Non-renewed DPS teachers call ‘do not rehire’ policy unfair scarlet letter

Denver Public School teachers gather to protest the district's "do not rehire" list on June 17, 2013.

Denver Public School teachers gather to protest the district's "do not rehire" list on June 17, 2013.

DENVER – Some Denver school teachers took a stand against the district’s evaluation and rehiring process Monday, saying a so-called “do not rehire” policy brands good teachers with a black stain they haven’t earned.

Those teachers are members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, and they publicly protested in front of the the DPS Administration Building on Monday. There, they presented DPS administrators with a petition in protest of the “do not rehire” policy.

Under the policy, any teacher whose contract is not renewed can be placed on a “do not rehire” list without a review from the school board. Once on the list, a teacher can’t be rehired by a Denver Public School for three years.

This past year, DPS did not renew the contracts of 250 teachers. About 80 of them were placed on the “do not rehire” list. Melissa Mckibben says that’s unacceptable. Over 2,600 who teachers who signed the petition seem to agree with her.

Mckibben was one of those 80 teachers placed on the “do not rehire” last year. She says she only landed there because she fell out of favor with her principal.

“Investigate the school who has teachers afraid to represent each other because of the principal,” she wrote on KDVR’s Facebook wall. “Investigate me, my parents, my student data and you will see I am not a bad teacher, just a dedicated one who stepped on the wrong toes.”

According to DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, the district’s “do not rehire” policy is set up to prevent against such biases. He said the teachers who land on that list are those who fail performance reviews based on evaluations not just from a principal, but from peers, observers, fellow teachers and instructional superintendents.

He also said the district has already revised the “do not rehire” policy once at the request of the teacher’s union. Before the revision, teachers who landed on the blacklist were banned from DPS for life. Now they can be rehired after three years if they show improvement in another district.

However, the protesting teachers say that’s not good enough, mainly because teachers have difficulty being hired in any district after being placed on the DPS “do not rehire list.”

With that in mind, the teachers’ petition asked that, as a part of a new teacher evaluation system set to be implemented this coming school year, the “do not rehire” designation only be applied in extreme situations, or when criminal activity is involved.