Transfer policy formed

April 28, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County teachers would be notified months in advance of an involuntary transfer and be given the chance to address concerns leading up to a such a move under a recommendation to be presented at today's school board meetings.

Meanwhile, principals would be required to work with teachers before transferring them and to tell teachers by letter of the reason for a transfer. And principals also would be given advance notice if the school system was considering transferring them.

The proposals, from a committee set up by Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, come almost a year after he transferred more than 60 principals and teachers involuntarily, drawing the ire of communities unaware that he was considering the transfers.

The recommendations will "improve the process considerably," said Dr. Hickey, who hopes by June to have a final policy on involuntary transfer of teachers and a revised policy on the involuntary transfer of administrators.

Gloriann Mehlman, a high school teacher who was involuntarily transferred last year, is equally pleased.

"I wish we had had this before we got transferred," she said. "What I like most about this is the fact that the principal, if they're going to put [your] name down for a transfer, has to have prior contact and have dialogue [with the teacher] before recommending the transfer."

Last year's moves caused a political uproar against Dr. Hickey and against the school system's procedures for involuntary transfers.

Parents at Mount Hebron High School, which had all three of its administrators transferred, appealed to the state Board of Education.

State Sen. Christopher McCabe, a Republican whose 14th District includes part of Howard County, introduced legislation that would have curbed the school superintendent's power to administratively transfer employees.

The state board denied the parents' appeal, and Senator McCabe withdrew his legislation.

Fifteen people, including parents who were upset about the transfers, and principals and teachers who were transferred themselves, sat on the committee that drafted the proposed changes to the transfer policy.

Among the highlights in the committee report:

* The school system must make clear in policy language and in carrying out a transfer that the move is not a judgment on the employee's competence or a disciplinary action.

* Acceptable reasons for a teacher transfer might include staff development, community antagonism toward the teacher or inability to resolve conflict with the administrator or other staff, among others.

* Instead of being administratively transferred, teachers should have the chance to leave the school voluntarily and be offered choices for their next assignment. Although their preferences would not be binding, the school system would make every effort to place teachers in one of their choices.

* Principals being considered for a transfer should be notified privately no later than March 15 of the year of the transfer. The private notification is a courtesy to let a principal wrap up loose ends at a school and prepare for the transition to the new school. Principals also should have the chance to express a preference for the next assignment.

* PTA presidents would be notified of a principal's transfer at least two days before the board meeting at which the transfer is to be made public. And whenever possible, the school system should make principal transfers public not less than 30 days before the end of the school year.

The Board of Education will meet at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today at the Department of Education, 10910 Route 108 in Ellicott City. Further information is available by calling 313-7197.

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