was "creepy" is much more ambiguous. WHY did the kids feel the sub was "creepy"? Was it remarks he made they felt were inappropriate? Did the female students feel he was trying to look down their shirts? Or was it just because he "looked creepy" and didn't communicate or connect well with the students?

    The safety of the kids should definitely come first, but if they say "The sub was creepy", then they should provide some examples of exactly what was "creepy" about him/her. This way, if the sub DOES question the unsatisfactory rating, then you, the P and Sub Services has specific information they can use to explain the rating.
     
  34. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I agree completely the sub does have a right to know why they were rated unsatisfactory. Unless it was something very obvious, then there is no way to know what you've supposedly done wrong.

    Since the handbook says to contact the P, that is what I would do. Hopefully, (s)he will agree to either meet with you or at least offer an explanation in response to your e-mail.

    As for documenting your work to "prove" your track record of GOOD reports, you could try contacting the district office and asking if they could provide confirmation of your work in the different schools. Payroll will have a record of every assignment you've been paid for and they can compile a complete list of dates and locations you have worked in the district.

    I've done this twice in my local district; once when I asked my University Advisor if my substitute work could exempt me from my Internship I requirement (it did) and again when I needed my work in the district verified as part of an application for license in a neighboring state. Both times, the Central Office was happy to provide the documentation needed.
     
  35. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 16, 2012

    Most districts have policies and procedures regarding how a sub leaves a report on how the day went. My subs just let me know what they got through and a brief few sentences on any highlights/blips in the day. If I received an email such as those you've described, I might simply reply with something along the lines of "thanks for the feedback." Truthfully, most classroom teachers just want order positively maintained and their plans followed. Do that and there shouldn't be ny issues.
     
  36. Art_Educator

    Art_Educator Rookie

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    Feb 16, 2012

    The bottom line is many Substitutes Teachers work under precarious circumstances (the nature of the job indeed) where one misunderstanding can derail an otherwise blooming teaching career.

    So it may be a good idea to establish a list of preferred teacher/principals/sites where you feel most comfortable working, sites where communication is open, honest and most important conducive to the professional development all TEACHERS (full and part-time)....

    I simply suggest that if you feel that a particular site is using you as a "warm body" don't go back because by the time you are in Oldstudent's position it is probably too late to rectify the situation; and, bucking the staff at one site will probably just get you banned from other sites as well.
     
  37. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 16, 2012

    The substitute handbook does not tell us to contact the Principal, in fact it does not offer any proceedings for us to determine the reasons for a poor evaluation.
    The handbook stated that it is the Principal who is responsible for banning subs from a school, so I thought it logical to communicate with her in a submissive manner.

    Today, however, I received a voicemail from the sub desk secretary who said that I needed to set up an appointment to meet with a "personnel administrator" to discuss the matter. She left the extension for me to call.

    I am not clear, however, on the word "need". She said that in response to my inquiry, I needed to set up this appointment. I do not know if this appointment is mandatory, or wether I need to set this up ONLY if I want to find out why I received this negative feedback.

    Of course, I want this appointment and would set it up regardless, but if it is mandatory and not voluntary, this would indicate I am in deeper trouble than if I was just given the option of such an appointment. I guess I will know soon enough.

    I have subbed for over 1500 different teachers over the years. I suppose that the laws of averages dictates that eventually something like this could happen.
     
  38. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Feb 16, 2012

    Beggars cannot be choosers. I am sure all subs would love to handpick their assignments, but if one turns down a job that might not be the first choice, they could end up sitting home with no pay for the day.
    Most of us cannot afford to be picky.

    The school that banned me is not among my favorites, but I had never received bad vibes from any of the staff.
     
  39. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 17, 2012

    I think that you need to make the appointment if you want to learn about the specifics otherwise the letter you received would have told you to contact this person.
     
  40. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Feb 18, 2012

    Keep us posted on the appt's outcome. If I were you, I'd be tempted to bring in all my steller letters of recommendation, certificates for doing this & that, etc. that I've earned throughout the years. Just in case they might not know how much experience you have, you can whip those out & let them see how many other people/companies thought you were great.
     
  41. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Feb 18, 2012

    Don't stress yourself out over the wording. Since I'm on the outside of the situation, I would interpret the message from the sub desk secretary this way "You've made an inquiry regarding why you received an "unsatisfactory" from School A. Inquiries like this are handled by personnel administrators, so you will "need" to schedule an appointment with them to find out this information."

    Kinda like you "need" to ask your boss (instead of the secretary) if you want a day off.

    Let us know how the appointment goes. We're all pulling for you. :thumb:
     

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