What Reduction in Force (RIF) policy?


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

Let me quote what Michelle Nelson said today as she was discussing the positions of the candidates for the school board.

"The Reduction in Force (RIF) policy school districts use to lay off staff has proven so controversial that even students have weighed in on the issue."

I haven't the slightest doubt that Michelle is right about that. She always is. But her comment brings up an interesting question.

What RIF policy?

Is there one? If so, where is it? Where can we read it so that we know what it is?

I have never seen a RIF policy. In fact, I've never been able to find ANY written PUSD policy on the district site, and believe me I have searched diligently for them. Try it yourself; you will draw a complete blank.

I've read quite a few state laws that make the school board responsible for creating and following policies, but i've yet to read one of those policies. It may very well be that they exist in some set of notebooks on some shelf somewhere, but what good is that?

How about this? Since "transparency" is an issue in this election, would any of our candidates be in favor of making available online the policies on which our schools are run? Wouldn't that come under the heading of transparency?

Would it be fair to say that the first step in transparency is letting the public know what the rules are? Wouldn't people be more likely to support decisions affecting their tax dollars, their kids, their teachers, and their schools if they knew something about how decisions are made? How do we know the Board is following its own written policies if we haven't got a clue what they are?

How about it, candidates?

Any comments on that?


John Lemon 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom; Wonderful observations and questions. As near as I can figure it the "Policy" of the Board of Ecucation is only what has been stated in the Roundup. The former Superintendent and Board at first said that the frirings were done at the recommendation of the Superintendent (stated by Meyers). Lately they have stated that they followed a "Rubric". So what is a "Rubric"? It is an outline of points that should be followed so as to keep outcomes based on similar criteria. In layman's language, a Rubric is a set of guides designed by who-knows-who. A Rubric can be based on whatever criteria and the outcomes can be as biased as the Rubric. Recently there have been a few remarks published as to the contents of the"'Rubric" that was used by PUSD..The Roundup has also noted that Principals were asked for their input as to firings. The entire concept is hazy on a good day. In my opinion the so-called Rubric is a device to cover past misdeeds by the Administration and Board in that it was a cover for firing people that Administration and Board wanted to get rid of. If they really wanted an operational and more neutral Rubric they could deliniate the characteristics that were being evaluated and assign a value to each evaluated characteristic. The values could be tabulated and an outcome assigned. However, teaching can not be evaluated totally by objective characteristics in that teaching is partly based on human interactions. Who is objective and capable of fairly evaluating those interactions? The best that we have is the Master Teacher, Supervising Teacher, or Administrator. That is the rub. If the evaluator is biased or prejudiced, the evalutation will be skewed. In the case of PUSD, my opinion is that the evaluators were biased or prejudiced from the start in many cases and wanted to rid theselves of certain people. When people complained the Administration and Board attempted to cover themselves with the explanation that they use a "Rubric". Fair? No! I once more state that if those who lead are professionally or morally bent, the outcomes will be bent. I hope that our new Superintendent is aware and will rebuild confidence by rebuilding the Rubric used for firings and address the practices for rehiring those who are fired.


roysandoval 4 years, 2 months ago

Here is the policy, directly out of the policy manual: G-5800 © GCQA
The number and type of certificated staff positions required to implement the District's educational program will be determined by the Board after recommendation from the Superintendent. In the event the Board decides to release certificated staff members, the following guidelines will be in effect:

Ÿ The Superintendent shall submit to the Board recommendations for the termination of specific staff members. The criteria used in formulating these recommendations shall include, but shall not be limited to:

§ Qualifications and certification of staff members to accomplish the District's educational program, including certification requirements for specialty categories and designation as a highly qualified teacher.

§ Overall teaching experience, academic training, and ability.

§ Past contributions to the educational program of the District.

Teacher tenure and seniority shall not be considerations in retention determinations.

Personnel to be released shall be notified as soon as practical.

Adopted: December 14, 2009

LEGAL REF.: A.R.S. 15-502 15-503 15-544 A.G.O. I78-286

CROSS REF.: GCB - Professional Staff Contracts and Compensation

What it does is leave it wide open. Here is the case in point. When Tim and I were RIF'd. My replacement had as many years in fact a few more in education but had only been a principal/sup. at a K-8 200 student district and a 50 student high school charter school with 3 years post retirement in Payson. I had been with the district 25 years, had been a principal at a k-5 school, the high school and a curriculum director. In terms of contribution to the district, I co-wrote and procured funding for the 50 student charter school where my replacement came from. As well, I wrote the original documents for the career ladder program which at that point had brought about 8 million dollars over 15 years. Finally, I had excellent evaluations including the year I was RIF'd Tim, with 29 years of experience and successful service as a middle school and high school principal was RIF'd and replaced with someone who not only had NO administrative experience but no principal certificate. The position was "massaged" to accommodate this.
Finally, the law facilitate this was passed in the fall, our "termination" and the "RIF' happened the following spring.
I would just challenge the readers to look at the policy, read the Board candidate statements and consider the history of "RIF'ing" by the Board (Tim and I are just one case Silverman's is equally as poor) and make a decision on how you think it has been used. Then make a decision on your vote.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, that answers that--and very emphatically!

John says, "Rubric can be based on whatever criteria and the outcomes can be as biased as the Rubric."

First, for the benefit of people who do not work in education, don't bother to look up the term "rubric" in the dictionary. It won't tell you what you need to know. An encyclopedia will though, if you look for the term "academic rubric."

What does the term "rubric" mean when used in education?

When I was teaching methods classes, we used this standard definition:

"A rubric is standard of performance for a defined population."

It usually refers to a list of criteria linked to learning objectives, but it can be extended to mean a list of qualifications for a position.

Fine. Here's the written district policy. It lists those qualifications which should be used to decide which of several candidates best fits the position. It is, therefore, a rubric, though a loosely written one. (PS: Thank you, Roy!)

§ Qualifications and certification of staff members to accomplish the District's educational program, including certification requirements for specialty categories and designation as a highly qualified teacher.

§ Overall teaching experience, academic training, and ability.

§ Past contributions to the educational program of the District.

Teacher tenure and seniority shall not be considerations in retention determinations.

Now, look at Roy's demonstrated qualifications.

• How much "experience" does he have?

• How much "academic Training" does he have?

• Has he demonstrated "ability" in his position?

• What "Past contributions to the educational program of the District" has he made?

I won't go on. There is no point. I'll just ask, was there at that time, or is there now, anyone in the district who comes even close to having the sterling list of qualifications you read in Roy's post?

So we ask ourselves the obvious question, If the district's own policy was used, including the "rubric," or list of criteria, how can Roy possibly have been riffed?

The answer clearly lies in the heading to the list of qualifications, "The criteria used in formulating these recommendations shall include, but shall not be limited to [the list of qualifications]."

The conclusion is obvious.

Since Roy overwhelmingly meets, and far surpasses, the listed qualifications as well as those of any other person in consideration for the position he occupied, then the "criteria used" to RIF him do not appear on the list.

In plain English, Roy was riffed for reasons other than those we were told.

What were they?

Were they reasons that the people of Payson would find acceptable?

Yes? Vote the board back in.

No? Use the power of your vote!


John Lemon 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom: The point has been made clearly. The past Superintendent and members of the Board severly wronged Mr. Sandoval , Mr. Fruth, teachers and the community that entrusted them. The current Board President, who is running for re-election to the Board, was part of a Board that allowed and supported some horrid acts. Let us not forget those who have been wronged and continue to be wronged, not to mention the million dollar plus fiasco and current morale. Do not vote for a continuance of the inept leadership.


Pat Randall 4 years, 2 months ago

Didn't one of the board members resign after the firing of Mr. Sandoval and Mr. Fruth and he had just been elected for another term?


roysandoval 4 years, 2 months ago

Having used Tim and I as an example, let me state that it's not about us, we landed on our feet and have done very well. Others who were "terminated"via the RIF policy have as well. It's about the fact that the practice of easily terminating someone using (or abusing) the RIF policy has created a system where staff are frightened to death to give a true opinion that might be interpreted as opposing the administration. They have observed people with strong opinions become targets. In turn, it has brought about mistrust between staff members and between staff and administration - and with that, very low morale. It also weakens the system. Freedom to exchange ideas and opinions, particularly opposing ideas are at the heart of creating a strong and vibrant community where people are validated and feel efficacy in their contributions. I am hoping the change in Superintendent and near future changes on the board will bring about some insight and thoughtful intelligence toward revising the policy and specifically the practices and administrative implementation such that staff are able to once again experience the sense of security necessary to recreate a healthy educational climate and culture. Use your vote wisely.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago


I'm not sure about that. Maybe someone else will remember.


Right! Although I am only a bystander, I have many times asked how the school district in small rural town like Payson could be so filled with rancor. It seemed impossible to me. It was as though I was looking at a replay of the days before the American Revolution, when the people were being oppressed by their rulers. And yet, that made no sense. In truth, there is very little to argue about in running a school or a school district. The methods used to teach have been in place, with a few slight though important variations, ever since I was a boy. And all teachers want to do is teach their classes and support the program. I know, I've been there for a lot of years.

So what is there to wrangle over? It seemed a mystery to me. Schools are usually happy places. My conclusion--forced upon me by events--was that I was looking at a school board with some kind of hidden agenda or personality flaw, perhaps some deep-rooted anger against education or a need for over-control. On top of that, the super always seemed to speak for the board. I rarely, if ever, heard anyone on the Board say anything cogent regarding current issues. I was left with an empty, confused feeling. I wondered what the devil was wrong, why there was always so much anger and conflict.

Well, now we shall see, I suspect.


You exactly describe what people who were not working in the district felt as they observed things from the outside--people afraid to talk. How can problems be corrected, and the program in general be improved, when people are afraid to offer their ideas?

The simple truth is that in order to fix something you have to first admit to yourself that there is something wrong with it, or that it at least can use some improvement. In a repressive atmosphere nothing gets done because no one dares to suggest that anything is wrong.

Everyone is glad, of course, that you and Tim and others have landed on your feet, but we feel robbed of your expertise, and that of others. Let's hope we can elect a school board which is open to suggestions from those who have studied and worked in education all their lives, and let's hope that includes our new super.

What a breath of fresh air it will be if the new board is no longer a center of contention.


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