Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Union Finally Wins A Small Victory On Corporal Punishment - How About A Big Victory On An Independent And Fair Investigation Process?
The NY Teacher reported that an Arbitrator sided with the union on language used for corporal punishment investigations. The union filed the grievance after the DOE changed language in the Chancellor's Regulations that made it easier for the DOE to charge members with Corporal Punishment and also allow the accusers not to be identified. Further, the arbitrator also ruled that the word "perceived" be deleted from the revised regulations since this word can be abused to claim a member interfered in an investigation simply by the Principal saying so,
While I am happy the union has finally won a small victory on the Corporal Punishment Regulations A-420, a much larger victory is needed. That is the elimination of the catch all phrase
"NO CORPORAL PUNISHMENT SHALL BE INFLICTED IN ANY OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, NOR PUNISHMENT OF ANY KIND TENDING TO CAUSE EXCESSIVE FEAR OR PHYSICAL OR MENTAL DISTRESS. VIOLATION OF THIS BYLAW SHALL CONSTITUTE GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL".
This vague phrase allows the DOE to charge a teacher with Corporal Punishment who has any sort of physical contact with a student, regardless if she was defending herself. Moreover, almost every member knows that when an administrator targets a teacher, the OSI investigator will substantiate the charges and file Corporal Punishment charges against the member. Without a fair and independent investigation the member is as good as charged. It does not matter that the physical contact was initiated by the student, or the teacher was assaulted, defending oneself can and will lead to Corporal Punishment charges based upon the Chancellor's Regulations if the teacher is targeted by an administrator.
The UFT must push for fairer and more evenhanded language and investigations when it comes to Corporal Punishment.