Teachers who have lost their jobs at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have been complaining that the district won't even let their principals provide references for them.
Actually, they can, but they have to follow a carefully prescribed process, with CMS's Human Resources department signing off on everything that principals write.
The following memo was sent to all principals on May 11. A little context first: While some teachers were targeted for layoffs because they got subpar job evaluations, others are viewed as excellent by colleagues, students, parents -- even Superintendent Peter Gorman and school board members who know them.
They've been cut because their circumstances fit certain layoff criteria; for instance, part-timers, retirees and teachers who were working on end-of-year contracts.
Here's the reference memo (for those not used to CMS terms, "learning communities" are the seven administrative offices that oversee groups of schools):
Dear CMS Principals,
These are difficult times for all CMS employees—especially those who have been affected by the reduction in force ( RIF). Many principals have inquired about the board policy related to providing letters of reference. The policy does allow staff to provide letters of reference.
However, it is important to remember that you are not required to provide a letter of reference—it is strictly voluntary. There are specific guidelines that must be followed in order to be in compliance with the policy.
Board policy GBJC says that all requests for employee references are to be coordinated with Human Resources before responding to such inquiries. Below is the process for providing a reference to employees affected by the reduction in force.
The reference letter must be prepared in collaboration with your learning community HR manager, who will provide a template and final review of the reference letter before it is forwarded to any third party. A final copy of the letter must be sent to the HR manager, who will keep it on file;
The reference letter must be in response to a written request from an employee who has been terminated (or has received notice of termination) as a result of the district's current reduction in force process;
The written request from the employee must identify the person who will receive the reference letter; do not provide a "to whom it may concern" letter;
The reference letter must be true and accurate and match your most recent written evaluation of the employee;
The reference letter should not give personal opinions or feelings; if you make subjective statements or give opinions because they are requested, clearly identify them as opinion;
The reference letter must respond only to specific inquiries; do not volunteer information.
These guidelines are in place to protect everyone involved. These employees deserve a credible reference and an efficient process. If you have any questions please contact your learning community HR manager.
- Ann Doss Helms