Friday, February 18, 2011

My DOE Incarceration Is Over - Free At Last!



Yes, it is true after 1567 days, my DOE incarceration is finally over. The DOE, while never admitting defeat, has thrown in the towel and surrendered to the inevitable truth and has put me back into a school.

The DOE really had no choice since my Arbitrator, bless her soul, found no misconduct on my part and gave me a slap on the wrist for making a student uncomfortable based upon a clumsy statement on my part that happened in a classroom of 30 students. This was more about the student then myself but as we all know the Arbitrators must give something to the DOE because that is how the system works.

What lessons have I learned during my DOE-enforced incarceration? Many
  • That teachers who had the PIP+ program will almost certainly be terminated by the Arbitrator.
  • There are few acquittals and there is about a 20% termination rate if the teacher goes through the 3020-a hearings. However, many (not all) of the Arbitrator decisions tend to be more lenient to the teacher then the settlements the DOE offers if he or she takes the 3020-a hearing to its conclusion.
  • There is really no matrix between what the teacher is charged with and what the Arbitrator decides as an "award". Every 3020-a case is different, and the outcome depends on many factors. Therefore, there is no way to know what the final decision will be. This uncertainty leads many frightened teachers to accept settlement terms with the DOE that includes significant fines ($5,000 to $15,000) and a course or two.
  • The Union leaders believe all reassigned teachers are "guilty of something" and they should stay quiet and be clueless to the procedures until the reassignment process ends. In fact, they warn newly reassigned teachers not to talk to others about their case so as to control the flow of information to the frightened teacher.
  • Many good teachers are reassigned due to vindictive and insecure principals and there is no consequences to these administrators when the charges are found to be false or frivolous.
  • A majority of the charges against teachers are greatly embellished, taken out of context, twisted, and false. The Arbitrator does not look kindly to this when the DOE fails to show proof of the charges in testimony. Remember, it is hard to remember a lie but easy to remember the truth and this shows up in the 3020-a hearings where witnesses are under oath.
  • The teacher is the most important witness in the 3020-a hearing. The Arbitrator always wants to hear from you. Therefore, if you handle yourself well and tell the truth, the Arbitrator will take that in account when issuing the "award". Never lie! If you are caught in a lie, none of your testimony will be credible and it can lead to your termination.
  • Some teachers should never be in the classroom again. However, the DOE seems to make deals with these same problem teachers time and again and send them back to the classroom. unbelievable, but true. I will write a follow up about these people at a later date.

Finally, never go into a meeting with the Principal or an Investigator without union representation, never, never, never! Too many teachers found themselves out of the classroom after going into the Principal's office without union representation and end up hanging themselves based upon their own statements.

77 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now that you are back in the classroom are you going to stop being bitter and angry?

Caborita said...

Congratulations! So glad this is over for you.

Secretary in the Bronx

Anonymous said...

What did they accuse you of doing?

Anonymous said...

I respect you for standing tall and fighting for your rights.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Chaz: Congratulations on your perseverance and success.

As for Anonymous 8:04: trolls should return to the rock from under which they came.

Mr. Talk said...

Congrats, man! What great news heading into a break! Now you can enjoy it without worrying about all the crap the DOE has thrown at you.

I hope you plan to keep up the blogging no matter what.

MsM said...

Felicidades!

MsM said...
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Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me the complete story of Chaz?

reality-based educator said...

Glad to hear it, Chaz! Your determination to clear your name and your reputation are a model for all us vets who will eventually all get targeted if Bloomberg gets his way. It's good to hear some good news!!!

As for the 8:04 anonymous commenter - you want anger?

Come on over to Perdido Street School.

I'll give you some anger over there.

Anonymous said...

Making threats is not necessary. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and at no time should you physically threaten someone.

Anonymous said...

Great example for the kids Realty-Based Educator. I hope my children never have you as a teacher.

Anonymous said...

I've met him--he is not bitter and angry at all. All he does here is report the truth--soemthing all teachers need to hear.

Ms. Tsouris said...

I'm full of anger and I know how to use it. Congrats, Chaz! You kept yourself positive, focused and energetic, and never sounded bitter or angry. This is becoming a fight for freedom. Who'd have ever thought that a simple career choice has become regarded as criminal activity worthy of unwarranted punishment? The injustices are accumulating.

Chaz said...

Anon 8:04

I am not bitter and angry. However, you don't understand what it is to be accused of major misconduct when it was just a simple expression of praise that was clumsy in a room full of students.

I hope for your and any others sake you never have to go through what I went through.

Pogue said...

I would be honored to have Chaz or Reality-based-educator as my children's teachers.

Rock on, Chaz! Congratulations.

Now let's go "Wisconsin" on this NYC DOE.

Anonymous said...

What sexual comment did you make?

Chaz said...

Anon 6:00

Get your mind out of the gutter. There was no sexual comment or any other misconduct.

Anonymous said...
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Philip Nobile said...

Brother Chaz,
We have somewhat similar stories. I was falsely accused by Principal of Cobble Hill, spent three years in Brooklyn's Chapel St. TRC, refused a deal, represented myself at 3020a, was explicitly acquitted of all three charges (two corporals and racist remark in TRC)yet ended up with $10,000 fine when Arbitrator, obviously currying favor with DOE, screwed me for things I wasn't charged with and that were not even chargeable under the law. I expect to win on appeal. You should consider the appeal route too.

Anonymous said...
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zulma said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful news to hear! When one of our colleagues is vindicated, you have to celebrate.

Chaz, I'm happy to hear this. You did not deserve that injustice. I know that they are teachers still going through the 3020-a torture. I truly hope that you continue to advocate for them through your blog.

Good luck for the rest of the school year. Going to Wisconsin isn't a bad idea!

Chaz said...

Unity Hack:

I deleted your perverted comments.
You are a real sicko. Read the article. It was an alleged inappropriate comment as defined by the Arbitrator. There was no misconduct of any kind. Why do you persist to say otherwise?

Chaz said...

Zuima:

I will not stop exposing DOE hypocrisy and injustice and when the union fails to adequately protect the members I will let everybody know it.

Bronx Teacher said...

Hey Chaz, mozel tov! I am glad you put up the good fight. Keep fighting the good fight.

jd2718 said...

Welcome back. And congratulations.

Will you have a program right away? I'm assuming you've really missed the classroom... years for a nothing charge - absolutely nuts.

Jonathan

Anonymous said...
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harvey said...

Congratulations Chaz, an honest man prevailed! As a veteran teacher I (and those who have educated ourselves through your imprisonment reports) know 'there for the grace of God go I'. You fought a long tough fight for us all as the canary in the coalmine. You have my best wishes going foward.

Anonymous said...

Glad see you support the threats made by reality-based educator.

ASTRAKA said...

Congratulations Chaz,

and thank you for not giving up!

bookworm said...

Congratulations. I have been following your story quietly and am heartened to hear that is it still possible to stand up in this sick bureaucracy and prevail.

I agree with the previous poster - time for NYC to follow Wisconsin's lead and show them what we're made of. Any time, any day, my family and I are there.

The Veteran Teacher said...
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NYC Educator said...

Congratulations, Chaz. Ignore the boneheads and focus on the future!

This story shows where the ineptitude in NYC really is, despite the drum beat of nonsense emanating from Tweed, ERN, and E4E, our own little axis of evil.

Queens Teacher said...

Congratulations. So happy for you!

Chaz said...

To VT:

You are correct. While it is finally over, it was no victory. Even if the entire case was dismissed by the Arbitrator, which does not happen in the NYC version of 3020-a, the absurd, and deliberately twisted charges by a vindictive and insecure Administrator resulted in my removal and there are no consequences against him for this.

Anonymous said...

Chaz:
I am sorry to break the news, but if you got a slap on the wrist, then that is not an acquittal. Please post the decision. A $2000 fine is not a slap on the wrist.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Ann 11:24. We have been reading Chaz's comments all of this time. Lets see for ourselves what happened.
Also, if this is actually a good decision, perhaps if Chaz posts it, it can help others. NYSUT does not share other teacher arbitration decisions.

Anonymous said...

Me too: I agree with Annon 11:24 and 11:28. Also, Chaz I think it would be important to explain if you used a NYSUT attorney and if you thought that was a good choice. We really could use some guidance in determining whether we should hire a private lawyer as many advocate.

Anonymous said...

So, Chaz did you use a Unity supported lawyer? At least admit it if you did. See, Unity is not that all bad! Post the decision. Lets see for ourselves. And post the entire decision-not parts of it.

Anonymous said...

I had a private attorney and eventually used a NYSUT attorney in my 3020a. I have to say despite the games my NYSUT attorney played in her attempt to coerce settlement, which I rejected, I am pleased with her competent representation at the trial. My NYSUT attorney adheres to the professional code in all aspects of the proceedings after we moved passed the settlement stage.

There are indeed some major differences between private and NYSUT attorneys mainly due to their innate interests than anything else. All NYSUT attorneys under the directives of their supervisor relentlessly push for settlement to increase productivity and to cut expenses. A private attorney probably will not mind as much for a trial as he or she always collect more fees in a lengthy trial.
Treat attorneys as a piece of tool, if you learn how to use it, NYSUT ones are just as good except no worrying about the expenses for a private one.

Chaz said...

Unity Hack:

I know the last four posts are you and I will not post my decision. However, I will say this to you.

First, I did use a NYSUT lawyer and he did a good job in defending me. However, let's get something straight here. We pay dues of $1,200 yearly for the right to have NYSUT supply a lawyer to protect our "due process rights". However, the same dues also go to the UFT fat cats who make $137,000 annually andeat quail on our tab.

Second, as you know quite well a $2,000 fine is a mere wrist slap if you understand the NYC version of the 3020-a process which I'm sure you know.

Finally, taking a private lawyer only makes sense if you and your NYSUT lawyer are having differences in preparing your case. I believe most of the NYSUT attorneys are hard-working and caring people and will do their best to help the teacher in keeping their job.

Anonymous said...

Victory is always a relative concept. Wars are often the conflicts of attrition. I consider that Chaz won because he singlehandedly held the mighty DOE at bay for more than 4 years and if every teachers under the 3020a charges did what Chaz did, BloomKlein's nonsense would be stopped. Someone has to take a stand even many fold like a cheap camera.

The Veteran Teacher said...

Is it just me or are ANON 11:28, 11:31 and 11:34 the same person? That is pathetic.

Chaz said...

My previous post does not include Anon 11:51 who wrote an excellent comment on the difference between having a NYSUT lawyer and a private lawyer.

Anonymous said...
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The Veteran Teacher said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Chaz said...

Unity Hack:

I really believe you need some psychiatric help. Please crawl back under the rock you came from and stop wasting my time.

Philip Nobile said...

Chaz,
Regrettably, any fine, even a puny $2000, is as good as a head-on guilty verdict. You, like me, have been demoted to ATR status by virtue of an Arbitrator's Solomonic decision. In my case, presumably similar to yours, the Arbitrator found no violation of the Chancellor's Regulations and therefore the alleged misconduct never rose to 3020a level in the first place. Yet we were fined for something the Arbitrator judged "inappropriate." Such minor matters are handled at the school level with discipline of some kind--e.g., a letter to file or a counseling memorandum.

Things get nasty only in the presence of hostile supervisors. With the connivance of OSI rogues and rubber stamp superintendents the DOE can reassign a turkey club. And by some unknown quirk in the law or contract, the DOE has the right to strip away our appointed jobs even when acquitted of the charges. What's wrong with this picture?

As for NYSUT, the killer instinct is repressed. The Nuremberg defendants had stronger advocates. Despite the UFT's May '09 DA Resolution condemning OSI's "biased" inquiries, NYSUT lawyers refuse to pounce on the corruption and perjury underlying DOE prosecutions.

Chaz said...

Phillip:

I agree with you that many of these incidents should never have risen to the 3020-a level. I also know teachers never charged but lost their appointed jobs anyway and are now ATRs.

As for NYSUT your case was much more complected and political than mine and I can only say they did right by me.

Anonymous said...

Mazel tov, "Chaz"! I am so delighted for you! But, since being reunited with MY school, all they have done is to try and set me up over and over again. They handed me the program of a teacher who left because of harassment, and her classes have a way over random percentage of known Dean's office frequent flyers (surprise!), they deny me access to ARIS/Daedulus databases, necessitating me to run all over the building to find working phone numbers to call parents of misbehaving students, they refuse to change the name on the attendance sheets to my name instead of the original teacher so that the wonderful children keep calling me a substitute and tell me they don't have to listen to me, and these attendance sheets aren't put into my mail slot as all other teachers, but have to be personally retrieved from the AP. When I fill out referrals on misbehaviors, they are ignored by the Deans, and highly disruptive students are left in my classroom, where I am daily subjected to F__ you, B___ch, Gonna get you fired, etc. by these lovely students. Try teaching the kids who WANT to learn while a cacophony of shrieks, banging on desks, turned-up iPods, curses, etc. is going on, and the students doing it pay no attention whatsoever to requests to stop. They know the Deans won't come and that referrals won't be acted upon. Indeed, I have been told that I may only pick up 1 or 2 referrals from the Dean's office at a time, and that excessive use of them is evidence of poor classroom management. The AP Security went so far as to grab them from my hand in the hall, and take me to the Principal to undergo a Tut, Tut, Bad, Bad reprimand for the use of Dean's referrals. Oh, the SmartBoard is vandalized, necessitating valuable classroom time be wasted while I figure out how to repair it and do so, and then they run to the AP with fictitious accounts of mistreatment by me in an attempt to get back to the daily subs they grew to love after the original teacher left, because they got to watch movies every day and use their cellphone, text, talk, etc. unimpeded instead of being expected to display a modicum of classroom behavior and do work. I sincerely hope that you are successful in being placed back in your school, but I fear you will be subjected to similar treatment.

Anonymous said...

All, please watch "waiting for 'superman'". Great movie.

Anonymous said...

Any teacher can be brought up for charges of any offense or no offense. A teacher can be charged for hampering the good order, the efficiency or the discipline of the service, which can be anything or nothing.
The only chance a teacher gets completely exonerated is when his or her charge(s) are few (1 or 2) and more importantly, charges are so legally unsound that an arbitrator has no option but to throw it out, A teacher's chance of possible exoneration almost has nothing to do with the facts on the ground, if DoE lawyer did not do a terrible legal job in formation of the charges, you got disciplined, period.

It has nothing to do with the merit of the case, has nothing to do with having a private or a NYSUT lawyer. It really comes down to the unspoken guideline for an arbitrator to give DOE the benefit of the doubt in meting out any discipline actions from fine to suspension against teachers, and at the same time to give a teacher the benefit of the doubt in making the termination decision. No teacher will ever come out a hero even a hero he or she is and was.

Anonymous said...

If arbitrators don't fire bad teachers they should not be reappointed. If arbitrators find teachers guilty of something to make the DOE happy, as you suggest, they should not be reappointed. Under the CBA, they have to be reappointed every year.
It is too easy to blame the arbitrators, the NYSUT lawyers or the system.
Teachers are human and make mistakes.Not every mistake warrants termination or even a 3020-a, but we all know that many do.
But, with respect Chaz, for people like you to claim victory is just not right. The fact of the matter is you were convicted. If you don't like the decision you can appeal it as Philip explained.
That decision will remain in your file permanently. It may be fatal to you if your ever in trouble again. It may prevent you from becoming an AP, if that is what you want to do and most importantly, very likely will result in you being laid off-if layoffs come.
Sorry, but I support Unity, but am not a Unity Hack. Frankly, I am not even sure what a Unity Hack is. I am a teacher in trouble. I simply write this because your post is a bit misleading by claiming victory. It is hard for me to understand your victory.

Anonymous said...
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The Veteran Teacher said...
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Anonymous said...

Congrats--I cannot even imagine what it was like for you.

To a specific Anon: A UFT attorney is not a UNITY attorney.
Why do you make such a distinction?
I and others expect to be represented by the best since it's OUR DUES that pay for these services. Or should it be only Unity loyalists who get representation? The problem Chaz rightfully pointed out is the process that is very anti teacher that allowed good teachers to be sent to the RR.

Also, any one with common sense would know that RBE's comment re: anger was in the form of a debate because I do not know how one can sent to an emergency room by a blow by blow debate.

As for Unity--thank you Randi Weingarten for paving the way for politicians to take away collective bargaining rights. You givebacks and under-the-table deals like allowing VAM to be used as a major evaluation tool (when every study proves it is faulty) to fire teachers in Washington, DC--use it as a tool against teachers in Colorado--and know give newspapers the right to publish names. Your closeness to Gates and Duncan are showing you (and Unity) what wolves you are.

Chaz said...

Anon: 10:20

I mostly agree with you on your analysis of the NYC 3020-a process when it comes to the Arbitrator. However if you truly understand the 3020-a process, teacher acquittals are rare. In my TRC of the 240 teachers who were charged under 3020-a during my 1567 days, only 2 were acquitted. That is less than 1%!

Yes, it is true the 3020-a goes on the license. However, the two teachers who were acquitted were shocked to find out that their State teaching certificate has a 3020-a attached to it. As for the people who take settlements? If they go through a later 3020-a the settlement is an admission of guilt and one Arbitrator told a teacher he eventually terminated that he should have gone through his 3020-a hearing even if the Arbitrator found him guilty since the teacher never admitted guilt.

Anon 10:47

You are right this was not a victory except that when the DOE files 3020-a charges against you it is because they want to terminate you. Therefore, they lose even if you don't win.

As for what Arbitrators do? It is how the process works. The Arbitrators need to keep both sides happy if they are to stay on the panel. Therefore, the game is to get the lightest or most severe penalty as possible.
Firing the Arbitrators does not work since it is very difficult to find Arbitrators acceptable to both sides who know they can wait years to be paid by the State.

By the way the Arbitrators will fire bad teachers when it is in front of him or her. However, the DOE keeps making deals with these bad teachers and sends them back to the classroom. You need to read this post and it links to cases dealing with the worst of the worst.

Chaz said...

By the way. I never claimed victory. I spent five birthdays away from the classroom and while it hurt me it hurt many of the students who had inferior or non-certified teachers instructing them in Regents science in the last five years.

"Children last" and no victory for anybody.

Anonymous said...

Chaz,

agree with you in the extreme slim chance of acquittal for teachers. Having been in the current situation for more than 3 years, I noticed that usually the more serious charge is, the higher percentage of acquittal occurs. These are the cases involved mostly single charge, when DoE fails to prove, the case gets dismissed.
When a principal did his or her work, planned well, and had a good setup, that teacher got disciplined. As long as DoE side builds and provides a hook, smallest it may be, an arbitrator will hang a quilty verdict on it. No hook, no verdict, that is how it works.

Chaz said...

Anon 12:44

I agree. One of the two acquittals was a criminal case and the jury found the teacher innocent in a 24 minute deliberation. The DOE proceeded with his 3020-a charge and the Arbitrator found the teacher innocent since he could only offer two verdicts. As he said in his decision "you can't be a little pregnant" either the teacher did it or not. He didn't do it.

Years ago I realized how the NYC 3020-a process worked and accepted it with its many flaws.

Philip Nobile said...

How's this for a freaky Arb decision? The DOE (OEO) corruptly accused me of making racist remark in the rubber room. But Arb explicitly acquitted me of discrimination as charged (A-830)and ruled that my black accuser lied when he denied asking me a question with(cover your ears) the word "Negro" in it,to which I politely replied using same word.

Yet Arb sustained the discrimination charge anyway because he said that I used the word "control" in my reply even though the DOE never charged with using "control," nor did the OEO investigator find that I said "control," nor did the DOE lawyer ever argue in the hearing that I spoke that word. In fact, the Superintendent who reviewed the OEO report concluded that I employed the verb "quiet down." King Solomon must be turning sumersaults in his tomb. Now you realize why I'm appealing and will win.

Ms. George said...

Chaz: congratulations seem an odd choice of words, but based upon what you've been through, I am glad it is over and you have some vindication at least. Keep up your good work of calling attention to what really goes on in the DOE. Too many people outside of the classroom have no idea that just one comment taken out of context can ruin a teacher, not to mention that a student can virtually make something up and still ruin a teacher.
I know you should ignore the anonymous trolls/hacks, et al, but I did want to address the comments at 4:39, 4:40, and 9:50.
Do you all (or is it one of you) realize that Reality-Based Educator at 4:24 is referring to the justifiable anger on the BLOG Perdido Street School? That was not a threat to "come to my physical school so I can 'get all angry at you' in person"! Good Goddess, people!

Anon. said...

Congratulations Chaz. One other thing about the union leadership: they take the attitude that they are doing something for you by merely getting you a lawyer. Just as Mulgrew doesn't debate LIFO - aka SENIORITY - head on, he never, nor did Weingarten, really go on the offensive to expose the attack on teachers here in the city or nationwide. Sadly, as a result, most people are under the impression that teachers are largely a degenerate group of incompetents who, if they land in a rubber room should really be there. Instead of exposing the agenda against teachers and if you will, building a fence around the dangerous curve in the mountain highway, the union merely provides an ambulance at the bottom of the mountain to deal with the victims who go over the side - also known as a NYSUT lawyer. And of course, the national agenda against teachers, for all of us who connect the dots, is only one nerve ending of the class war going on against all working people in this country.

Chaz said...

Phillip:

As I said before the Arbitrator must find something, even if it is ticky-tac. This way the DOE renews the Arbitrator when the yearly contract expires.

Ms. George:

You are so right. It was one comment that was deliberately taken out of context that landed me in the "rubber room" for 4.5 years.

Anon 5:57

I just love the statement "and if you will building a fence around a dangerous curve on a mountain highway , the union merely provides an ambulance at the bottom of the mountain to deal with the victims that go over the side".

Of course if the UFT build a fence so that there would be few victims and ambulance (NYSUT lawyer) would not be needed. However, the union rarely, if ever changes the DOE on removing teachers.

Anonymous said...

To anon 2:33,

I do not know if "Waiting for the superman" is a good movie or not, but I do know that a good movie appeals to the emotions and senses rather than the viewers reason and logic. A good movie is similar to a processed food, which is tasty but usually bad for your health.

proofoflife said...

WOW!!! I am really happy for you Chaz. I noticed the post on Norms page. I have been so damn disgusted and depressed with how we seasoned teachers are treated and portrayed that I have been avoiding reading the blogs. This is really good news. You are my hero! Anyone who could live through that stress deserves a metal of honor! Yeah!

Anonymous said...

Appeal sir. The fine is useless. Take it to the state. You have nothing to lose.

Chaz said...

Just time, money, anda less than 10% chance of winning. No thanks.

Anonymous said...

Success rate of appeal is extremely low, and the legal process is quite expensive. From business point of view, it does not make much sense to spend 5 k to appeal 2 k fine. even you win, you end up losing 3 k.

Chaz said...

Anon 7:50

I do agree. My understanding is that maybe one out of ten win. Which only means that the Court tells the Arbitrator to take another look at the decision since it is flawed. The judge very rarely, if ever, will find a teacher innocent based upon the 75-11 appeal. The DOE does slightly better about a 20% success rate and usually asking for termination.

Anonymous said...

What am I missing here?-just came upon this while perusing Norm's Blog-Did you actually spend 5 years in detention for making an "off the cuff comment"?

Chaz said...

Yes, that is true. The Arbitrator wrote: "That respondent made an inappropriate comment which embarrassed the student in the presence of others in the class". That is it.

Anonymous said...

C'mon now!!!!

Chaz said...

Anon 11:54

Read my latest post and that answers your question.

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