We’ve been asked many times about the Attendance Criterion on the Marshall Rubrics (F. Professional Responsibilities, a.) – specifically why it isn’t a violation of our contractual agreement to negatively evaluate us (with a 1 or 2 on the rubric) for being out of school a number of days that we are contractually allowed.
The simple and straight-forward answer is that the law which created this evaluative process makes the rubrics approved by the State non-negotiable. While we’ve been repeatedly explaining to district administrators both directly and through our representatives in the District Evaluation Advisory Committee (DEAC) that teachers can still be very effective if they have to miss school for sickness, family illness and/or the loss of family members, so far they have been unwilling to make any changes to the “companion guide” created by DEAC. That “companion guide” identifies that only Personal Days will not be included in our total absences.
Throughout the year we’ve met with other districts using Marshall, and while some of them are in the same boat as we are, other district administrators have agreed to offer companion guides that do not account for Family Illness or lengthy sick periods in computing the final rating on that criterion.
The problem is that in those districts the administration wasn’t compelled or forced into offering those exceptions, they simply agreed that it was the decent and fair thing to do. Our administration through DEAC has not reached the same conclusion – and legally we have no power to force them to do so. We are, however, in consultation with our lawyers and NJEA to consider a possible Grievance of this one criterion on the basis that a lower evaluative rating might be construed as a violation of our Contract. The only reason we are slightly hesitant to file this particular Grievance without the agreement of NJEA is because any legal rulings on aspects of this law would be final and apply to the entire State. NJEA is fighting many of the applications of this law on the State level, and we want to make sure that anything we do helps, rather than hinders their efforts.