DENVER (CBS4) – The teachers union representing teachers in Denver public schools is fighting back against the district’s policy for dealing with poorly performing teachers.

Denver Public Schools fired 250 teachers this year, and a third were told they can never work in the district again. Tom Boasberg, superintendent of DPS, said the district has had a so-called “Do Not Rehire” list for years.

The teachers union says they collected 2,600 signatures for a petition against the policy. They say only teachers who have committed egregious, criminal acts should be banned for life.

“This do not rehire blacklisting needs to go,” said former teacher Melissa McKibben outside the DPS administration building on Monday during an organized demonstration of parents, teachers and union leaders.

McKibben is one of the 80 teachers who were given the “Do Not Rehire” designation.

“I would like to know as a parent why each and every single one of these teachers are not rehireable,” said one parent at the demonstration.

The union says they are calling on the board to revise its policy and review the terminations.

“The truth is because of personal preference of one individual. Not the parents, not the students, one principal, I am jobless,” McKibben said.

Boasberg said “this is not about fit.” He told CBS4 the teachers in question have significant performance issues as measured, he says, by many indicators and many individuals.

“We look at these cases very, very carefully. These teachers have been observed by principal, peer, observer, teachers, instructional superintendents,” Boasberg said.

He says the goal is to keep bad teachers from being shuffled from school to school, not protect them.

“We can’t go back to the days when political pressure meant more than performance in who is teaching our kids,” he said.

Still, after mounting pressure, the district has agreed to lift the lifetime ban and make teachers eligible for rehire after three years if they show improvement in another district.

But some say say while the ban may be lifted, the stigma remains.

“A year later this is what a do not rehire can look like — no further teaching jobs,” McKibben said.

Boasberg says the list impacts only 2 percent of all teachers in the district.

Some district officials speculate the timing of the complaints over the policy has to do with a new teacher evaluation system beginning next year. Under the system many more teachers could land on the “do not rehire list.”


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