Monday, January 25, 2010

Can A Teacher Really File 3020-a Charges Against An Abusive & Vindictive Principal? The Answer Is No.



While reading my good buddy's blog, South Bronx School, I ran into a claim from the crack (or is that cracked) SBSB staff that any individual can file 3020-a charges against a tenured teacher or administrator. Boy, was I excited. I would demand that the union file 3020-a charges against the PINI principals that they identify in the New York Teacher and watch as Tweed complains loudly that the principals would be afraid to go after staff and be unable to do their job. Gone would be the unfair removal of staff without the Principal being investigated to determine if he or she should be subject to 3020-a charges by the union However, after talking to people in the know, inside and outside the union I found out New York State Education Law 3020-a allows only the superintendent of a school district or their appointed representatives who can file 3020-a charges.

Unfortunately, in New York City the Chancellor has appointed the ATU (misconduct) and TPU incompetence) legal staffs as the proper units to file 3020-a charges against teachers. These groups are only too eager to file "just cause" charges by believing all the hearsay statements given to them by the Principal and the corrupt investigators. The truth? This is not about the truth it is to get the teacher.

We teachers really do need a level playing field and the only reasons we are not terminated by DOE's Office of Legal Services is that under New York State Law we have "due process rights" and the DOE's flimsy evidence and hearsay statements must be brought in front of an Arbitrator who hears from both sides. However, many Arbitrators accept stand alone hearsay and it puts the teacher and her lawyer on the defensive and assumes that the Administrator or child has more credibility than the accused teacher. This is unfair and must be changed by giving all parties equal credibility and to dismiss hearsay, unless supported by actual evidence. Therefore, the union must remove Arbitrators who depend on the use of unsupported hearsay as a basis for their decision. This will help level the playing field for all teachers subject to 3020-a charges.

11 comments:

A Teacher In The Bronx said...

Oh it was a nice dream while it lasted.

Chaz said...

I was so hoping you were correct.

Jonathan said...

How are the arbitrators chosen? And who is their employer?

Jonathan

Chaz said...

Jonathan:

The arbitrators are chosen by both the DOE and UFT (NYSUT). They have a one year term and if one or the other side do not like their decisions, the Arbitrator is removed. Hence, there are very few aquittals and a few terminations. Most of the decisions fall in the gray area of fines and suspensions.

The State pays the Arbitrators about $1500 per day and usually pays them about 6 months later. Many arbitrators are frustrated with the way the State pays them and quits. Therefore, more delays and 2 year waits in the rubber room.

moriah said...

If the arbitrators are chosen by both the DOE and UFT, then why don't the teachers have equal credibility? Does our own Union assume that we are innocent until proven guilty? From inside the Rubber Room it doesn't feel that way.

NYC Educator said...

Seems to me if they had actual evidence they wouldn't need hearsay.

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Anonymous said...

Perhaps the following from New York Public Personnel Law at http://publicpersonnellaw.blogspot.com might be helpful concerning "authority and discretion" with respect to filing disciplinary charges:

School board has discretion in determining whether or not to file disciplinary charges against an employee
Appeal of T.D. and K.D., from action of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Oswego, et al; Decisions of the Commissioner of Education, Decision No. 16,008

Among the issues addressed by the Commissioner of Education in this appeal was the refusal of the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Oswego and its superintendent to discipline and remove their sons’ fourth grade teacher from the classroom.

T.D. and K.D. alleged that the teacher had “breached the district’s Code of Conduct on at least 12 occasions; that the teacher’s “methodologies are lacking in instructional content and are demeaning, derisive and punitive,” and that their children “suffered academically” as a result.

As to a remedy, T.D. and K.D. asked the Commissioner to investigate* the district’s handling of their complaints, remove the teacher from further contact with children, and provide for revisions to the district’s code concerning how future complaints of this nature are to be addressed.

After addressing a number of procedural issues, the Commissioner considered the merit of the appeal. Noting that “a board of education has broad powers pursuant to Education Law §1709(13) and (33) concerning the superintendence, management, and control of a school district” and that a school board “has broad discretion to determine whether disciplinary action against employees is warranted,” the Commissioner said that he would not substitute his judgment for that of a board of education “unless it is demonstrated that the board acted arbitrarily, capriciously, abused its discretion or failed to comply with applicable laws.”

Commissioner said that the record indicates that T.D. and K.D:

1. Were provided with several opportunities to meet with the principal, superintendent, and members of the board;

2. That the superintendent briefed the board; and

3. Required the principal to investigate and report on the complaints, conducted his own unannounced observation of the teacher and instituted a plan of action that included providing additional support to the teacher.

Concluding that there was nothing improper with the district’s handling and investigation of T.D’s. and K.D’s complaints, the Commissioner dismissed the appeal.

* The Commissioner said that "an appeal to the Commissioner is appellate in nature and does not provide for investigations," citing Appeal of V.M., 46 Ed Dept Rep 531, Decision No. 15,584 and Appeal of Koehler, 46 id. 425, Decision No. 15,553.

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Anonymous said...

Actually, procedural violations exist in many if not most 3020a proceedings brought up by NYC/DoE. Most common ones are either the failure to provide the employee (teacher) a list of names of arbitrators with their bio information, and/or the failure to complete the final hearing within 60 days of the pre-hearing.

Wonder if anyone who has knowledge of the appeals under the NY Code article 75 and 78 for procedural violations before, during and post hearings? No tenured teachers should be disciplined without just cause and without the compliance with the procedures specified in the 3020 laws.

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