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City to begin rotating assistant principals, against their protest

Dozens of assistant principals were told on Wednesday that they would be removed from the schools where they have worked since the beginning of the year and placed in other schools.

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents assistant principals, says the surprising news is sure to wreak havoc on schools just as they begin state testing, which assistant principals often coordinate.

The rotation is part of the Department of Education’s strategy to reduce the number of educators who do not have permanent positions but who remain on the department’s payroll. Teachers whose positions have been eliminated by budget cuts or school closures and do not land another position in the school system enter the Absent Teacher Reserve, which department officials have criticized as financially burdensome and a refuge for “teachers who either don’t care to, or can’t, find a job.”

The equivalent of the ATR pool for administrators is the “excess pool.” Currently, there are 192 assistant principals and a small number of principals in the pool.

Starting in less than two weeks, 56 of the assistant principals will be rotated to new schools in an arrangement similar to one the city has used for ATR pool members since 2011. Teachers and administrators have criticized the teacher rotation system, but department officials say it has been instrumental in getting excessed teachers permanent jobs by exposing them to principals who might be hiring.

Department officials say the assistant principal rotation system is the next phase in the same plan.

“We always intended to rotate other excessed staff, and began rotating guidance counselors this school year,” said Connie Pankratz, a department spokeswoman. “Since October, nearly 500 excessed teachers were hired, and we want to provide a similar benefit to excessed assistant principals by giving them exposure to different schools.”

Pankratz said the department assessed each assistant principal in excess and selected for rotation only the ones whose departure would not disrupt the essential operations of the school where they have been working.

But CSA President Ernest Logan said in a statement that the timing of the change means that schools and students are especially vulnerable to upheaval.

“Announced today, with testing beginning in April, the plan makes zero sense,” Logan said. “Pulling APs out of one school and rotating them to another on a weekly basis in mid-year is a half-baked idea with no relationship to good instruction. … We believe there is no sound rationale to this decision and it is in the worst interest of children.”

Assistant principals who face rotation in elementary, middle, and high schools, Pankratz said. They will be sent to different schools within their district or, in high schools, their borough.

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