Thursday, June 18, 2009

No references for laid-off teachers?

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

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is standard procedure for every company.

Anonymous said...

actually it isn't standard procedure for every company. You can say "for my company" but don't speak for all.

Anonymous said...

Standard for companies following best practices. Good to see CMS has their stuff together.

Anonymous said...

And you wonder why the school system has no money.....'learning community HR managers' and a multi-tiered bureaucracy just to get a letter of recommendation.......

Meghan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This typical CMS bureaucracy and bull. These layers of management that micro-manage need to go. Fire about 75% of the these office staff that have to dictate the contents of such things as letters of reference and then shuffle copies of them around - fire them! Then you can keep a teacher in the classroom. It's asinine!

Anonymous said...

So where is the listing for these 250 new jobs? The CMS online listings only give about 20 max.

Is sombody lying? Are they all certified teachers?

Somebodys facts are unsubstantiated but dont let them get in the way of the truth.

Anonymous said...

Cut all adminstrators pay 50% !!!

Cut all pre-K free babysitting services.

Kindergarten babysitting may need to be cut too.

Anonymous said...

This is just typical of CMS... Teachers work their A$$es off and some, for reasons out of their control (part time, end of year, etc) are laid off and they don't even give a letter of reference?

Also- what is the likelyhood of a principal writing multiple letters as one would need if they were actively looking at several other districts? Because that is what this article is saying would need to happen-

I thank god still have my job but I do feel bad for those that don't!

Anonymous said...

What kind of stupidity is going on in CMS, its clear educating children is not the focus in Charlotte, NC....I am glad my children are not in CMS schools...

Anonymous said...

In the west learning community, we would say that this is Dr. Cooper's way of making sure those she doesn't like continue to go through hell no matter how great a teacher they are! CMS is corrupt...

Anonymous said...

Typical CMS policy. Whatever it takes to protect their (higher ups)behinds. All lip service and no true action. Layoff employees with an "oh, I'm sorry" attitude, then post their jobs, and then no reference. Like I said, all to protect their behinds. How about laying off the higher ups that have absolutely nothing to due with daily interactions of the student (ie the center office, area superintedents). Of course, this would be too much, they are praised and rewarded on the backs of the teachers, the ones that actually meet and have interactions with the students daily. Yet, it is the teachers that are losign their jobs, not them.

Anonymous said...

No references, or approved only a per request basis... This is absolutely NOT standard procedure, anywhere.

It is usually expected and acceptable for a reference to be addressed to whom it may concern.

It is ludicrous that the staff must first identify who the letter should be addressed to before anyone at CMS may write a reference.

Simply, CMS would like to ensure that the verbiage used in these letters does not fuel the fire for several hundred unemployment claims. I am quite sure Mecklenburg county has a direct interest in that as well.

Human resource is a division within a corporation set to protect the rights and interests of THAT corporation. Not the rights and interests of former employees. No favors are being granted here.

Legally, an individual can write a personal reference for a former co-worker or employee. They are usually regarded in the same manner from the interviewing company. Minus the legal backwash from the outgoing HR people.

Interesting how many people misunderstand the legalities regarding a simple process such as a reference letter.

A good point of reference. If you are available for rehire. You should be awarded a reference. Period.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely NOT standard procedure, anywhere.

It is usually expected and acceptable for a reference to be addressed to whom it may concern.

It is ludicrous that the staff must first identify who the letter should be addressed to before anyone at CMS may write a reference.

Simply, CMS would like to ensure that the verbiage used in these letters does not fuel the fire for several hundred unemployment claims. I am quite sure Mecklenburg county has a direct interest in that as well.

Human resource is a division within a corporation set to protect the rights and interests of THAT corporation. Not the rights and interests of former employees. No favors are being granted here.

Legally, an individual can write a personal reference for a former co-worker or employee. They are usually regarded in the same manner from the interviewing company. Minus the legal backwash from the outgoing HR people.

Interesting how many people misunderstand the legalities regarding a simple process such as a reference letter.

A good point of reference. If you are available for rehire. You should be awarded a reference. Period.

Anonymous said...

Apparantly, Freedom of speech is ignored. The caviat is that a refernece letter from "CMS" or a CMS rep (principal) should follow the procedure. If one wanted to write a "personal" letter from say, John Doe, and not from the Principal of the school, their freedoms should not be incumbered.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but not at all surprised, to hear about how things are going in the West LC . . .

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