Q: What is the purpose of the Peer Assistance and Review program? Why did BFT and BUSD negotiate this program into the contract in 1999?
A: The purpose of the PAR program is to give teachers intensive assistance and a chance to improve when they receive a less than satisfactory evaluation. In that past, the District could move to dismiss a teacher for cause with no opportunity for the teacher to receive support and to improve. The goal for all PAR Referred Teachers is for them to receive high quality coaching and feedback to allow them to meet the California Standards for the Teaching Profession and to exit the PAR program.
Q: How does a teacher get referred to PAR?
A: Teachers are referred to PAR if their evaluation indicates three or more of the California Standards for the Teaching Profession to be rated as “Improvement Needed”, or if one or more of the standards is rated “Unsatisfactory”.
Q: What due process rights do teachers have under the evaluation process?
A: Teachers have a right to be informed that they will be evaluated by September 30th, and they have the right to be observed at least two times (or three in the case of PAR Referred Teachers, or teachers who may be referred to PAR) by their evaluator. After each observation there must be a post-observation conference within five working days and at this conference the teacher has the right to expand upon and clarify the intent and goal of the lesson. Teachers also have the right to respond in writing to any evaluation report, and to request that their response be attached to the original document.
Q: What happens when a teacher is referred to PAR?
A: When a teacher is referred to PAR an improvement plan is written so that they know exactly what is required to meet the CSTP’s and to be exited from the PAR program. Teachers are assigned a Consulting Teacher whose job it is to provide intensive and specific coaching and support in line with the improvement plan. The evaluator, the Consulting Teacher and the Referred Teacher meet periodically to provide the Referred Teacher with timely reports of progress being made.
Q: What is the B-PAR Governing Panel and what is their role?
A: The B-PAR Governing Panel oversees the PAR and BTSA programs in BUSD, as well as the alternative evaluation program. It is made up of four teachers appointed by BFT and three administrators appointed by BUSD. When a teacher is referred to PAR the panel receives information from THREE sources: the Referred Teacher, the Consulting Teacher and the evaluator (through written and oral reports). At the end of a teacher’s year in PAR the panel makes a recommendation to the Superintendent. They can recommend that the teacher be exited from PAR because they are meeting the CSTP’s, that the teacher have another year of PAR support, or that further assistance and remediation will not be successful and that the District consider dismissal if appropriate.
Q: What are a teacher’s due process rights if they are referred to PAR?
A: The teacher has the right to be present for his/her mid and end of year reports to the panel by the Consulting Teacher and the evaluator, and has the opportunity to speak directly to the panel about these reports. The teacher has the right to review all reports written by the evaluator and the Consulting Teacher, and to have his/her comments attached. The Referred Teacher has the right to timely reports of progress being made, and the right to request a different Consulting Teacher if they so desire.
Q: How does the panel make their decisions?
A: The panel carefully weighs ALL of the information they have received and then, in keeping with Article 19.4.2 of the contract, the panel attempts to reach consensus. It is rare that the panel does not reach consensus. If a vote is needed, the report of the vote only includes the number of panel members voting on each side of the question.
Q: What support does BFT provide to teachers regarding their evaluation?
A: BFT carefully investigates any concerns teachers have that the evaluation procedures outlined in Article 15 of the contract have not been followed. In keeping with Article 15, Section 9.1 of our contract, BFT can grieve the procedures of an evaluation, but we cannot grieve the contents of evaluations.
Q: What support does BFT provide to teachers who are referred to PAR.
A: All PAR Referred Teachers receive a detailed letter from BFT in August outlining the many ways we are available to support them in this process. At least two BFT officers are available at all times to provide consultation and support to any BFT members referred to PAR.
Q: What rights do teachers have if the District initiates the dismissal process?
A: Teachers who are referred to PAR for assistance retain all of their due process rights under the California Education Code. Teachers have a right to a hearing before a Panel on Professional Competence, and they have the right to be represented by legal counsel at this hearing. At this proceeding, both the teacher and the District present evidence and argumentation and both parties have the right to bring in the testimony of witnesses and to provide written briefs. An Administrative Law Judge appointed by the State Conciliation and Mediation Service chairs the panel. After the hearing the panel makes a decision.