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Chicago Public Schools is still sending layoff notices to 256 teachers and 189 PSRPs — a total of 445 educators. This total is in line with what we have been seeing for the last several years (443 in 2021, 489 in 2020), but not nearly as high as the Bruce Rauner Crisis Years of 2016-2017 when Republican-led leadership of our state wreaked havoc on our classrooms.

But no matter the numbers, this is what Mayor Lightfoot’s team at CPS considers the “new normal”: devastating cuts and layoffs when it has growing revenue, but is stuck on student-based budgeting. It’s an annual process that is emotional and disruptive, and destabilizes school communities.

And for what? To remove educators from environments in which they are often beloved, trusted and respected, and place them into a pool to be rehired at new schools for 2022-2023?

If these teachers, librarians, PSRPS/technology coordinators and other staff are making a positive difference where they are, let them stay and continue making a difference!

It’s a cruel process. It’s also the reality of a mayoral controlled school district.

Your rights

If you are among those who have received notification of layoff in the last week, know that you have contractual rights, no matter what terminology the Board uses (honorable dismissal, school action, etc.).

This short description of those rights is not intended to answer every individual question, but it does provide a basic overview of what happens if you are a CTU member who loses your position. A more thorough description can be found at ctulocal1.org/layoff.

For contract language describing your rights, see Appendix H for teachers and Appendix I for PSRPs in the CTU-Board Contract. CPS is offering to help untenured teachers find placement in positions in addition to tenured teachers per Appendix H, which already includes the reassigned teacher pool at full pay for 10 months.

If you receive a letter or call regarding displacement, honorable dismissal or layoff, please know that it is not “official” until you have received a displacement letter from the CPS Office of Talent Development. When you receive a displacement letter, follow the steps specified in the letter so that you can protect your rights to continued employment.

Changes for 2022-2023

CPS is handling at least some layoffs differently this year, sending “impact letters” to some saying that it has allocated funding for more than 500 more teachers across the district next school year and assuring full-time employment in CPS for the entirety of SY2023 through a new pilot program to address “pandemic recovery and resulting teacher shortages.” Here’s what it lays out:

If you do not accept an offer of employment as a full-time teacher at a specific CPS school before August 15, 2022, CPS will offer you a full-time position for the next school year in which you will be assigned to the Talent Office and deployed to schools as a full-time teacher throughout the 2022-23 school year. The deployment will end at the end of the 2022-23 school year. To maintain eligibility for this position, you must accept all deployments. A failure to accept all deployments may result in dismissal.

For impacted PSRPs, CPS sent notices that offer assistance with being hired into vacancies in the district, that invite displaced PSRPs to apply for placement in the Day-to-Day Classroom Assistant Pool, and that delineate the process to be placed in the PSRP recall pool. In previous years, CPS has not facilitated PSRPs joining the Day-to-Day Classroom Assistant Pool as they are this year.

The district is only offering this extra assistance because we pushed for it at the bargaining table, knowing that CPS has the resources. We do not believe this upheaval should be occurring, yet members should have options as we continue to advocate for stability — not continued disruptions and shuffling of staff.

The CPS CEO is claiming no one will be “separated” because there are available options and positions, yet this chaos is unnecessary and we want folks to land on their feet.

Action

If you believe that you have been incorrectly laid off, email a copy of your termination letter to your field representative, and include the special circumstances of your displacement (for example, if you were not the least senior member displaced, or did not receive an unsatisfactory rating). You will also need to include a grievance authorization form.

Look up your CTU field representative and reach out to them with any other questions, or call the CTU office at 312-329-9100.