Council of State decision on school principals opens way to reinstatement

A decision by the Council of State cancelling some portions of an Education Ministry regulation will open the way for 8,403 school principals to return to their positions, the Turkish Education Personnel Union (Tandurk Eiitim-Sen)laimed on Thursday.
In August of last year, the Education Ministry announced performance evaluations of 16,000 school principals, chief deputy principals and deputy principals, drawing the ire of civil society representatives across Turkey who claimed the evaluations were based on the systematic discrimination of principals who belong to unions that do not support the government.
According to Tandurk Eiitim-Sen Bursa 2nd branch head Fatih Gandumandui, the Council of State cancelled some of the articles in an Education Ministry regulation, which determines how to assign administrators in educational institutions, on the grounds that they do not contain objective criteria.
Gandumandui told the Cihan news agency that according to the information Tandurk Eiitim-Sen received from the Internal Auditing Coordination Board, the removals and reassignments of school principals last year was determined to violate the relevant decree. The decree says that school principals, chief deputy principals and deputy principals who are appointed — first by a letter from a principal, then in a proposal by the head of a provincial directorate of national educational and finally with the governorand’s approval — cannot be removed unless they have completed four years in the post.
The principalsand’ performances were evaluated based on two different scores, one from within the school and one from the regional directorate of national education. Seven thousand principals out of the 16,000 who were evaluated were dismissed after failing to score a total of 75.
Principals who scored at least 75 out of 100 in the evaluations had their tenure extended for four more years. While members of the pro-government Education Personnel Labor Union (Eiitim Bir-Sen) received high scores, nearly all members of unions not affiliated with the government were unable to pass the 75 point threshold. Although many of these principals received full scores in the intra-school evaluation, they did poorly in the evaluation by the regional administration, leading to rumors of favoritism and discrimination.
As a result of the evaluations more than 8,000 school principals were dismissed from their positions on the grounds that they received low scores on their evaluation. The four education unions that do not support the government — the Education Personnel Union (Eiitim-Sen), the Turkish Education Union (Tandurk Eiitim-Sen), the Active Education Personnel Union (Aktif Eiitim-Sen) and the Education Workers Union (Eiitim-ii) — started the legal process in August of last year seeking the reinstatement of the principals who were either removed or reassigned to other positions.
According to the detailed ruling of the Council of State, which is expected to be formally announced soon, the appointments of the school principals did not comply with law as there was no equal opportunity for all candidates, no proper announcement by the ministry and no proper assessment of candidatesand’ careers or qualifications, Gandumandui said.
Underlining that they will follow the implementation process of the decision after the courtand’s formal announcement, he said that the school principals — 286 in Bursa and 8,403 across Turkey — who were removed from their posts must be reinstated by the ministry within 30 days of the court ruling being announced.