An Independent Voice That Advocates For The Classroom Educator Without The Corrupting Politics Tied To Our Union And DOE Leadership.
Friday, April 06, 2012
My Story On What Really Happened And Why The Independent Arbitrator Gave Me Only A $2,000 Fine In The 3020-a Hearing.
I woke up and went out to get the paper and found to my dismay that I was one of only sixteen teachers that SCI recommended for termination due to alleged "sexual misconduct" but were not terminated. The reason why we were not terminated by the "Independent Arbitrators" was real simple, that "we were not guilty of any sexual misconduct" that is why! While I do not know the full story of the other fifteen teachers I do know my own and here is my story.
It all started in October of 2006 when I had a failing student who was getting low grades on her tests, never participated or answered questions, and sat in the back of the classroom. I spoke to her a few times about moving her seat to the middle of the class and finally she reluctantly agreed to move forward. She still did not participate or answer questions but she seemed to be understanding the topic I was teaching, based on her homework. I still did not believe she was capable of passing the test but I encouraged her to keep trying, little did I know that she resented me for trying to encourage her academically. Later in the month I gave my classes a test and saw that she was visibly shaking, I came over to her and pattered her on her clothed shoulder and told her "calm down, it is only a test", she did calm down and a couple of days later I marked the test and to my pleasant surprise the student had actually passed the test! I was so happy for the student.
The next school day I gave back the test and when I gave the test back to the student, I was really proud of her accomplishment and I said out loud to her in a class of thirty students the following "I"m so proud of you passing the test I could just kiss you, of course I wouldn't do that because I would get in trouble"and laughed thinking she would take it as a compliment not anything else. To me it was just an expression of praise, nothing else. Little did I know that I was wrong and that she hated what I said and eventually decided to complain to her Guidance Counselor. The Guidance Counselor realized there was nothing to my expression of praise but reluctantly reported it to the Principal. Note, the Guidance Counselor did not appear for the DOE in my 3020-a hearing, I wonder why?
The Principal, who was forced to leave the DOE because of his poor management skills, decided that because I used the word "kiss" that it was a sexual issue and called SCI to report the alleged "sexual misconduct". The next week SCI showed up at my school and started to interview students about the incident, at this point SCI did not order my removal because there was some question about it being sexual in nature. However, the Principal, who I had issues with over the years, insisted it was and pushed SCI to do a complete investigation of me and finally convinced them that I should be removed a week later.
The SCI investigation of me lasted eight months as the SCI investigators came back to my school eight times as the Principal would line up carefully selected students (not random) who he heard might say bad things about me. The result was an SCI report that had a "preponderance of garbage" including third & fourth person hearsay statements, gossip, outright lies, and out of context alleged actions that allowed them the cover to substantiate the bogus sexual misconduct charges against me. The investigation would have continued into the next school year but the SCI investigators soon realized that despite the Principal's urging, there was really nothing but hearsay and typical high school gossip and closed the case. However, the damage was done.
The DOE Office Of Legal Services filed 3020-a charges against me in June of 2007 and charged me with "inappropriate behavior" with female students but did not charge me with "sexual misconduct". However, the DOE decided to try to get me on "major verbal abuse of a sexual nature" charges anyway by filling for a "probable cause hearing"in January 2008. For the DOE the "probable cause hearing" is usually a "slam dunk" since a very low level of evidence is needed. 95% of the teachers subject to a "probable cause hearing" are suspended for up to three months without pay and benefits. How little evidence is needed? It only takes the word of the SCI investigator for the "probable cause" Arbitrator to rule in favor for the DOE. However, in my case I won the "probable cause hearing" since the SCI investigator was caught in a lie by the Arbitrator when he tried to ignore his own report and changed what I said to the student. He told the Arbitrator that I said the following "I really want to kiss you but I I would get in trouble". Deliberately left out of the changed statement was the qualifier "I'm so proud of you" that was in his report. Furthermore. I never said "I really want to kiss you". The Arbitrator caught it and asked the SCI Investigator did the teacher say that? The SCI Investigator reluctantly admitted that it is what the girl told him and it was in his report. The Arbitrator said that this was not "major verbal abuse of a sexual nature" and he even questioned if the alleged misconduct rose to the level of a 3020-a.
After I won my "probable cause hearing". I was left in the reassignment center for another two and a half years before I finally started my 3020-a hearing in June of 2010. In the 3020-a hearing I was charged by the DOE of violating Chancellor's Regulations of Verbal Abuse A-421 and Harassment A-830. The problem the DOE had was readily obvious, the DOE's case rested on many hearsay and unfounded statements by students who refused to show up even when they were subpoenaed by the DOE. In fact, one of them ended up to be my witness! The only witnesses the DOE had was the SCI Investigator and the student. It turned out the student had made many conflicting statements to different people who interviewed her and when cross-examined at the hearing, kept changing her story and admitted that the DOE claimed statement of "If it's not going to get me in trouble I would kiss you" was incorrect. The SCI Investigator was calm but unconvincing since he was already caught in a lie during the "probable cause hearing" which was put into evidence.
The DOE put on two witnesses while I had four, including myself. I did tell the Arbitrator that I realized what I said was clumsy and I would not use the word "kiss" again in dealing with students since it only takes one student to misinterpret the meaning. However, for the DOE to charge me with something sexual is outrageous and not right. The Arbitrator agreed and found me "innocent of any sexual misconduct" and only found that I embarrassed the girl with my statement in front of the class and gave me a $2,000 fine.
In conclusion, my four and a half year nightmare consisted of a clumsy statement in a room full of students to a girl that didn't like me and a Principal that decided that using the word "kiss" is sexual, no matter how it was used and a SCI Investigator who believed the Principal and made sure the most innocent statements by the alphabet of selected students interviewed were twisted, embellished, and perverted into a sleazy/sexual verbal abuse that failed to materialized under scrutiny.
The DOE should be ashamed of themselves, for trashing and trying to humiliate the 16 teachers who Independent Arbitrators found "no sexual misconduct" In my case, they had a weak and bogus case to begin with and lost. If they really think the Independent Arbitrator was wrong, why didn't they appeal it to the courts? Instead they encourage the news media to call us "pervy teachers" as if the biased SCI investigation process is really fair while the Independent Arbitrators who see all the evidence are not. Thank god for "due process" and the Independent Arbitrator who makes the DOE actually show relevant evidence to prove their accusations.
My Name? Eric Chasanoff and proud to be a teacher.