School of Education Fieldwork Policy
The following Fieldwork Requirements and Procedures (“the Procedures”) are established by the Hunter College (“the College”) School of Education (“SOE”) to ensure productive and safe learning experiences for teacher candidates enrolled in SOE fieldwork placement programs and effective service for the schools and community agencies participating in those programs. A SOE teacher candidate’s conduct in these programs demonstrates to the College the teacher candidate’s ability to earn the College’s recommendation for National and State-wide professional licensure or certification.
Code of Conduct
In addition to following the standards outlined in the College’s Code of Conduct applicable to all teacher candidates, a SOE teacher candidate whose education includes any fieldwork component must:
- Meet any and all standards or competencies required in the teacher candidate’s professional program of study or license/certification; and
- Comply with the Rules/Policies of the school or community agency in which the teacher candidate is placed to conduct his or her fieldwork that do not conflict with College policy
The Office of Clinical Experiences (“OCE”) places teacher candidates for fieldwork intensive courses. Each SOE program has established procedures for making those placements, which may vary from program to program. A SOE teacher candidate enrolled within a program is responsible for learning and following the procedures applicable to his or her program. In addition, the teacher candidate must ensure that he or she:
- completes the required placement forms, applications, site selection processes, prerequisite coursework, and/or contracts before the established due dates; and
- meets the standards for continued acceptance at the placement site.
Moreover, a teacher candidate who intends to participate in a fieldwork placement program must exhibit professional behavior. Failure to behave in a professional manner may result in the denial or denial of a fieldwork placement pursuant to the processes stated below.
Placement Security Clearance
A teacher candidate applying for a fieldwork placement in a New York City (“NYC”) public school or other clinical setting is required to obtain security clearance by the NYC Department of Education (“DOE”) or other authority prior to placement. This process usually includes fingerprinting. A teacher candidate may also be asked by his or her fieldwork placement program to complete a self-reported, background check. The purpose of these checks, which are subject to the policies of the partnering organization, is to ensure public safety and avoid unacceptable risk to vulnerable populations. A teacher candidate who refuses to submit fingerprints, or is otherwise unable to obtain security clearance, cannot be placed and will be administratively withdrawn from the placement and/or program.
Background checks for private institutions are typically conducted by the placement site. If a violation is discovered, authorized personnel at the placement organization will determine the suitability of a candidate for placement. The SOE Program Coordinator or staff member in the Office of Clinical Experience (“OCE”) may also determine the suitability of a candidate for field placement based on discovered or self-reported information. Unless otherwise provided by law, factors considered in determining suitability may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- In case of a criminal conviction, the relevance of the crime to the practical experience;
- The nature of the work to be performed;
- The passage of time since the conviction;
- The age of the candidate at the time of the offense;
- The seriousness and specific circumstances of the offense;
- The number of offenses;
- The existence of pending charges; and
- Any relevant evidence of rehabilitation.
A teacher candidate may challenge a security clearance finding by appealing to the appropriate contact within the partnering organization as determined by that organization.
A SOE teacher candidate’s Inability to Qualify for a Placement
If a SOE teacher candidate is unable to qualify for a fieldwork placement, based on the determination of a partnering organization, the teacher candidate will be placed on academic probation for one (1) semester and the teacher candidate will be given no more than one (1) opportunity at another placement (this would amount to a total of two placements including the initial unsuccessful fieldwork placement). A SOE teacher candidate must be available to placement organization staff in their assessment of the teacher candidate’s qualifications for placement. A teacher candidate who is unable to qualify for placements with a partner fieldwork organization after two attempts at placement by the SOE will be deemed unable to continue in the SOE and will be terminated from the program.
Addressing Problems during the Fieldwork Placement
The Concerns of a SOE Teacher Candidate
If a SOE teacher candidate in a fieldwork placement encounters problems related to the placement, the teacher candidate must:
- Inform the Clinical Placement Specialist and on-site Fieldwork Placement Coordinator (i.e., the primary supervisor/teacher of record for the field placement, practicum, and/or internship) within ten (10) business days not including any legal holidays;
- Work with the Clinical Placement Specialist and faculty, if appropriate, on a plan to resolve the issue; and/or
- Follow the plan with the Clinical Placement Specialist, faculty, and/or relevant school staff to resolve the problem.
The Concerns of Fieldwork Placement Site
If a fieldwork placement site encounters problems related to the teacher candidate’s conduct, the fieldwork placement site shall:
- Inform the Clinical Placement Specialist overseeing the teacher candidate’s placement of the problem within ten (10) business days, not including any legal holidays; and then either
- Work on a plan with the Clinical Placement Specialist and/or faculty to address the problem with the SOE teacher candidate, to the extent possible, or
- Inform in writing the Clinical Placement Specialist and/or faculty that the teacher candidate should be removed from placement site.
The SOE teacher candidate must follow the plan to the satisfaction of the placement organization.
If the plan does not satisfactorily address the fieldwork placement organization’s concerns about the SOE teacher candidate’s conduct:
- The organization will contact the assigned Clinical Placement Specialist in SOE’s OCE of the problem within ten (10) business days, not including any legal holidays; and
- OCE will determine the appropriate method needed to satisfactorily conclude the concern, for example, by engaging with the placement site coordinator to formulate a mutually acceptable plan, to the extent possible.
If this process does not lead to a satisfactory conclusion and the organization does not permit the teacher candidate to continue, the teacher candidate will receive a failing grade in fieldwork and a failing grade in the course. In addition, the teacher candidate will be placed on academic probation for one (1) semester and the teacher candidate will be given no more than one (1) opportunity at another placement (this would amount to a total of two placements including the initial unsuccessful fieldwork placement).
Different Scenarios for Dismissal from the SOE and applicable Procedures
Scenario 1: A SOE teacher candidate’s Arrest or other Security Clearance Related Issue
If a SOE teacher candidate is arrested and/or charged with a crime during fieldwork placement, he or she must follow the procedures listed below, in addition to following the procedures listed in the College’s teacher candidate Code of Conduct regarding the requirements upon a teacher candidate charged with a crime during his or her enrollment at the College:
- Report the arrest to On-site Fieldwork Placement Supervisor and the SOE OCE placement specialist overseeing the teacher candidate’s placement within forty-eight (48) hours of the arrest, not including weekends and legal holidays; and
- Notify the NYC DOE within forty-eight (48) hours of the arrest, not including weekends and legal holidays. If the teacher candidate does not report the arrest to the On-site Fieldwork Placement Supervisor and the SOE’s OCE, the NYC DOE will send a staff member to remove the teacher candidate from the fieldwork placement. It is highly recommended that the teacher candidate avoid such a situation. Under such a circumstance, College faculty and staff cannot determine the teacher candidate’s eligibility to remain at the assigned site.Only the NYC DOE can determine whether the teacher candidate may return to the placement site. The reason for the arrest may determine the timeframe of when the teacher candidate may return to the site. For example, a teacher candidate charged with driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) may be required to present court documentation to the NYC DOE, and a DOE determination may take two to four weeks. On the other hand, where a teacher candidate is charged with assault, the NYC DOE may require further investigation, which could take at least a year, before a teacher candidate is cleared for a placement.
Scenario 2: The teacher candidate Jeopardizes the Safety and/or Well-being of a Minor
If a SOE teacher candidate is dismissed by a fieldwork placement organization for having jeopardized the safety or well-being of a minor, the teacher candidate will be removed from the course and receive a failing grade. The OCE cannot knowingly place a teacher candidate who has compromised the safety or well-being of a minor, client, or patient in a clinical setting. If fieldwork placement is required for completion of a degree, license, or certificate, such a dismissal will result in the teacher candidate’s termination from the program. If the teacher candidate is terminated from the program, his or her action in coursework and clinical experience within the program will cease immediately.
Scenario 3: Removal by a Fieldwork Placement Organization
A SOE teacher candidate should be aware that as a member of the College community, he or she must follow the procedures listed in this document as well as the other policies referenced herein. There is no requirement, however, that a fieldwork placement organization follow these procedures. As such, if a fieldwork placement organization removes a teacher candidate from a placement due to unprofessional or egregious conduct or unsatisfactory performance, the College cannot mandate that the placement organization take the teacher candidate back.
Where a teacher candidate has been removed from a placement by the participant organization and alleged conduct does not involve behavior in which the SOE teacher candidate jeopardized the safety and/or well being of a minor, the OCE staff will refer the matter to the Department Chair and Associate Dean for appropriate action. In such a case, the Department Chair and Associate Dean will:
- Review the SOE teacher candidate’s alleged unprofessional or egregious conduct and determine whether re-placement within a second fieldwork placement organization would be appropriate given the conduct in question;
- If re-placement is appropriate, teacher candidate will be placed on academic probation for one (1) semester; and
- Instruct the SOE to make no more than one (1) attempt to find that teacher candidate another placement (this would amount to a total of two placements including the initial unsuccessful fieldwork placement). A SOE teacher candidate must be available to placement organization staff in their assessment of the teacher candidate’s qualifications for the re-placement.
- If the Associate Dean and Chair determine that replacement is not appropriate, they will recommend this action be reviewed by the SOE’s Clinical Standards Committee, which shall be comprised of the SOE’s Dean and one or more SOE Department Chairs. The teacher candidate will be placed on academic probation until the CSC issues a written decision. This decision shall serve as the final determination by the College’s SOE.
Failure to Meet the Terms of Academic Probation
A teacher candidate who is on academic probation and who thereafter violates the code of conduct will be removed from the fieldwork placement program by the SOE’s OCE. If fieldwork placement is required for completion of a degree, license, or certificate, such a dismissal or removal will result in the teacher candidate’s case being referred to the Clinical Standards Committee for review of the teacher candidate’s termination from the program. If the CSC affirms the termination of the teacher candidate from the program, his or her action in coursework and clinical experience within the program will cease immediately.
The Appeals Process
A teacher candidate who wishes to appeal an adverse decision under these procedures, may submit a timely written appeal to the Provost of Hunter College, stating reasons for his/her appeal. The Provost will decide the appeal within a reasonable time period and this decision will be the final decision by the College.