Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) Continues to Organize and Fight against “Do Not Hire” List
Members and school staff joined with the Denver community recently to take a stand against the district’s non-renewal and “do not rehire” policy. Over 220 teachers were put on the non-renewal list and an additional 80 were put on the “do not hire” list, preventing them from ever working in the district again. While most districts require egregious activity for an educator to land on these lists, this is not the case for Denver. The vast majority of the teachers who found themselves on one of these lists were probationary employees and individuals let go due to a reduction of staff in their buildings.
DCTA staff had recently begun piloting an advocacy hotline program, and as non-renewed members and individuals called in for advice they were encouraged to sign up to speak during the public comment section of May school board meeting. The final determination of “do not rehire” and non-renewals is at the School Board level. Word of mouth from the members who contacted the advocacy hotline spread like wildfire and members were convened a day prior to the school board meeting to prep for the upcoming meeting. Colleagues and parents, as well as members, were encouraged to speak during the meeting.
The public comments section of the meeting started at 6:00pm and went until 1:00am. Over 100 people spoke in 3 minute increments. As a result of the turnout and comments, the school board delayed – in mass – the approvals of the non-renewals. However, on the following Monday, only 2 out of the 220 were moved off the “do not rehire” list.
At this point, there is some change around the process being entertained; however, DCTA remains unclear of how the process is going to be revamped. Public pressure on the issue continued and a petition was placed on Change.org to ensure that the do no hire policy follows the state norms, that immediate rehire eligibility is granted to those who do not meet the qualifications for “do not rehire,” and that a review with recommendations is made on the hiring recommendations raised at the May 20, 2013 board meeting. As of this story, the petition has over 2700 supporters and 60+ pages of comments of support and importance from teachers, community members, and parents.
DCTA continued by contacting the media to follow up on stories on Ed News and the Denver Post, informing them of the petition. They held a press conference on June 17th to continue public pressure on the district. They followed up that afternoon by delivering over 2700 petitions and a stack of public comments to the Board meeting. The final determination will be made Thursday the 20th.
Phone calls, meetings, online, and social media engagement will continue. This is not a new problem for Denver and they will continue to organize for a long-term solution to empower and mobilize the teachers and staff in Denver.