Thursday, June 17, 2010
According To The DOE Teachers Are Guilty Until Proven Guilty But Are Never Innocent
There is tremendous pressure on reassigned teachers to admit guilt and take a settlement as the UFT and DOE want to eliminate the backlog by the December 31st 2010 date as proposed in the "rubber room agreement". Under the UFT/DOE agreement under 3020-a teacher innocence is not an option since the Arbitrator will always give something to the DOE for their efforts to terminate the teacher since the Arbitrators can only stay on the panel with the DOE's (and UFT's) approval. Therefore, it is extremely rare (2%) for a teacher to be found innocent, For example, the teachers accused of incompetence and took PIP+ the DOE deal was to irrevocably resign after one year or pay a significant fine ($15,000) to stay on for two years. Unless the teacher is ready to retire these settlements are unrealistic and are being rejected. The same goes for teachers subject to SCI investigations where the SCI investigator did not recommend termination. One teacher was offered a $70,000 fine and two courses and many others were given deals that exceeded $10,000 and suspensions of up to one year. Few of these teachers have actually taken such deals and are awaiting their 3020-a hearings or the long-awaited mediation. Regardless of the settlement, the teacher admission of guilt in taking the settlement is of prime importance to the DOE and will result in almost certain termination if the teacher is charged again under 3020-a.
Complaints to the UFT leadership about how the DOE has violated the spirit of the "rubber room agreement" has been met with indifference and inaction as not all teachers are being offered mediation and the DOE settlements in some cases are outrageous. Granted, nobody is putting a gun to a teacher's head to take a settlement but when the NYSUT attorney and the Arbitrator is telling the teacher the alternative could be termination, what is the teacher to do? It takes a brave teacher to say no when the possibility of termination is on the table and in all 3020-a hearings the DOE asks for termination as the only possible remedy. You can explain that only 10% of the teachers actually are terminated but when the teacher's own lawyer and Arbitrator tell them what the alternative can be, the teacher gets scared and takes a deal under duress.
It appears that the DOE philosophy that all teachers charged are guilty and stay guilty when they take a settlement is still in force and not in danger of changing anytime soon. Shame on the DOE and shame on the UFT for not changing the "teacher is guilty" process.