High-quality teaching is essential to move the Jefferson County Public School district toward increased excellence. Administration, parents, staff and the entire community maintain high expectations for quality instruction in our schools. Ensuring a high level of quality sometimes requires difficult, but diligent, decision making. State law and common sense require that as superintendent, I exercise my responsibility to ensure that only the very best teachers are employed and working in our classrooms -- this includes exercising the responsibility provided under Kentucky law not to renew some employment contracts.
I do not take these decisions lightly; however, our bottom line is about educating children and ensuring that only the best and most qualified teachers are leading instruction.
The contract of a limited contract teacher expires at the end of each school year. Pursuant to state law, I, as superintendent, must determine whether or not those teachers will be rehired for a subsequent school year.
This year, 21 non-tenured teachers in the district received nonrenewal notices based on documented poor performance, misconduct or repeated disciplinary problems. Each of those teachers was employed on a one-year contract, and that contract had expired. The Jefferson County Teachers Association has continued to protest my decision to exercise the right provided under Kentucky law not to renew these limited contract teachers despite arbitration and court rulings that clearly uphold my ability to take this action. They also have moved their concern to the next level by filing suit in Jefferson Circuit Court on behalf of these teachers.
JCTA also has distributed misinformation both internally and to the community at large about this situation. JCTA has attempted to remove the focus on the poor performance and repeated misconduct of these teachers who were not renewed. They have tried to divert the public's attention from the true reason for these actions by playing the race card, which is despicable.
We cannot account for the inaccurate numbers that JCTA is publishing. Even in its own publication, The Action, and in The Courier-Journal, both on May 14, JCTA
president Brent McKim is quoted as saying there are 20 teachers who were not
renewed for performance reasons. According to JCPS records, there were over
2,000 non-tenured teachers last year. Of those, 21 teachers' contracts were non-renewed due to poor performance, repeated misconduct or disciplinary measures. Of those, only five are African American.
It is important to point out the other inaccuracies of JCTA's arguments:
JCTA contends that the collective bargaining agreement covers nonrenewal of limited contracts; however, previous arbitration awards and court decisions have clearly recognized that nonrenewal of limited contracts is not addressed in the collective bargaining agreement and that a labor arbitrator may not supersede the superintendent's statutory authority to not renew a limited contract.
JCTA asserts that the nonrenewal is the equivalent of termination or discipline under the discipline clause in the collective bargaining agreement. The fact is that nonrenewal of a limited contract and termination are two separate actions. When teachers are non-renewed, they work through the end of their contract period and are simply not rehired for a subsequent school year.
JCTA does not acknowledge the difference between tenured and non-tenured teachers.
JCTA claims that these teachers were not told the reasons they were not renewed.
The fact is that in compliance with state law, as superintendent, I provided each teacher upon request with a written statement of the reasons for nonrenewal.
The facts relating to these 21 teachers are as follows:
Each teacher was employed under and signed a one-year limited contract that clearly expired at the end of the 2007-08 school year.
Each teacher's performance was monitored, and he/she was provided multiple support systems for improvement.
Each teacher's situation was reviewed on an individual basis.
Each teacher's contract was not renewed based on legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons, including performance issues, repeated disciplinary problems and/or other misconduct.
The reason a non-tenured teacher receives and signs a one-year contract is to give the administration the opportunity to judge the quality of the performance of a teacher and to make a decision about that teacher's future with the district. In
fact, in order to improve the quality of our teaching faculty, nonrenewal of some non-tenured teachers is essential.
I stand firm in my belief that the district has acted within the provisions of Kentucky law and that our decision not to renew these limited-contract teachers was based on the best interest of students, parents and the entire community.
SHELDON H. BERMAN
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This from Sheldon Berman in the C-J:
Superintendent explains staff decisions
Meanwhile, JCTA President Brent McKim grabs a law book and trots out discrimination...also in the C-J.