July 25 2013 12:00 AM

School board unanimously adopts new policies on teacher layoffs, recalls, placement and evaluations; says administration has more work to do on regulations


Thursday, July 25 — The Lansing Board of Education unanimously adopted new policies regarding the layoffs, recalls, placements and evaluations of teachers at a special meeting tonight. However, the board had some concerns with the regulations that carry out the policies and asked the administration to rework them.

The policies had to be put in place because of a state law that was passed in July 2011, but because the district had an existing contract with the teachers’ union, the Lansing Schools Education Association, that law didn’t apply until the contract expired on July 1 of this year.

In the past, teacher layoffs, recalls and placements were based on seniority. That is no longer the case. The new policies are guided by the state law and put new emphasis on student achievement and teacher evaluations as the basis for layoffs, recalls and placement.

The policies dictate the goals and intentions of the school board. Included with each policy are administrative regulations that detail how those board policies will be carried out.

At the meeting tonight, the board said it was not happy with certain aspects of the regulations, so they asked the administration to get more input from teachers and the board and rework the regulations.

An issue that will need to be addressed involves the teacher placement regulations. The regulation states: “Not in order of priority or importance, factors that may be considered … in the process include, but are not limited to, the following:” It then lists 15 factors.

“It’s saying ‘not limited to.’ It’s saying ‘may,’ not ‘shall.’ With that kind of language, a principal in the same building could use different criteria for different staff,” said board member Myra Ford. “That’s just not equitable and it’s not objective. It leaves the door open for misuse of the criteria.”

Several teacher performance factors were also too vague for the board and will need to be reworked by the administration, including “Significant, relevant accomplishments and contributions” and “Consistent preparation to maximize instructional time.”

“It’s not standard practice that we approve regulations, but in cases where we are displeased with them, we do have mechanisms to send them back to the administration for further review and that’s what we did tonight,” said board member Peter Spadafore, who also chairs the Policy Committee.

The board could have vetoed the regulations, Spadafore said, but it didn’t want to delay the administration from starting the process of placing teachers for the next school year.

“The board has illustrated that we’re not ready to call these the regulations that will stand for the next year,” he said. “We’re asking the administration to go back, take some input and try again.”

The administration will present the reworked regulations at the next Policy Committee meeting and again at the next regular school board meeting on Aug. 15.