Saturday, October 24, 2009
Is It Important To Have An Open 3020-a Hearing? It Is Very Important
Under New York State Education Law 3020-a the tenured teacher can elect to have either an open or closed hearing. Both the DOE and UFT (NYSUT) do not want the teacher to have an open hearing because it is in both their interests to keep the hearings secret. I also suspect that the Arbitrator would prefer that the 3020-a hearing being presided over stay closed. The question then becomes why is it in the teacher's advantage to have an open hearing? TAGNYC and Rubber Room Reporter have always recommended that teachers should have an open 3020-a hearing but both never explained the advantages of having an open and public hearing. Therefore, I will try my best to explain why.
First: In the 3020-a hearing room the teacher will be overwhelmed , not to mention shocked, angry, and too busy writing responses and rebuttal notes to the slanderous attack upon his or her character by the DOE lawyer to adequately understand what is happening. The teacher may not pick up the context or ask the NYSUT attorney the proper questions for the NYSUT attorney to respond to the DOE lawyer's character assassination. By having another person to listen and observe in the hearing, the chances of something important slipping through becomes less likely.
Second: By having another set of eyes and ears in the 3020-a hearing, all parties will be more likely to follow the rules and not take liberties at the expense of the teacher who is usually unfamiliar with the process. Remember, the Arbitrator and the two lawyers (DOE & NYSUT) may work together for up to four years and the teacher becomes the outsider in the hearing and this may result in a decision different than if all the participants were strangers to each other.
Third: A sympathetic sounding board that gives the teacher and the NYSUT lawyer another point of view that might not have been considered as they prepared for the teacher's defense.
Fourth: The mere fact that the teacher wants people at the hearing tells both the Arbitrator and DOE lawyer that the teacher has nothing to hide and wants an open and public hearing to air out the allegations. Remember, most, if not all the allegations against the teacher are embellished, twisted, perverted, or not true and these allegations usually cannot stand up to the light of truth. By having an open hearing the light of truth shines that much brighter.
Finally: Remember, the DOE lawyer does not want you to have an open and public hearing and will do just about anything to stop you from having one. That should be the primary reason to have an open and public hearing.