Thursday, January 08, 2009

The New Underhanded & Sleazy DOE Policy To Get Teachers To Resign On The Spot



The DOE in their never ending search to find ways to get veteran teachers to leave the system has came up with a new procedure to do just that. Tweed's Teacher Performance Unit (TPU). Otherwise known as the "firing squad" or gotcha squad" has come up with a sleazy procedure to railroad and pressure teachers accused of incompetance into resigning. The TPU has sent a resignation form to the Principals' that allows the teacher to resign on the spot and our union has not objected to this sleazy program. How does this new procedure to get rid of teachers work?

It starts with the Principal "U" rating the teacher for the first year. Then during the second year the Administration gives the poor teacher "U" observations. The teacher is given the Peer Intervention Program (PIP) and despite sometimes glowing reports, the Principal "U" rates the teacher for the second year. During the third year, the "U" observations pile up and the teacher is given the DOE termination program called PIP+. Usually given by an F status administrator or teacher who relies on the DOE supported income and won't go against the Principal. Finally, the Principal, with another administrator will call in the unsuspecting teacher, sometimes without the Chapter Leader since it is not a disciplinary hearing and offers the teacher a deal. The deal is as follows:

" If the teacher signs the resignation paper, handed to the teacher at the meeting, the Principal will remove the "U" ratings and give the teacher an "S" rating for the previous two years and the current year. Further, the DOE will give a neutral recommendation to other school systems. Finally, the teacher will be reassigned out of the school and be paid for the rest of the school year. Of course the resignation paper states that the teacher cannot work for the DOE ever again. If the teacher refuses to sign the resignation paper the Principal falsely claims that the teacher will be brought up on expedited 3020-a charges and go after not only the City license but the State license as well and that the teacher will be terminated before the school year is over."

This scare tactic frightens the teacher and without guidance some teachers sign their careers away. The reality is that if the teacher properly refuses to sign the resignation paper here is the most likely scenario that would ensue. The Principal will file 3020-a charges for incompetence and the teacher will be reassigned. In two to three months, maybe longer, the 3020 charges will be given to the teacher. Three to six months after receiving the charges the teacher will be assigned a NYSUT lawyer, free of charge, by the union and a 3020-a arbitrator will be assigned. Between six and 12 months after receiving the lawyer & arbitrator, the teacher will finally have a pre-hearing where it is quite likely the DOE lawyer will offer the teacher a settlement by paying a fine of between $2,500 -$6,000 and a course without going through a 3020-a hearing. If no such settlement is offered, expect the 3020-a hearing to last six months or more before it ends. Because transcripts from Albany are very slow in coming, an Arbitrator's decision could take another three month or more. That means from the time the teacher is reassigned from the school to the arbitrator's decision expect it to be a minimum of 20 months and in most cases it is over two years! Finally, very few teachers are terminated for incompetence and the teacher is eventually reassigned to another school as an ATR.

Why our union allows the DOE to get away with this deception is mind-boggling. The district reps should be telling the Chapter Leaders to make sure that no teacher sign a resignation paper and encourage them to fight the charges. Instead it seems that the union takes a neutral position and leaves the teacher on her own with no guidance and the likely scenario if the teacher does not sign the resignation paper. It appears to me the union is aiding and abetting Tweed's sleazy teacher resignation program by keeping the hapless and targeted teacher ignorant of their options if they fight the charges.

Shame on Tweed for their underhanded ways to pressure teachers to resign and the union for allowing this DOE program to exist without putting up a fight.

Note: I am pretty much disappointed that many of my fellow bloggers have not commented on this serious new development on how to get teachers to resign in the school. We need to put the union on notice that they must have meetings to inform teachers about this new DOE action plan. I understand that Edwize and Leo Casey could care less about the classroom teacher but we do care and this issue can affect us all!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Settlement offers are made by DOE to teachers because the punishments and fines handed out by arbitrators are less severe than the settlement punishments and fines. A frightened teacher who does not know that is ripe for settlement.
In all but the most obvious incompetence cases a teacher is much better off in the hands of an arbitrator. Of course DOE wants the settlements (makes it easier to get rid of the teacher next time) and of course the NYSUT lawyers want the settlement but the teacher should not. It is no secret that a 3020a settlement that includes a fine is going to be viewed as an admission of incompetence or guilt at subsequent 3020a hearings. Let me be frank, if you settle for a fine and a course than you are toast at your next 3020a hearing. An honest NYSUT lawyer will admit that to you.

17 (really 15) more years said...

Our district leader is so damn stupid she probably would encourage a teacher to sign it.

As for our CL, we have not had one chapter meeting this year.

Fidgety said...

Thank you for describing in detail, one of the shameful processes that the DOE is using to get rid of good teachers. The UFT's silence proves that they are a partner in this one too.

Chaz said...

Fidgity:

I sometimes wonder who's side the UFT is on. I know if I was in charge of the union I would make sure all CL's and DR's would tell teachers not to sign anything.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous who wrote the first comment. This next comment presumes the (frivolously or falsely)accused teacher has not signed away anything and has been deported to a rubber room for a period of six months and has received the formal 3020a and has met with their NYSUT attorney.
As you correctly noted DOE frequently offers settlement just prior (minutes before)to the prehearing conference.
Their second offer is often minutes before the hearing itself. the arbitrator will invariably have an off-the-record sidebar asking if they (DOE and/or NYSUT)would consider settlement. The accused has butterflies as they face possible termination, the NYSUT lawyer is overworked, and the arbitrator would like to settle the case rather than issue a decision (trust me on this). DOE would like to hit the respondent with a harsh fine/penalty and get two strikes against them for next time. Thus, a thousand forces act as inertia on the poor respondent. Picture yourself siting there with your career, family, and livelihood flashing before your eyes. By agreeing to settle you can please everyone in the room and, in a way and albeit temporarily, relieve your stress and despair. Plus, you really don't know what colleague, student. administrator, or will stroll out and testify against you. DOE has an implied threat of going forward if you don't sign. They appear to be comletely ready to roll. You are at your most vulnerable. No one is looking out for you...except you and you are not thinking clearly. So you sign and everyone smiles...and two years later another false 3020a appears and NYSUT tells you, "Second 3020a is a career ender...sign a resignation to preserve your teaching license."
My advice is, make it overwhelmingly clear very early (at the first meeting)to your assigned attorney you will NEVER settle. NEVER. Prepare as if you will NEVER. NYSUT must realize you will never. DOE must withdraw the charges. This will be NYSUT's message in any sidebar discussions and will serve you well. Very well. (this is not to say you will never but that is another topic for another day). Here is a ray of hope for all: the arbitrators are the fairest ones in the process. DOE's cases look the strongest BEFORE they produce their first uncross-examined witness.

Anonymous said...

OK, at the risk of blogging on your comment section let me ammend my above comment to stress that NYSUT attorneys may even believe they have your interest at stake when they urge settlement but ask them this: "How will this effect a second 3020a if and when I am subject to another false or frivolous one?" I am not giving legal advice and serious and substantiated allegations are another matter. Of course, if the NYSUT attorney urges a favorable settlement that is another matter too.

Chaz said...

anon:

You are right on the money it what you said. It is best to fight your charges, except in unique cases. Most of the time the arbitrator will not terminate the teacher, except for serious misconduct or gross incompetence (time and attendance issues associated with the incompetence). However, as you correctly stated it is the fear of termination that pushes teachers to take deals.

I did write about this issues last month on November 10th and believe as you do. It's the teacher's fear and the DOE bluffing that allows the DOE to win.

Woodlass said...

Chaz,

I didn't know about this, so thanks for the report.

There is a PEP meeting at Tweed on Jan 26th. Would you like to read this aloud to the members of the Panel and ask if they are aware of this?

If not: Would you like me to do it? I'd be happy to, and I have nothing better planned.
In fact: since we only get two minutes each at the mic, several of us should take turns reading parts of this, nice and slowly. We could even read it over and over again, just in case Klein misses it when he consults his blackberry.

Jennifer said...

What about teachers that are in their third year of teaching, and are up for tenure?

Particularly older teachers ( like me) that are expensive? Is it possible that the new breed of Principals will deny us tenure and "discontinue" us because of these reasons, using the observation system to do so?

Any protection from the UFT there?

Chaz said...

Woodlass: That is a good idea. Maybe we should go as a group. I am concerned how few comments I received over this new development by my fellow bloggers and other teachers.

Jennifer: As an untenured teacher you need to keep quiet until after your third year of S ratings. Just stay off the radar. The union offers no protection for untenured teachers. Read my post on a Chapter Leader that was untenured and the failure of the union to do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer
Very Wise to read this blog. To be frank, you have far less rights than a McDonald's worker at this point. You can be dismissed for no cause at all. Keep as low a profile as possible and help the principal and smile at all of his/her jokes. Do not even offer suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Just by everyone demanding a full 3020a hearing, the current 3020a system will be overwhelmed, it never means to be handling hundreds of cases. Every teacher pending for the hearing should seriously consider his or her situation,and only take settlement when it is no other viable options.

Chaz said...

I agree with the anons about the 3020-a issue. However, we are talking about this sleazy DOE action plan by the TPU and what our union needs to do to stop it.

Jennifer said...

Chaz:

Thanks for your comment. However, in my third year, after two previous yearly satisfactory ratings, i received a "U" observation on a lesson that the building Principal observed. Now, I've been assigned to a "mentor" to help me with my lessons, and the Principal is demanding that I give her weekly lesson plans. Went to the Union, basically, they said they could do nothing, so long as the Principal plays by the rules. What do you all think of this situation out there?
So, the union does NOTHING at all? Looking forward to your comments on this. Thanks.

Tom.... said...

Geez. I work in a suburban St. Louis school, and I really got it good compared to this mess. My principal is a great guy, fair and very participatory. Sorry for your situation.
I wrote a novel about the fun adventures of a veteran middle school special ed teacher. I have posted the first chapter on my blog, www.tomsboomertimes.blogspot.com. I invite you and all your readers to check it out. It should be published in the next 6 months.
Hang in there. Tom

Anonymous said...

Are any of you familiar with the New York Freedom of Information Law?

Many school district officials around New York State are not thrilled about the fact that certain letters, notes, memoranda, reports, E-mails, and other types of records are available for public access.

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/ftext/f14287.htm

Study the following website carefully!

http://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/coogwww.html

Chaz said...

Jennifer

Just because the Principal gave you a "U" observation, it does not mean you will be getting a "U" rating. I suggest you follow your mentor's suggestions and get the AP on your side. Unless you have pissed off the Principal the Principal will follow the suggestions of the mentor and AP. If that doesn't work mske a deal with the Principal that you would look for another school next school year if you get an end of the year "S" rating and therefore tenure.

proofoflife said...

Chaz, I just went to a chapter leader meeting and none of this was mentioned. As a U rated advocate I had to back off of a case where a teacher was fined. I thought it was out of my league. Is the web site posted wher I can read about fines? No one taught me this when I was trained as an advocate. Who sets the fines? How do they deptermine them? Thanks CHaz!

Anonymous said...

i have made about 10 foil request to DoE, they always try to delay and try every trick on the book not to release the information you want. their foil officer will send you wrong stuff, the stuff you do not want, and will do everything she can to sabotage your effort.

Chaz said...

proofoflife:

This does not surprise me that the union is not informng the CL's of the DOE action plan on incompetence teachers. Since they have agreed to have the TPU group and the phony PIP+ program.

You would think that some CL would have read my blog or know of teachers that were pressured to resign and bring this up. However, most of the CL's are either union hacks or were elected to the position without knowing the contract and policy issues.

As for the fines. There appears to be no matrix or guidance on how a fine is determined. In the 3020-a hearings the fine can be negotiated be the NSUT @& DOE lawyers, or issued by the arbitrator. As for "U" rating hearings I was unaware that there is a fine component to it.

proofoflife said...

Chaz, I was to defend a senior teacher who received the "U" because he was late way too often. He was in a school that had split sessions and went to medical to ask for reasonable accommodations. ( can't think of the correct term now as I am a bit exhausted) He was on late session and had no problems getting there on time. The principal denied the accommodation. The denial was a deliberate tactic to get rid of this senior teacher. He had a medical condition which he had supporting documentation that made it very difficult for him to get to the school at the crack of dawn. To make a long story shorter he told me in addition to the "U" rating he was fined for being late. I don't mean docked. He told me he was fined. He is in the process of suing the DOE for discrimination of people with a handicap. I was never told about fines and this is why I didn't accept the file. I sometimes feel like a liar even trying to "defend" teachers with a "U" for lateness and absences because I don't think they have a chance in hell to over turn the U. Teachers are being given U ratings even if they take ten self treated days in a given year, but have a negative CAR because they borrowed days in past years. The whole thing is a bunch of bull. Thanks for trying to clarify the fines , but I still find it incredible that the fines are not set!

ed notes online said...

Chaz
I've been meaning to comment. I have gotten calls from people under the gun - one yesterday from someone who is being railroaded to resign from the NYSUT sleazy attorney.

I am trying to get some people to go public or get a sense of support so they can stand up.

More than commenting we need a support committee for people in this position.

I'm sending a contact off line.
norm

Chaz said...

proofoflife:

Maybe he was fined previously for the time and ATTENDANCE PROBLEM IN A PREVIOUS 3020-A PROCESS. Otherwise, I am at a loss of how he was fined.

Norm: I'm glad you have commented. I am very surprised the union has not commented on this development.

ed notes online said...

I'm not surprised at all Chaz when they are amongst the perps.

moriah said...

I am approaching the magic age of 62. I never planned to retire this soon, but I've been harrassed for four years and it has taken its toll on my health. I am therefore considering retirement. I've been in peer mediation since last May. My principal wants to sign me up for PIP-plus, so it looks like I am being led along the path that you describe. My problem is that I hate to retire and leave my file full of letters that make me look like the Teacher From Hell. It's like I'm admitting guilt. Do you know of a lawyer that could advise me on how to negotiate with the Principal From Hell?

Anonymous said...

Moriah

(I am not an expert or a lawyer)

Your chapter leader should actually be of some help here if you play your cards close to your vest and let him/her know that you are considering retiring in June of 2011. Trust nobody of course. Word might get back to the principal. If they go thru the process Chaz describes they are looking at possibly getting rid of you best case 2011 anyway. This (your moves)is just the start of a strategy that might result in a rather pleasant final year (09-10 or 10-11) and a pristine file. I wouldn't worry about your file after you retire but I know that some folks do. Just some thoughts to mull over as I am sure you are considering all sorts of courses of action. And yes, DOE does negotiate and, believe me, so do the NYSUT attorneys. NYSUT can actually be quite helpful if and when you decide retirement is right for you. But be sure the date YOU want to retire is not the same as the one you originally present.

Chaz said...

Moriah:

Anon is correct. Since you are approaching 62 and thinking of retiring anyway. Here is what I would suggest.

Take PIP+ and let them "U" rate you for this year. Starting next school year they will probably give you this resignation paper that will change all your "U"s to "S"s. You will spend the 2009-2010 school year in the rubber room and retire. However, if they try to do this before the end of this school year, you will refuse to sign it and be placed in the "rubber room" when they are ready to file 3020-a charges. Sometime during the 2009-2010 school year you will meet with your NYSUT lawyer who will offer you a similia deal as the one described previously.

If you want to fight the charges and go through the entire 3020-a process (recommended) it is quite likely that your case may not be finished until the 2010-2011 school year. Remember, very few teachers are terminated for simple incompetence.


I am more pessimistic than anon about what your CL can do here. The Principal has been told not to dump unwanted teachers on another school and they are afraid of Tweed coming down on them if they are caught doing this.

Chaz said...

Moriah:

I am glad you are blogging again and have put you back on my blogroll. Keep on blogging and expose the DOE for what it really is.

Anti-teacher
Children last
Abusing prosecutions
Unfair and biased investigations

Anonymous said...

Sitting in a rubber room next year (and burning a few sick days) knowing you are going to be paid for a year before retiring is not the worse thing in the world. Plus this year (08-09)will be oddly enjoyable as your principal struggles to write how horrible you are on PIP and you know you are heading out the door anyway. Plus, as Chaz writes, you can blog blog blog away. I've been on your revived blog and you are an excellent writer...that's it, you can write a valuable book about the experience - on DOE's time!! And if you decide to go thru the 3020a and fight it you can do this to gather more material for your book - this way you won't take it personally. I am going thru an absurd, and I think humorous, 3020 of my own and have often thought of writing a book. Mine is an example of a vindictive principal exaggerating a trivial (by anyone's standards ) matter and am so pleased I did not take the original settlement offer or even the revised cut-rate offer later proffered. Enough about me. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

The above is a response to Moira

Anonymous said...

Hello,
It was much to my delight that I discovered your blog, especially witnessing first hand how the UFT did very little to support me or my fellow teachers this past school year.

After being a high school English teacher in the South Bronx for a year and a half (and another half year in Brooklyn because I started out as ATR), I was given a U-rating at the end. The whole observation process was a farce. There were things in each observation that were fabricated. I only had four observations the entire school year. Probationary teachers are supposed to be given six. One of the observations I was not even told was going to happen. No pre-observation, no nothing. The principal just walked into my class with her coach (amazing how many coaches the principal had) and just sat in my class for approximately fifteen minutes. I do not think I need to even go into how little support in terms of discipline teachers received.

Furthermore, four out of the five teachers in my school who were in their second and third years of teaching in the city school system (all veteran teachers who have taught outside the city, mind you) were all given a U-rating for the year. We all compared our observations and they were all very similar. It was obvious that the principal and the assistant principal were following a formula that was meant to discredit teachers. Is this the DOE's stance against tenure? However, instead of taking the U, I agreed to resign. I thought about how hard it would be to find another teaching job outside the city with a U-rating.

Included in the resignation was a stipulation from the DOE that stated no litigation could be brought against them DOE, not attempt to seek any other employment with the DOE and that I give up my license (the UFT told me I was giving up my city license NOT my state certificate as an English teacher). It was a lot to take in because I was given a timeline that certainly was not efficient in making such a drastic decision. Strangely enough, I have heard very little about teachers being coerced to resignation stipulations. Perhaps, what I signed was not even legitimate. I hope one day I can teach again in the city public schools but I'm not going to hold my breath.

From my understanding over 5000 teachers in the city resigned. Meanwhile, the city hired over 4000 new teachers. I am sure a big portion of those teachers who are Fellows or from Teach For America. I could be wrong, and while I do not have anything against Teaching Fellows or teachers Teach For America per se, the way the DOE operates seems is to get rid of teachers who are up in their second and third years of probationary service by having principal U-ratings and then start the whole 3020a process so Teaching Fellows or Teach for American fellows with no teaching experience can be hired, some who are barely old enough to drink. It's obvious it is them who contribute to the ATR crisis and yet will most likely return to their home state and say to whoever will listen, "Let me into law school or medical school. I taught inner-city kids in the Bronx or Brooklyn for two years." Or they may join the creepy ranks of the charter schools. However, nobody paid for my masters degree in education except me and I finished my undergraduate degree from a reputable school. And I come from New York City. I sincerely hope I do not come across as bitter or full of sour grapes.
I would not trade my time in the South Bronx for anything. Currently, I work as an adjunct professor writing. I have a lot less stress. Plus, it's nice that I won't have to worry about nonsense like accountable talk, other nonsensical rhetoric that the DOE, like the charlatans they are espouse. What's ironic is with this class I'm given lot of "academic freedom" and can actually apply a lot of the meaningful things I learnt in my graduate program like critical literacy.