If past is prologue, I’m not sure why I’d be terribly surprised that my rotten luck with hiring/onboarding paperwork with the DOE has reared its ugly head again.
I’m looking forward to starting my full-time teaching position in the fall. As with all new hires, I need to complete the Applicant Gateway process, background nomination and all. For those following along at home, this is now my fourth DOE background investigation. The other three were for my previous nominations: substitute teacher, Roster Evaluate (onboarding for the Collaborative), and Person Not On Budget (PNOB) so that I could have access to some tech systems during my field experience.
Until very recently, my teacher nomination was stuck in the background investigation step. No big deal, I thought. It’s peak hiring season for teachers and it’s not unusual for these things to take a bit longer. I shrugged off the fact that it had only been just shy of two months since I cleared my last DOE background investigation. I sent a quick email to OPI, hoping for some assurance that nothing was wrong with my candidacy.
Four to five business days passed, and I was ready to send a follow-up email to OPI. As I fired up Outlook, I took a look at SubCentral on a hunch, only to receive the following message upon attempting to log in: Your account has been disabled please contact your districts HR department.
I’ve only ever seen that message once before, and it was only six months ago that a similar paperwork hiccup prevented me from working as a substitute teacher. I knew I was in good standing as a sub, and that I was approved for the DOE’s summer pool of sub teachers. Again, something wasn’t quite adding up. After missing out on a month of income the last time this happened, I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance. I emailed the Office of Personnel Investigations (OPI), hoping for an expeditious response. OPI sounds like a scary thing to deal with, but they’re the folks who oversee background investigations for the DOE.
The problem with getting in contact with OPI is that there’s officially only one way to reach them — contacting an email that responds with a generic auto-reply. Their own auto-reply and conventional business etiquette suggest that the sender should expect 2-3 days for a response. That certainly wasn’t the case for me back in December, as I distinctly sending approximately 4 emails spaced throughout the month. I still find it somewhat amusing that after a month of trying to get ahold of their office, I was able to get a response the day I used some Google-Fu and the DOE Outlook directory to find out who exactly was in charge of OPI and emailed this person.
Back in the present day, I’m sitting at my computer, ever so slightly irritated that this same problem has presented itself again. I could have emailed OPI again, but wasn’t feeling like playing their email waiting game within such a short timeframe of having previously addressed the exact same issue. I typed up an email to OPI, and copied the emails of several DOE employees from that office.
I haven’t received a response or any acknowledgement of my email, but within 24 hours of sending this, the problem was fixed. My background investigation that had been pending since mid-June went through and I was able to log into SubCentral again. I worried that it might have been a bit over the top to directly email their executive director and deputy director, but I assuaged my guilt by reminding myself that it was the right thing to do given the consequences of this “technical issue” as it was obtusely described by an OPI representative.
My hope in writing this blog post and other similar to it is not to complain, but rather to document some of the logistical challenges that I’ve faced during my time in the Collaborative. I hope that future Teaching Fellows and Collaborative Partner Teachers who might end up in a similar predicament are able to resolve things a bit quicker than I did.
I haven’t even started my teaching position with the DOE yet, and the Department’s track record with routine paperwork isn’t looking too promising. Here’s to a brighter future with minimal paperwork headaches.