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Friday, October 2, 2020

BOE approves streamlined telework protocols

Board requires written decisions from administrators

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

At a special meeting, the Hawaii State Board of Education Thursday took steps to improve teacher telework approval procedures by requiring administrators to provide reasons in writing for rejecting those requests during the pandemic.

BOE Chair Catherine Payne called for the special meeting and proposed the board approve a lengthy proposal on telework to try to clear up inconsistencies in the process.

“There are inequalities in the application so having that conversation at the school level with the teacher and the administrator I think will help. We need to put guardrails around to make sure that it’s (telework) applied fairly,” Payne said.

“Part of it is the importance of building trust and relationships at the school level, and so many teachers are feeling their personal situations are not important. That is a perception, and I do believe that we all care for our teachers. They’re our most important resource,” Payne added.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said, “Some complex area superintendents and principals are uniformly denying telework so they are not following the intent of the Board of Education.”

“We are grateful to BOE Chair Payne for holding this special meeting and proposing changes to the telework process to ensure it’s fairly implemented,” Rosenlee added.

“We also want to thank HSTA members across the state who have shared their telework concerns, some of them anonymously with HSTA and the BOE, providing a reality check so that BOE members could take action because of unclear guidance from DOE leaders,” Rosenlee said.

BOE Member Kili Namauu explained the need for the board to step in and take a stand on telework.

“With all the chaos going in the last several weeks, something needed to be done,” Namauu said, noting “inconsistencies throughout the department,” and praising Payne who has “gone out of her way to start to make things happen.”

“I believe our teachers need to be supported. If it’s distance learning and teachers are doing what they can and they’re able to fulfill these commitments from home, they should be able to have the opportunity to do that. There are too many schools throughout the state have not been addressing these issues equitably,” Namauu said.

Here is the final language which the BOE approved about telework, with amended sections in bold.

Moved to adopt the following directives regarding telework for teachers and direct the Superintendent to incorporate them into instructions provided to schools regarding telework for the 2020-2021 School Year:

  1. In accordance with lines 240-243 and 268-273 of the Reopening Resolution, the Department should ensure there is a comprehensive and thoughtful system of support for teachers, particularly during distance or hybrid learning modes.
  2. Administrators should consider the following factors when teachers request telework and will communicate in writing the reasons for approval or denial of telework:
    1. The teacher has a location at home where the teacher can work or conduct instruction online with minimal disruptions during school hours.
    2. The teacher has reliable internet connectivity that is adequate for the instruction being provided and to engage with their administrator and others.
    3. The teacher provides a written commitment that their administrator will be able to: (1) monitor the teacher’s instruction and/or instructional material provided to students and (2) will be able to easily make contact with, communicate with, and get timely responses from the teacher.
    4. The teacher and administrator mutually agree that the teacher has demonstrated the ability to provide effective instruction during distance learning and can do so in a sufficiently self-directed manner.
  3. The administrators can subsequently terminate a telework agreement if any of the telework approval criteria are not met consistently during the term of the agreement or if the administrator determines that the teacher’s instruction or instructional material is not effective based on the administrator’s monitoring and that the teacher’s instruction or instructional material does not improve after the administrator provides guidance and training opportunities.
  4. Telework during hybrid learning mode only applies to the distance learning portion of hybrid learning. 
  5. The administrator can terminate a telework agreement in order to move forward on documented plans for transitioning from full distance to hybrid learning or from hybrid to in-person learning.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

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Author: Keoki Kerr
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