Under Article 21A supervisors can include in your personnel file
letters of a disciplinary or negative nature limited only by whether
they were "unfair" or "inaccurate."
With our new contract, there is no right to grieve these letters. The
principal can write anything he/she wishes without fear that a
grievance procedure will change or delete the letter.
When the U-rating is given the letter can theoretically be challenged
but U-rating appeals are run by DOE supervisors. They will clearly not
provide the forum to remove the letters that our Union has been so
successful in doing at arbitrations.
While there are some very fundamental problems in which LIF grievances
are (should I say were) handled there is no doubt how empowering the
procedure is to the member and the Chapter. The principal and
assistant principal, had to explain and testify to support what they
had written. The grievant and UFT rep. then explained and
testified what really happened.
The grievant can receive a U-rating based on these letters so if the
arbitrator removes or changes the letters in a favorable way she will
be able to keep her job. It is difficult to predict what the arbitrator
will do but at least she had a fair opportunity to confront her
supervisors and demonstrate that these unfair and inaccurate letters
should be removed.
If letters for the file are written today the UFT member would only
have the U-rating appeal to deal with the letters. Not only is there
now no way to prove inaccuracy, but the hearing officer has no reason
to take the teacher’s word over that of a supervisor.