South Orange-Maplewood District to Review Hiring Protocols for Temp Teachers

by The Village Green
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The South Orange-Maplewood School District is looking into adding internet searches to its vetting process for hiring temporary teachers.

On Friday night, October 7, South Orange Middle School parents discovered that a temporary English Language Arts teacher who was to start on October 10 had been fired by the New Milford District by searching his name on Google. Parent Wendy Sachs then contacted the district and created a petition asking the district to rescind the offer; the petition solicited 96 signatures in about 36 hours.

On Sunday morning, October 9, SOMS Principal Lynn Irby sent an email to parents and guardians stating that the teacher in question would not be hired and that the search for a temporary replacement for 8th grade ELA teacher Megan Alloway would continue.

In a letter sent to parents Thursday evening, October 13, the District explained that the vetting process for hiring temporary teachers includes interviewing candidates, having candidates conduct demonstration lessons, checking references, fingerprinting candidates, and reviewing teaching license status.

Missing from the list: internet searches.

In a phone conversation, district spokeswoman Suzanne Turner noted that the district protocol for hiring permanent employees often includes contacting administrators not listed as references who may have worked with the candidate in the past, and searching online histories. Turner said that the district is considering changing the protocol for temporary hires to include that same criterion.

Long story short: It looks like the South Orange-Maplewood School District will be adding internet searches to the vetting process for hiring temporary teachers — just as it does currently for permanent teachers — in the near future.

See the letter from the District here:

Dear SOMS Community,

As you know, we are in the middle of filling three English Language Arts teacher vacancies.

We wanted to clarify the hiring process.

When a teacher is going to be out for a long enough period to necessitate a leave replacement teacher, we look for a certified teacher with expertise in that specific content area and/or grade. We interview candidates, and then ask leading candidates to conduct a demonstration lesson so that we can see their teaching style in action.

Our protocol is to check references, fingerprinting, and current teaching license status for finalists. We are currently reviewing our hiring process to determine what additional levels of background checks we may want to incorporate for the future.

Questions arose when SOMS announced to  families last Friday that a leave replacement teacher had been identified for the 7th grade English Language Arts class. This recommendation was made after interviewing five candidates for the position, observing demonstration lessons for three of those five interviewed, and checking references and teaching license status for the finalist.

Upon further consideration, we decided to keep searching to identify a teacher who will better meet the needs of our students.

We know that the quality of a teacher can have a tremendous impact on each student, and are committed to finding the best possible candidates. We look forward to introducing you to our new SOMS teachers, once we have identified candidates who have the qualifications necessary to inspire and support the continual learning and growth of our students.

South Orange Maplewood School District

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