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District adjusts teacher transfer rules


School and union leaders hammer out first steps to improve policy

Teachers and parents got their first look this week at the Beaverton School District’s adjusted teacher transfer process.

District administrators and the Beaverton Education Association have been working on the changes for months after the process came under fire at the beginning of the school year, following the loss of 344 employee positions and subsequent transfers of 365 teachers to new positions.

“While we cannot undo the loss of 344 employees and teacher transfers due to inadequate funding this year, there are some adjustments we can make now,” said Maureen Wheeler, district spokeswoman, in a release to staff and the community on Tuesday.

One caveat to the announcement warned it was unlikely teachers would be able to return to their previous teaching positions.

“However, the following agreements may provide them with access to positions they feel better match their experience,” Wheeler said.

A group of parents who recently organized to reinvigorate Beaverton Stand for Children praised the revisions to the transfer policies.

“Everyone is in agreement that last summer’s layoffs put the district’s teachers, students and parents in a very difficult and stressful position,” stated a release from the group on Tuesday afternoon.

The group called the proposed changes important first steps to making sure every classroom in Beaverton is led by a qualified and motivated educator.

“While this does not undo the damage of last fall’s transfers, we are moving forward,” said Stand for Children leader Susan Greenberg. “We will continue to work with the district to find solutions to this and other challenges facing our school community.”

Immediate changes

Superintendent Jeff Rose and Sue Robertson, who serves as the district’s chief human resources officer, sat down Tuesday morning to explain the changes that will go into effect following winter break.

Teachers in January 2013 will be asked to fill out a survey about their specialized language skills, specialized program training and assignment preferences for the 2013-14 school year, Robertson said.

Beginning in February, principals may transfer teachers within their schools into grades or subject areas more suited to their experience.

For example, a humanities and a science teacher may approach their principal with a request to return to their specialized subject areas and swap positions within their school. The request will then be considered by the district’s human resources team. If the teachers are appropriately licensed and meet federal “highly qualified” standards, the transfer would be effective Feb. 4, at the beginning of the second semester.

“Transfers can be initiated by principals, who will check with the affected employees to see if they are in agreement,” Robertson said. “Teachers can also approach their principal with a request to switch assignments.

“If the three agree, they can bring the request to HR.”

Beginning March 1, the district will begin its staffing process for the 2013-14 school year. Using teacher input from the January survey, Robertson’s team and school principals will attempt to assign teachers into subject areas and grade levels in which they meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements.

At that same time, teachers on leave will be asked to notify the district of their intent to return to the classroom in the fall.

If the staffing process is completed before July, principals will be able to review the teacher transfer list and recommend adjustments for their buildings prior to the final announcements to staff. If the district meets that July 1 deadline, teachers would also have the opportunity to apply for transfers to any open positions before they are filled by teachers who are laid off.

Placements will be finalized by July 18, district officials said.