Q&A on new ‘open market’ transfer plan
Mar 16, 2006 4:09 PM

So you want to switch schools?
The Department of Education has said that members can now demonstrate their displeasure by “voting with their feet.” In plain language, if you are not happy with your school or principal this a new “open market” transfer plan gives all members in a school the opportunity to apply to leave. See job postings here.

This plan, spelled out in the new contract, replaces the seniority, integration, clinical and SBO transfer plans. All schools will now use this new plan, which should provide more opportunities for transfer by requiring that all vacancies get posted. Individuals can apply to any and all vacancies for which they are appropriately licensed. The new plan also redefines the term “vacancy” in such a way as to ensure that new appointees are no longer vulnerable to being bumped from their schools.
The following “Q&A” is meant to address the most commonly asked questions about the new transfer plan and excessing procedures.
Q. When will the transfer period begin and how will I be able to learn about vacancies?
A. The DOE will begin to post vacancies accessible via the DOE Web site (www.nycenet.edu) beginning March 20. As principals continue to learn of vacancies they will be added to the site. When a position has been offered and accepted the vacancy will be removed from the site.
Q. Is there a minimum period of time vacancies will be posted?
A. The DOE is telling principals that vacancies should be posted for a meaningful amount of time - at least 7 calendar days.
Q. What is the definition of a vacancy under the new plan?
A. A vacancy is now defined as a position to which no teacher has been appointed, except where a non-appointed teacher is filling in for an appointed teacher on a leave of absence. Vacancies will be created as a result of growth (positions newly created due to anticipated enrollment growth or qualification for a new grant), retirements and resignations.
Q. Will schools really be able to project their vacancies for September of 2006 as early as March 20?
A. While the DOE is committed to getting school allocations out earlier than ever before — April 24 is their target date — a number of positions posted in the spring will likely be based on anticipated retirements. Schools can advertise and select staff to fill projected vacancies, but a transfer won’t become final until an actual slot becomes vacant (called an approved vacancy).
Q. It sounds like schools may be adding and deleting vacant positions throughout the spring and summer, is that right?
A. Yes. For that reason, it’s advisable that those interested in securing a transfer regularly check the vacancy postings. The new plan also allows you to apply to a school that hasn’t posted a vacancy in the event one later develops.
Q. How do I apply?
A. First you’ll be asked to complete an online registration form. To do this you’ll have to create a user ID and password. Once you do this you’ll be able to electronically apply to any and all vacancies in your current license area. Remember, you will also be able to apply to transfer to schools that have not advertised a vacancy. If you choose to do this your application will be kept on file should a vacancy subsequently arise. Upon submitting an application you’ll receive back an e-mail that confirms its receipt. Additionally, candidates may be considered through job fairs which will be posted on line.
Q. How will schools know that I’ve applied?
A. Each school will have an online mailbox. It will contain the applications of candidates interested in transferring to the school.
Q. Once I apply to transfer to an advertised vacancy, what happens next?
A. Every school is required to form a Human Resources Committee comprised of pedagogues and administration. The committee will meet to decide the candidates it wants to interview. The committee is not required to interview all applicants. The committee’s ultimate responsibility is to make a hiring recommendation to the principal. The final decision is made by the principal. If successful, you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation of your transfer.
Q. Will I need a release from my current principal to accept a transfer to a new school?
A. While the selection of candidates may be made at any time, transfers secured through August 7 do not require a release.
Q. Will my principal know that I’ve applied for a transfer?
A. Not necessarily. The newly developed electronic transfer application system does not include an automatic notification to your current principal. Of course, nothing stops one principal from phoning another to get his/her opinion.
Q. Will I be asked to sign anything?
A. Both the principal offering a position and the employee accepting the offer will be asked to sign a new form entitled an “Agreement to Accept Open Market Transfer.” The document is binding on both parties. That means once the principal signs the form the offer cannot be withdrawn unless the vacancy is withdrawn due to budgetary issues. By the same token, once the employee signs he/she cannot rescind the transfer. After August 7 an individual may rescind a transfer provided that:

    •    The former principal approves his/her return to the school;
    •    The new principal approves the release.
Q. I know under the former seniority and integration plans you could not secure a transfer if you had received an unsatisfactory rating in the previous three years. Is that still the case?
A. No. All pedagogues are entitled to pursue a transfer.
Q. Who’s covered by the new transfer plan?
A. All those previously covered by the seniority, integration, SBO and clinical transfer plans. An open market plan is currently being developed for paraprofessionals.
Q. I know there was a 5% limit on the number of appointed teachers as well as a 25% limit on the number of appointed teachers in a particular license area who could transfer out of a school. Are these limits still in place?
A. No. The open market system places no limit on the percentage of people who may transfer out of a school.
Q. Can I still apply for a hardship transfer that relates to an issue of safety, medical need or excessive travel?

A. Yes. This must be done in writing. Applications, which can be downloaded from the DOE’s Division of Human Resources Web site (www.nycenet.edu/Offices/DHR/ToolsResources/DHRForms.htm) should be sent to:
The Division of Human Resources
N.Y.C. Department of Education
65 Court St. - Room 811
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Q. Is my salary something that a school’s Human Resources Committee and/or principal should be considering when evaluating my candidacy for a vacant position?
A. Absolutely not, although this is a common misconception. If a successful candidate earns more than a school’s average teacher salary or the salary of the person they’re replacing the region makes up the difference. If a candidate earns less than a school’s average salary or the person they’re replacing the region captures the difference. In other words, there’s neither an incentive nor a disincentive attached to a candidate’s salary.

Q. What can I do if I believe I was denied a transfer based on my age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, handicapping condition or union activity?
A. You should consider filing a grievance citing a violation of Article Two (“Fair Practices”) of the Agreement.
Q. How will hiring be done at new, redesigned and phasing out schools?
A. This hasn’t changed. Hiring will still be done by a Personnel Committee comprised of two union representatives, two representatives designated by the superintendent, a principal or project director, and where appropriate a School Planning Committee Representative and a parent.
Q. What happens if my school is impacted by the opening of a brand-new first-year school in my building?
A. If another school is impacted (i.e., closing or being phased out), the staff from the impacted school is still guaranteed the right to apply and be considered for positions in the new school. If sufficient numbers of displaced staff apply, at least fifty percent of the new school’s pedadgogical positions must be selected from among the appropriately licensed most senior applicants from the impacted school who meet the new school’s qualifications.
Q. What if there are still vacancies to be filled?
A. Any remaining vacancies are to be filled by the Personnel Committee from among transfer applicants, excessed staff and/or new hires. Candidates must hold appropriate credentials.
Please note: At present there is a disagreement between the DOE and the union over the rights of staff in impacted (closing or phasing out) buildings which have schools in their second, third or fourth year of phasing in. The department position is that the requirement that these schools also take 50% of the qualified senior staff in these buildings no longer exists. The union disagrees with that position and will fight to preserve the rights of our members working in these schools.
Q. If I’m in a phasing out or closing school and am told I’m being excessed, do I have the right to designate five schools in my district/superintendency that I want to be excessed to?
A. No. You have the same rights accorded to any excessed person. You have the right to seek vacancies anywhere in the city via the open market transfer system. (A fuller discussion of the new excessing provision appears below.)
Q. What happens to me if I’m in an impacted school and I either don’t apply or apply and am not selected to fill a vacancy in the new, redesigned or expanding school in my building?
A. If you are notified that you are in excess and either don’t apply to the new, redesigned or expanding school in your building, or apply and are not selected, you are covered by the new excessing provisions.
Q. What are the new excessing provisions?
A. While who gets excessed in an excessing situation remains exactly the same, what happens to a person in excess has changed. The new contract requires that by June 15 or as soon thereafter as possible, principals must notify staff that they are at risk of being excessed. An excessed teacher may apply for vacancies citywide as well as attend hiring fairs. A teacher who is unable to secure his/her own position, or who chooses not to, the DOE may place in a vacancy in his/her district/superintendency unless a principal denied the placement; if such a vacancy is not available, then in a vacancy within his/her region. Again, this placement is subject to the receiving principal’s OK. The DOE will place an excessed teacher who does not secure a transfer or a DOE directed placement in an ATR position in the school from which he/she is being excessed, or in another school in the same district or superintendency.
Q. If I’m excessed and I get a transfer through the open market transfer plan do I still have the right of return if a vacancy occurs in my former school within a year of the date I was excessed?
A. The union’s position is that the right of return still exists and if necessary we’ll fight to see that members retain this right.
Q. I heard that the DOE originally sought to give an excessed person 18 months to find his/her own position, and if unsuccessful, face lay-off. Is that still what an excessed person faces?
A. No. The union succeeded in defeating this proposal.
Q. The new excessing procedure sounds like a no lay-off provision. Is it?
A. Yes. Excessed members are guaranteed the right to a position either in a new school or in their old school or district/superintendency as an ATR.
Q. Then if excessed, a person can’t be forcibly moved to another region. Is that correct?
A. It’s correct for those working in elementary and middle schools. Since the high school superintendencies span across many regions it’s not necessarily the case for high school personnel.
Q. Does the union plan to provide assistance in this new process?
A. Yes, the borough offices will be holding workshops for members on how to write a resume and how to engage in an interview. They also will have staff available to answer questions.
Q. Is there a place I can secure help if I’ve been repeatedly unsuccessful in obtaining a transfer or a regular teaching position after being excessed?
A. Upon request you’ll be able to receive individualized assistance from the DOE’s Division of Human Resources and/or the UFT’s Peer Intervention Program on how to maximize your chances of success in being selected for a transfer. 1