Not renewed after first year. No reason given. Great evaluations & test scores.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bhjm, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. bhjm

    bhjm New Member

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    Jul 19, 2014

    My wife graduated from a very well regarded University in the Midwest. She accepted a position last summer for a Kindergarten job in East Tennessee.

    The Friday on the week before school ended, the Principal called her into her office for end of the year review. I had a weird feeling about it because every other teacher had their review in the morning. Hers was the only one in the afternoon. And sure enough she was told she wasn't being renewed. It came as a complete shock for numerous reasons. First, everyone kept telling her she was good because she had got a piece of paper that she signed for the intent to teach at the school for 2014-2015. Another reason is allegedly Tennessee says that they have to be notified by a specific date of non-renewal. I thought it was April 15th?

    Anyway, Tennessee started a new rule on evaluations. You get 2 announced and 2 unannounced evaluations. The Principal does 2 and the Asst does 2. I think it's a terrible idea to have them do them, I think it needs to be someone from the school board office with no ties to either the teacher or principals. And I think the principals need the same evaluations on them. Anyway, my wife got an overall evaluation of 3/5 which is considered rock solid teaching. I thought that was very good for her first year out of college. All her co-workers said they never got that good of evaluations their first year. Now, my wife worked her butt off. She got up at 4:45am, was to the school by 5:30, brought all her work home, and worked all day on Sunday. I would be a liar if I said she worked less than 80 hours a week. She also spent a lot of money on her kids because it was kids from broken homes. Also, the end of the year tests(yup the poor little Kinders have to take 'THE TEST', too)she had the highest test scores of anyone in the Kindergarten team(6 teachers).

    As I mentioned, her overall evaluation was a 3/5. This is taking into account that her 4th and final evaluation(done by the principal) was over teamwork and lesson planning and she was given a 1. Now here is the funny thing. All the other Kindergarten teachers were given 5's. All the Kindergarten team stayed after school every Tuesday for 2-3 hours and did their lesson plans together. THEY WERE THE SAME LESSON PLANS. And my wife did more for the school then they did. She donated way more of her time. Any fundraisers, etc. my wife was a lot of the time the only K teacher there. So talk about shady. That leads me to believe that my wife wasn't supposed to get that paper and that the principal knew all along she was going to non-renew her and it would look worse if she non-renewed a teacher with a 4/5 evaluation so she purposely gave her a 1. Like I said, all the other teachers got 5's and they all did the same work.

    My wife went back 3 times to try to get a straight answer from the principal and never could. She went to the Superintendent who wouldn't do anything either. Why? Because he goes to the church that the principal's husband is the pastor of so they are all BFF's. Yup, welcome to the bible belt. Almost all the teachers at this school go to that church. We don't because we aren't religious. I honestly think it was personal and religion based and I think the principal tried to ruin her career over it because my wife was never given any warnings, nothing. Just out of the blue, called in, and said non-renewed 5 days before the end of school. In fact, up until then the assistant principal kept telling her how great she was doing and so did all the tenured teachers. Oh, and the principal has been there 6 years, and every year the teacher in my wife's classroom has been non-renewed. Yeah, try to understand that one.

    Sorry for the rambling, it just irks me to no end that my wife worked her tail off through college, then worked her tail off for this school, only to have it all wrecked by a psycho principal on a power trip.

    Which leads me to this, what are her options? We are toward the end of July and she still has no job for the fall and no prospects. I commend her for wanting to stick with it, she didn't apply for unemployment and has been applying all over the place. But I still am wondering if she should consult with a lawyer or if it's a waste of time.

    It's sad what these principals are allowed to get away with. Why even have these evaluations if they aren't followed correctly?
     
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  3. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    Jul 19, 2014

    I've known teachers who were non-renewed due to the position not being there the next year. At our school, Kinder relies on new enrollment numbers to decide how many teachers to have. If enrollment is down, 1 teacher has to go. Someone else then usually gets hired closer to the beginning of school when enrollment picks up. Additionally, in my district, all teachers who have been with the district less than 3 years are listed as non-renewed if they aren't returning for whatever reason.

    I don't think there is much she can do- yes it sucks but I don't think they had it out for her. If they did, her evals wpuld have been lower from the start.
     
  4. bhjm

    bhjm New Member

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    It wasn't due to budget or not enough enrollment. The position got posted immediately on the school board website.

    I don't think the P had it out for her at the beginning. For whatever reason, toward the end she decided she didn't want her there. Like I said, you would have to meet this P. She is a psycho and is the most hated P in the district. Not even the other P's like her. But the Superintendent lovers her and gives heer free reign to do whatever. There's a reason there has been a new Kindergarten teacher in that classroom every year she has been there. There is a lot of turnover at this school because she non-renews anyone she can.
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jul 19, 2014

    Did your wife know that before taking the job?

    Unfortunately these things happen. I will say though that I would way rather be evaluated by my P than a board member. Not all of them have ever worked in education. It would probably be okay in my district, but I'd hate it in the district I live in. Way too much politics.

    I'm so sorry for your wife. Hopefully she's able to find something else. A non-renewal definitely isn't a kiss of death though. There are many who find another job and do very well.
     
  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    That's the unfortunate thing about being non-tenured, they can release or nonrenew you and are not required to tell you why. There doesn't need to be "cause" like in non-contracted positions.

    I feel bad for your wife. Sounds like she's doing everything she can (by applying everywhere) to get a new job. I'm sorry you are going through this.
     
  7. Geauxtee

    Geauxtee Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2014

    Going off of what dgpiaffeteach said, it could be a small town politics. P and or superintendent know someone who wants a kindergarten job and your wife is conveniently non-renewed.

    Anything is possible at this point.

    I have a really similar story as well, but got hired at a better, easier school.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 19, 2014

    I agree with others that this doesn't sound like a non-renewal due to poor performance. It may just be a numbers game as others have mentioned. Many new teachers do not get renewed their first year simply because there is not an opening, and they are lowest on the totem pole, so they're the ones that have to go.

    I wouldn't put too much effort into trying to get her back into that school, but who knows they may call her back to see if she's interested later in the summer.

    She should start applying right away to new sites as well.

    Edit: Just saw your last post. That makes the situation for that particular school a little bit more bleak, but that also presents the opportunity for your wife to find a job at a better school with a different P.

    One possible reason the superintendent may like this P is it seems that the P is able to keep teacher salaries low by firing and rehiring new teachers who make less pay and then getting rid of them when they would move up the pay scale.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 19, 2014

    Is your wife a member of the union? If so, she should talk to her union rep about this particular issue.
     
  10. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2014

    A similar thing happened to me - except they could not non-renew me and my evaluations had already been completed and I was rated effective overall with many highly effective sub domains.

    So they threatened to put me on a disciplinary plan of action if I returned in the fall. I'm certain if I did, I would've gotten terrible evaluations.

    Luckily I'm onto a better school now. And I did just fine without my Principal as a reference.
     
  11. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    I too got the shaft from a principal who had it out for me from day one. It took two years for her to get ride of me but she did. The first year I was in a very difficult to fill position so there was no way she was going to give me bad evaluations. Then she moved me and was such a "witch" to me all year. We were evaluated twice. Once by my AP and then by her. My first one was done by the AP, although good it was not glowing and was given a proficient overall. Then the P came in and just was down right mean in her evaluation. I asked for a third one and got it. In the end I was given a proficient overall for the year. But I was non-renewed. All is good though. I am now at a different school. Moved on and am VERY happy. I have gotten great evaluations during the 5 years I have been here. Tell her don't give up. One bad school does not make or break a career.
     
  12. TnKinder

    TnKinder Companion

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    Jul 20, 2014

    If your wife is a member of TEA or the local chapter she needs to see a rep. She can also file a grievance, but in my neck of TN , you can only grieve the process, not the score. Since she was non-tenured and TN is a right to work state, there is not a whole lot she can do, outside of applying to other districts or schools close by. According to the info that I've gotten from my union rep, the P can nonrenew a teacher regardless of evaluation scores, but we have had some teachers file lawsuits for wrongful termination because the P had no sound reason to let the teachers go. Last year a teacher at my school was let go because the numbers dropped. She had an overall score of 3, so did a lot of other teachers, but she was the one to leave.
     
  13. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    This is a good example of why I make no apologies to anybody for having due process rights.
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I would echo you should have her check with the union rep. If there really is an issue with the Apr 15 notification, then they can tell her.

    If she wanted to sue under the religious angle she could, but I would put very small chances on success given what you've mentioned so far. You'd really need to find some kind of "smoking gun" to get that to work.

    But what would you want out of it, anyway? You don't really want to give her the chance to work there again -- it would be just a year of utter torture. Even if you won a lawsuit, after investing a ton of money and time and stress which would take her away from moving forward and likely do a lot more to ruin her career than anything else, you'd likely get a relatively modest judgement.
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Use the good test scores to revamp her resume and cover letter so she can get a job in a nearby district. Probationary teachers can be released even if they have perfect scores in testing and evaluations. It's not fair. But it's not unheard of. It's best to leave a place where your hard work isn't appreciated.
     
  16. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I agree with this. use all her positives from last year to highlight her strengths. Don't go any where near the same school.

    I taught in TN for 2 years. My P must have been the twin to her P!
    The town I lived in was highly religious and if you didn't go to that church, things would not bode well for you. My children were even blacklisted at school because we didn't go to that church. After two years, I finally had enough and moved us back home to Florida. Found out later that the P was fired for embezzlement. Karma is nice some times.

    Just keep encouraging her to apply to every school within a reasonable commuting distance, even if they don't have jobs posted. I read posts all the time from teachers who got a job from "cold calling".
     
  17. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    I'm sorry to hear that. I am starting my first year teaching this fall in Tennessee, and that makes me nervous. As a new teacher, I don't have any advice, but I know things will work out for the best! I'm sorry for the strain this has put you through.
     
  18. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I'm sorry. The same thing happened to me only worse. My previous district, for some reason unknown to me, declined to renew each and every non-tenured teacher with no explanation. They invited us all to interview for our jobs - which we all did - but none of us were hired back. Unfortunately, we had no recourse whatsoever.
     
  19. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Here, if you're not tenured, Admin can fire (non-renew) you for any reason they want. As long as they tell you by May 1.

    Luckily, my Admin started telling people in February that they would not be renewed so they could start looking for a new job.
     
  20. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    In CA, non-renewals are usually done by March 15th. I echo the previous advice about doing more research on this April 15th deadline. Ideally, she will find a better job, but if you are needing her income, she might have grounds for a grievance. She would probably have a miserable year, but she'd have a job.
     
  21. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Unemployment

    Can you explain to me why your wife hasn't applied for unemployment? Trust me, no one will hold that against her, and you just never know when you might make a contact that can head you in the right direction. The fee for the unemployment was removed from her salary already, so why leave the money to the state? It isn't a disgrace, after all, and it can certainly make waiting for a better job a lot more bearable. When I had a similar situation, I used the money to take more classes and earn more credits. When I was hired, it resulted in a higher salary because of my education. Please have her rethink the unemployment!
     
  22. bhjm

    bhjm New Member

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    Thanks for the responses everyone. She has already revamped her resume and cover letter and has been applying like crazy. I'm worried with how late it is into the summer most the schools have already filled positions. I guess it's not completely unheard of to hear teachers getting hired on the first day of school. This is just really frustrating that P's can ruin you just because. I just can't get over this P. She claims to be super religious, husband is a preacher, yet she has ruined so many ppl's careers because of how evil she is.


    I honestly think that's what it was. She lives a block over from us and drives by all the time and refuses to look over at us. You can tell she knows we are standing out there and keeps her head straight the entire time. I want to flip her off so bad.



    Unfortunately she's not a member. I never thought this would happen to be honest with you so she never became a member. Did any of them have any success with the wrongful termination? That's what I hate about right to work states, you can be let go for no reason. None. And you have zero protection.




    Gosh, it sounds like you were in my neck of the woods. Were you in the Jefferson City/Morristown/Newport area?




    Tennessee as a whole is super religious. They call it the buckle of the bible belt. It's pretty insane. If your job is in a major city like Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, or Chattanooga you will be okay because they have all walks of life there. It's when you get into the small towns of East Tennessee that you run into trouble. It's not just this city, its all of them. 98% of the population is born and raised so they already have their friends made, all go to church 3 days a week, and if you don't fit in to that, it's trouble. We didn't fit in to that. But we have family in the area. I hope your job isn't anywhere between Knoxville or Johnson City in any of the small cities in between. I really hope she can find a job in Knoxville or Chattanooga. I'm over small town TN.




    The reason I had her not file is because I figured she would never get rehired in the same school district again to prevent from having to move. Even though she was non-renewed she can still be rehired in the same district. If she doesn't get a job offer anywhere within the next 2 weeks I am going to have her file.
     
  23. TnKinder

    TnKinder Companion

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    They did have success in that it put pressure on the distirct to look at who was being let go and for what reason. The district back tracked and rehired them in lieu of going to court. Now the district is making more of an effort to place teacher who have been nonrenewed by principals but still have good evaluation scores. At the end of this last year, a lot of teachers were let go for all kinds of reasons. Most of them had great evaluations scores. Nearly all were rehired at different schools. The problem that I have here in TN is that the evaluation is so subjective and even with great scores, if the principal wants you out, all they need to do is click on a button and submit.
     
  24. bhjm

    bhjm New Member

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    Exactly. I may have her look into that. Affording a lawyer upfront isn't a problem as I have a decent job. What school district are you in if you don't mind me asking? Or the area? Are there any positions posted for there? We are in east TN.
     
  25. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The good news is there is usually a SWARM of last-minute hiring at the end of July to the middle of August. Those are opening caused by teachers who have taken jobs elsewhere and are just now informing their schools. She should be okay.
     
  26. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I was in a small town near Chattanooga.
     
  27. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    FYI - unemployment is paid as an insurance premium. Using the unemployment benefits when you are, in fact, unemployed, would not be something that any place of employment would hold against you. It was the first thing that the school reminded me to do, when I was let go! Although I am working in a private school now, and all is well, I wish I had a union to back me up. Maybe because my dad was a staunch union man, I do believe it is money well spent. Personally, I don't believe that your wife will ever be rehired once let go, and furthermore, why would she want to go back? You have painted a bleak picture of the working conditions and shared it with the world. You never know who reads these boards, or what they can figure out. What is your employment status, if I may ask? Do you have a job that is tethering you to this one town? If not, move to a larger town/city, or just have her make a longer commute for a while to make sure that she likes the new job and it is a good fit, before moving. I drive an hour to work every day, and I am watching for some place closer, but I just traded in my Explorer for a much more fuel efficient car, and it makes the trip about the same, in gas costs, at least.

    I would recommend that your wife secure hard copies of letters of recommendation from administration/supervisors/colleagues from the "bad" school. Promises that people would be happy to write you a letter become more fragile the longer you are out of sight. The truth is that she will need them, so be a little persistent about getting them now, not later. If she had a department supervisor who is not the principal, she will most likely be happy about being able to write a letter. Colleagues will be most likely to write a LOR during this summer break, and then forget about you as fall brings a new class and responsibilities. The old saying or "out of sight, out of mind" is never more true than when you need and request something that takes a little bit of effort to provide.

    If your wife isn't on LinkedIn yet, she should be. The unemployment offices of many states actively work to get you connected to as many possible avenues of employment as possible. It is a digital and social world that we live in, and networking is a highly productive way to look for a new job. I do recommend that she file ASAP - there is a wait period. Perhaps she would qualify for free tuition if she wanted to take more classes to improve her qualifications - some states are very good about that.

    For future reference, make sure that religion is not something that is talked about in the work place. For that matter, I don't discuss age, living arrangements, where I live, my long range plans that could include a move, or anything that might offend - drinking, swearing, morals, and none of those things are particularly problematic in my life; I just try to keep boundaries so that I don't have to know too much about my colleagues, either. If the small town norms are problematic for you and your wife, then make sure your lives can't be scrutinized. That doesn't mean unfriendly, but it does mean having boundaries, especially at work. I will give a colleague support, time, respect, compliments, and a lot more, but I won't swear, go drinking with, party with, or discuss my age or religious affiliations with anyone at work. I am very pleasant, but there are always some things that can be used against you in the right situation, so just keep those things to yourself. I'm old enough to have learned most of this the hard way. Sounds like you are also learning by experience. Please give up on going back to the school she just left and direct positive effort towards getting references and applying in districts that will be a better fit. Many jobs open up even as school starts and beyond - someone always seems to need to transfer, have a baby, etc. I took over in the middle of the year once.

    Best wishes in the hunt.
     

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