Friday, February 29, 2008

U-rating Hearing: Procedural Objections

As he promised, the UFT Advisor entered two objections.

1. He had not received the full packet of documents from Principal P. until just before the hearing. He and I did not have a copy of the documents until just before the hearing.

The objection was denied.

2. Principal P. should be at the meeting in person, not by speaker phone.

The objections was denied.

Next Entry: Administrator's Opening Statement

U-rating Appeal - Introduction

I had my U-rating Hearing at the beginning of this month. It might help others who will have hearings in the future to have an idea of what it was like.

My hearing was held at 65 Court Street in Brooklyn in a small office. The "judge" in the hearing is called a "Hearing Officer". The teacher who is appealing the U-rating is called "The Appellant" . The Union provides someone who is not a lawyer, but who is trained to represent teachers. This person is called "The UFT Advisor".

I met with my Advisor about two weeks before the hearing. The Advisor had a folder with one U-rated observation. He asked me if I had had any other letters or U-rated lessons. I did. He had not received them. I gave him all the copies that I had of negative letters and observations in my file and my replies to them . He also asked for any positive letters. There were two. I also showed him excellent work that my students had done as a result of those U-rated lessons.

The Advisor said that principals often left out negative letters and that they would later put them in at the last minute just before the hearing. He would object if they tried to do this, but he would be overruled.

The Advisor also said that the Principal was not required to attend in person, but could be present at the hearing through a conference call. He would also object to her not being there in person, but would probably be overruled on that also.

The Advisor also told me that the teacher rarely won at these hearings, but that I would have a second hearing at which I would be represented by a UFT attorney in front of an arbitrator and at those hearings, the teacher had a better chance of winning.

The day of the hearing I arrived about twenty minutes before the hearing. My advisor had a thick pile of numbered pages. He was making notes based on these pages that he had JUST RECEIVED. There was only one copy. I did not get one.

The Hearing Officer called us into his office a few minutes after 9:00 AM. He took a few minutes to contact the principal and get her on speaker phone. She had two Assistant Principals with her. ( X and Z). Throughout the hearing it was almost impossible to hear Principal P and Assistant Principal X. Assistant Principal Z was more clearly audible. They constantly referred to the numbered copies that I did not have. The Advisor and I passed them back and forth between us.

The Hearing Officer started the hearing by having each of us introduce ourselves by giving our names and our roles in the hearing.

Then he outlined the procedures. They were as follows:

1. Entire session will be recorded. Proper protocol will be adhered to at all time. Please be active listeners and use appropriate voice tone and level at all times. During the proceding you may request to go off record at any point.

3. Procedural Objections-- The proceeding will begin with procedural objections from the UFT Advisor. The Hearing Officer will respond to each objection by sustaining or denying it.

4. Statement of Administrators--The Principal makes statements or stands on the record.

5. Cross Examination of Administrator-- Members of the Administration are cross examined by uft advisor.

6. Opening Statement by Appellant or Advisor-- After cross examination either appellant or advisor is asked to make an opening statement.

7. Cross Examination of Appellant-- Administrators cross examine the appellant.

8. Administrator's closing statement.

9. Appellant's closing statement.

The Hearing lasted for about two hours. I will post a description of each part. It might take a while. It is difficult for me to write about it.

Next: Procedural Objections