Writing Your Letter to the Superintendent Appealing Your Discontinuance

When you get a letter from your superintendent regarding a discontinuance, you will usually be given 7-15 days to submit a letter asking the superintendent to not discontinued your employment with the DOE. In this hard time, it’s easy to get emotional and not be able to think of anything to write other than: “Please do not do this! Don’t ruin my life.”

However there are a few important standards you must abide by if you want to be taken seriously by the Superintendent in letter form. We’ve gathered a few of the important ones. Please email us at donttreadoneducationnyc@gmail.com if you need further assistance with your appeal letter.

Some General Tips:

1. Outline your argument (I should NOT be discontinued!) using relevant, low-inference data and information that proves you to be a highly effective teacher (eg: did you collaborate in teacher teams? have leadership roles in your school? high Regents pass rate? great with parent outreach?)

2. Do NOT blame or attack students, parents, colleagues, UFT people, and administration in your letter. An angry letter will earn you no points (Example of a No-no: To say that they are a difficult group of students would be an understatement. From the very beginning of the year the students themselves expressed joy in the fact that many teachers from the previous year had not returned, a few of which they credited to their own actions. As the year progressed and students continued to test their boundaries they could easily sense a faulty system of discipline procedures that could be used to distract and degrade any possibility of a cohesive classroom experience. Many students took advantage of the varying levels of compliance my coworkers and I were able to maintain in our classrooms and when it was brought to the attention of our administrators very little besides documentation was accomplished.)

3. If your observations or letter to file show discrepancies, in your rebuttal letters SAY what the errors in those reports are and correct them! (Example of what TO WRITE: Key C4—Attention to Records and Reports, I disagree with her observation on April 30 and May 15, 2013, which imply that I failed to differentiate the lesson according to “assessment data.”  On both days, students were given differentiated worksheets with various historical and contemporary article headlines on them. Instruction was broken down as follows:

 

Tier 3 students were given five article headlines. Beneath each headline, a two-sentence summarizing the issue described within the article. Students synthesize the article in their own words and, in a matching-column activity, match the each headline with an effect of the event on a public opinion.

Tier 2 students were given six different article headlines. Beneath each headline, a four-sentence explaining the article is listed and summarizes the article. Students synthesize the article in their own words and make predictions how this article influenced public opinion of the global, national, or local issue described in the article.

Tier 1 students were given six different article headlines. Beneath each headline, a four-sentence explaining the article is listed and summarizes the article. Students make predictions how this article influenced public opinion of the global, national, or local issue described in the article. In two paragraphs, students describe whether each article had an effect on public opinion locally, nationally, internationally, or all the above.)

 

4. If you sought out support to improve your teaching or classroom management, please say so in the letter. (Example: “As per Principal X’s suggestions I met with the consultant from Ramapo for Children each month and set goals for improving my classroom culture. I met with my mentor weekly to go over my lesson plans. I have attached copies of our sessions to this letter.”)

5. Please attach documents to the letter, label them as appropriate (Item A, B, C ect), and cite them in your letter.  These documents will be helpful in supporting your case.

6. Have a colleague proof-read your letter before mailing it out.

Also read UFT Solidarity’s uftsolidarity.org/discontinued

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14 Comments

  1. Come now!! Do you really think this particular article is going to help any teacher really get their job back? When a superintendant makes up her mind to fire a teacher thats it. I have yet to hear of one case where a letter made the difference. I for one wrote an outstanding letter, clearly describing my effective EOY ratings and test scores, not to mention the scores of contributions I had made to the school, including Donors Choose work and outside workshops that I had participated in. Today I got nothing more than a formal slap in the face confirming my discontinuance with not even an acknowledgement of what I had done to help the school. Whoever wrote this article is obviously a tenured teacher living in la-la land.

    • Cesar PARIS YARLEQUE

      I agree with you, once they have decided to discontinue a teacher, there is nothing that can be done to convince the superintendent otherwise. The best solution to avoid it, is just to come prepared to teach and be a good teacher. If a teacher is given a hard a time at work for no reason, or discrimination he or she should report it immediately. Do not allow under any circumstances an administrator to treat you unfairly when you are performing your job exemplary. Some principals are prejudiced and discriminate teachers, they have personal issues and are unhappy, so, once again, my advice to the teachers, please report any abuse because if you do not, the administrators will tread on you.

    • I agree 100% teachers do not defend yourself but get on the offensive it is scam and they are crooks and criminals that need to be told so

  2. From my experience the Superintendent will never even read the letter. Once you get the 30 day notice its over. The DOE appeal is an even bigger joke. The same Superintendent that discontinued you will just reaffirm his decision.

    • Member Support for UFT Solidarity

      Dan,

      Yes, you are unfortunately correct. At DTOE, we cannot hope to change the corrupt status quo of the DOE unless we make changes to reform the leadership of the UFT. Once we have a union that works for the teachers again, then we will start to see these discontinuances become a thing of the past.

      What do you propose we do? Simply tell members who email us, “Oh sorry, we cannot help you?” At Member Support, we are honest with the teachers who come to use for help. The very least that we can do is try to help them stay calm and walk them through what to expect when they are discontinued.

  3. Member Support for UFT Solidarity

    Rachel,

    We do have one known instance in which the superintendent did not discontinue an untenured teacher. While most discontinuances do not get overturned via the UFT or DOE, if the teacher chooses to file an Article 78 or Ed Law 310 appeal, having an eloquent letter to the superintendent can serve as a basis for a well-crafted appeal to NYS Civil Supreme Court.

    There are teachers who have settled with the DOE through an Article 78, 310 appeal, or PERB complaint. In this article, can you find me any mention that this letter will “help any teacher really get their job back.” Those of us who were discontinued know that we are in the majority of the lost cases. The system is corrupt and capricious. Unless we change things in the UFT leadership, NOTHING will change and the status quo will continue.

    Since you say that you have “an outstanding letter,” would you mind emailing it to a representative to Member Support so we can use your letter as a template to help members who are considering suing the DOE to get reinstated?

    • I feel a little uncomfortable emailing what could be a future legal doc to be viewed by the public as you may understand. Please note that I kept the letter to one page, and devotedtwo large paragraphs pitching both my academic accomplishments with the students and school cmty accomplishments. I also discussed in a brief paragraph how much working with the kids from this district meant to me. Not that it matters. If the principal wants to write me off as a failure, his is the only opinion that will matter

  4. Dedicated Teacher

    Rachel,

    I believe I heard that all court documents are public documents…anyone can search it, with the exception if matrimonial cases. If you want to keep your information private, you might not want to file any court cases or consider settling.

    To Member Support:
    Members have to be persistent to get support from Doe UFT. It’s a shame and I agree that we probably need better leaders. I have met both good union reps and “bad” ones. You know a bad rep when they tell you not to file complaints or be quiet when your rights are being violated.

  5. I don’t teach in the school system but have a relative impacted by this current state of affairs. Her sad story is that her principal did not participate, wants to keep her, she has an effective rating and is still getting discontinued! I suggest a class action lawsuit, period.

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