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D.C. Principals' Union Rips Layoffs

The president of the union that represents DCPS principals accused Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee Friday of unfairly leaving school administrators to take the heat for the upcoming round of teacher layoffs, creating "the very real potential of subjecting our members to physical harm and unsafe working conditions."

Aona H. Jefferson, president of the Council of School Officers Local 4, said Rhee has created the misimpression that principals are calling the shots on the reduction in force (RIF) necessitated, the chancellor announced last week, by spending cuts that could reach $40 million.

"The principals do not set their budgets, nor do they have any authority to do this. DCPS controls every aspect of the budgetary process, including final determinations that must be made with respect to job cuts for financial reasons," wrote Jefferson, the former principal of H.D. Woodson High School, whose local represents 653 principals, assistant principals, and other managers and specialists.

"If you are going to claim that there is a budgetary shortfall and cuts are necessary, we do not want our principals to be scapegoats. The ultimate responsibility for these cuts is yours and not that of our hard-working principals," Jefferson wrote. She demanded that adequate security be provided.

"It is reasonable to expect that RIF decisions will be met with an emotional response from some individuals," she said.

Rhee said she had not formally received the letter from the union and would wait to do so before commenting.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  September 25, 2009; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Funny how you never read/hear anyone bashing the administrator's union in the WaPo. Unions must be good except for that lazy bunch of teachers and their union right? Never mind that all these years it hasn't been teachers that are making the decisions about what is going on inside schools, but rather the central office and the administrators. Maybe if people want to scape-goat a union, they should be looking at the Council of School Officers Local 4 instead of the WTU.

Or maybe we could all just grow up and admit that there were problems everywhere and everyone shares in the blame, and should share in the fix. Teachers cannot lay it all at the feet of the administrators, and the administrators and central office (Rhee) cannot lay it all at the feet of the teachers. But don't expect to read a story like that in the WaPo any time soon. The Ed Board would never approve.

Posted by: scinerd1 | September 25, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

A stronger letter should have included the law, what is written in DCMR that makes it clear that a RIF is an agency initiated action. Finally CSO speaks!

Posted by: candycane1 | September 25, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

To Scinerd - so well stated - I think you should send your post straight to the editorial board.

My untamed optimism tells me that the ed. board is uneasy about Rhee's ingenious plan to fire teachers in the middle of the school year and pass off the dirty work to principals.

To Principals -- Principals Unite! Isn't this just about the last straw? Think of the effect you could have if you screwed up your courage as a group and took a stand against this idiocy.

Although I'm pretty sure she'd want to fire the lot of you for insubordination, I'm just as sure she couldn't replace you and any attempts would make BIG NEWS. Teachers are a dime a dozen, but no principal in his/her right mind would drop everything to take your place in the mess Rhee has created. While she’s gone around the country maligning DC teachers, she’s had nothing but praise for the wonders you have been working in the schools since she’s hired you. She won’t get away with changing her tune on this. Unlike firing “bad teachers,” firing “great principals” in the middle of the school year is too wacky.

Besides, if you take this sitting down, what’s next? Firing another batch of poor performers at semester break? Doing push-ups on demand at the next monthly seminar?

Posted by: efavorite | September 26, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Doing push-ups on demand at the next monthly seminar?"

We have a running joke at our school that our wonderful principal can do more chin-ups than all the other principals at "the Academy."

Of course we joke strictly as a coping mechanism. We need our administrator in the building, not off being yelled at by some high-priced consultant.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | September 26, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Chancellor Rhee, looks like your principals are starting to smell your sulfur.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 26, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I am glad you are speaking out in support of administrators; however, too many principals and assistant principals are all too happy to use this opportunity to ATTACK TEACHERS AND OTHERS THAT THEY DO NOT LIKE.

Principals such as the one at Ron Brown (a Rhee favorite) is being true to form and using this opportunity to target teachers in his building. Unfortunately, he is not the only principal who will gladly use this time to exact revenge on teachers.

Principals just remember, once Rhee has used you up--she will come for you. I do not have to remind you of your former colleages who would do ANYTHING TO STAY IN FAVOR WITH RHEE AND WHO ARE NOW GONE, DEMOTED OR FORCED TO RETIRE.

Posted by: OLDINDIAN49 | September 27, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I wish principals would speak out more whether anonymously in media interviews or through their union. They know more about what Rhee is doing because she is giving them the marching orders.

I know principals have every reason to be terrified because Rhee is so vindictive but I am sure there is a way for more of them to speak to the press without the use of their names.

Rhee needs to be exposed.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | September 27, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

The newest principals have been classified as "at will". That makes it even harder to speak. I know folks who were re-classified as at will and fired. It goes something like this. You work all day and at the end of the day you are called in and told your services are no longer needed. If the person asks why, the standard answer at 825 is You're "at will" We are not required to give you an explanation. End of story.

Posted by: candycane1 | September 28, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

scinerd1: the Council of School Officers has been silent until now. If you are silent, who can accuse you of anything. Maybe they are purposely avoiding being bashed. However, it makes you wonder if this union is forcefully trying to support and protect it's members.

Obviously there is no love for the principals either, especially when the Chancellor makes them the firt line of defense in this war she has declared against DCPS. No one is safe. Front line soldiers are trained for combat - not these. They are simply told to call for help.


Posted by: shank2sb | September 28, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Hogwash...has it not been the outcry of the principals "If only I could pick or get-rid of my staff" they are given the chance and all of sudden it is....protect us from the mean ol'witch. I would not be so forthcoming union president of the principals... You weren't all that when you were at Woodson, plainly put she would have been on the chopping block if she was not smart-enough for seeing the writing on the wall. Now, you want protection...why not hire the Peaceaholics with your union dues...I am hearing they are pretty much in limbo...these days. Again I want to see how the veteran principals are handling this RIF "it should be like Christmas in September" finally to vamoose the P-I-T-A.

For those who figured out PITA...congratulations you are text-saavy and probably worth saving if you are a teacher.

Posted by: PowerandPride | September 28, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Its never a month when Rhee is doing something radical or trying to cover her sushi. I am sick of this woman, and she needs to be fired. She continues to burn bridges and further alienate the DPSC. Her and Fenty are awful. I am so glad I left before he got elected. He is a terrible mayor and shiesty politician. Eventually, more dc residents will see only cares about the Glitz and Glamour like Obama.

Posted by: Sincear202 | September 28, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Let's be sure to look at the equity issues when it comes to the distribution of the RIFs. I don't want to see 1 RIF at Wilson but 15 at Anacostia.

Posted by: oknow1 | September 28, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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