Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Office Of Special Investigations Double Standard

The New York City Office Of Special Investigations (OSI) was created to investigate educator misconduct from the school chancellor to the school aide. However, based upon past performance, not all investigations are handled the same. It is common knowledge that DOE administrators are treated differently than teachers. An unproven student accusation against a teacher can get the teacher removed from the classroom and a 90 day unpaid suspension. However, accusations by a group of teachers that seems to have merit are reluctently handled by OSI and the administrator is free to continue their service in the school until OSI gets around to issuing a report. Below are two examples of OSI dragging it's feet in reviewing allegations against two principals.

Over the last week two New York City Principals have been investigated about alleged abuses of their authority. The first, Dr. Lee McCaskill of Brooklyn Tech high school has been accused of not living in the State and sending his daughter to a local elementary school without paying the tuition for out of state students. Further, Dr. MacCaskill has been accused of changing failing grades to passing grades without the teacher's knowledge or approval. Finally, Dr. McCaskill allowed an AP Tracy Atkins-Zoughlami to go unpunished for reading to her class the false and anti-semitic poem by Amiri Baraka that stated that 4,000 Jews were given advanced warning of the 9/11 event and didn't go to work at the World Trade Center. Dr. McCaskill finally retired this week after it was found that he lived in New Jersey and his daughter did not pay the out of state tuition. No disciplinary action was taken.

The other principal, Mr. Anthony Rotunno of John F. Kennedy High School, has been accused of changing English Regents grades months after the Regents was given, without the knowledge or approval of the teachers. In fact, the teachers only found out that the English grades were changed by the administration when the students informed the teachers of their passing grades. OSI stated that the principal had the right to change Regents grades and cleared Mr. Rotunno of changing the grades without finding out why the grades were changed. Only after complaints were aired in the newspapers did OSI start a second investigation on why the grades were changed. This investigation is ongoing and Mr. Rotunno sits in his principals office in the meantime.

Both principals have been accused of changing grades without the knowledge and approval of the teachers. This is in apparent violation of New York State law that gives the teacher the final decision on a grade. Yes, Principals can change grades or Regents but only after the teacher(s) are informed and given input to the changing of grades. Nowhere in the New York State education law does an administrator have the right to change a student grade without teacher input. Yet both principals saw fit to ignore the teacher input and had them changed without informing the teachers. Why is OSI dragging its feet when the evidence is very easy to obtain? You can only guess why? However, OSI wasted no time in removing the Chapter Leader of JFK high school for using the school fax to send the information to a New York City newspaper. Against teachers the OSI works fast!

Is there an OSI double standard on how they investigate teachers and administrators? You better believe it!


NYC Educator said...

Someone pointed out on my blog the cost per year of NYC students was well over 5K, and that McCaskill had gotten a bargain. It's amazing that after all the man has done, Carmen Farina and the DOE have the audacity to praise him as he skulks away.

Chaz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chaz said...

nyc educator;

OSI claims their independent of DOE. However, time and time again when an administrator has a friend in high places in DOE, the OSI investigation drags on with the administrator staying in place. We all know that Carmen Farina was Dr. McCaskill's Rabbi and protected him until the end.

By contrast, the CL of JFK was removed to the "rubber room" despite her not being a threat to the students or doing anything criminal.

OSI will claim they do not remove educators from the schools. However, they do make recommendations that are usaully followed by DOE and no high level DOE educrat will buck OSI's recommendations. Therefore, if OSI drags their heels on the investigation, they don't need to make a recommendation until the investigation is complete.

NYC Educator said...

I agree, of course.

There's a moratorium on punishment for this offense right now: