I have read today's New York Post article called "The Dance Of The Lemons" and believe people deserve a closer and more accurate explanation at what actually happens when a teacher is accused of incompetence. As the liaison of the Queens "rubber room" for three years, I have seen well over a hundred teachers who were accused of "incompetence" and until the union-approved infamous PIP+ program was implemented, the DOE did make deals with many of the teachers who were brought up on 3020-a charges for incompetence simply because it was time consuming and difficult to prove a teacher was actually incompetent. The average fine the DOE negotiated with these teachers was $5,000 dollars and a course on classroom management. The reason why the DOE lawyers made these deals with teachers accused of incompetence lies with the fact that many of the charges were brought by principals who lack expertize in the classroom themselves. This is especially true about the "Leadership Academy Principals" For example, the school Administration would claim a Science teacher is incompetent but have no Science Administrator testify as a witness against the teacher. Without an "expert witness" to testify against the teacher, the independent Administrator would not agree to terminate the teacher. Therefore, it was easier to make a deal with the teacher than go through a six month to a year or more in a 3020-a hearing knowing that termination was a remote possibility.
However, everything changed when the UFT and DOE agreed to a voluntary program called PIP+ in the October 13, 2007 contract. found under Article 21.J (page 123). This program was supposed to allow for an independent evaluation of the teacher by an "expert" on teaching. Unfortunately. the PIP+ program turned out to be a teacher termination program, with an over 90% failure rate! While a few enlightened Chapter Leaders have told their staff not to take PIP+ and may have saved that teacher his or her job, many of the CLs follow the union's lead in advising their members to take PIP+ to give them an extra six months in the classroom without realizing that it will almost always end up in the teacher's termination. Too bad since an Arbitrator has already ruled that a teacher's failure to take PIP+ cannot be used in a 3020-a hearing.
That brings me to the present. The New York Post article claims that of the 166 teachers brought up of 3020-a incompetence charges in the last two years, the DOE managed to get rid of 117 from the DOE payroll, or 70%. I suspect that most of the teachers that kept their positions (49) never took PIP+ and therefore were not faced with an "expert witness" against them in the 3020-a hearing. The rest either were terminated in the 3020-a hearing (29), resigned, or retired in a settlement (88).
With regard to the settlements. According to the New York Post article, it makes it sound that these teachers who agree to settlements can be hired again by the DOE. However, the truth is very different. In the settlement, the DOE lawyers clearly state in writing that the teacher has "irrevocably" retired or resigned their position. This triggers a "do not hire" designation for the teacher's file who cannot even work as a substitute teacher for the DOE. Yes, the "U" ratings are changed to "S" but these are internal ratings and are not given out to other school districts and if a school district would simply check with the State they will find that the teacher had 3020-a charges for incompetence and now can not even get a Principal recommendation from the last school he or she taught at, just a neutral DOE letter stating the teacher worked for them for a certain time period. It is very easy for the school district to add 2+2 and come up with the fact that the teacher settled the charges against them by resigning from the DOE.
While, a smattering of these teachers have found positions in Charter and Private schools (I know three), it is only because these schools only asked the State if the person has a "criminal record". However, most schools and their districts usually asked the State if the teacher has been disciplined (3020-a charges) and inquired about the outcome? Do you really think they will hire that teacher?
The New York Post article "dance of the lemons" is deceiving since the statement referred to principals who told a teacher that they would be rated "unsatisfactory" unless they transferred to another school. That is not the case when the DOE offers settlements for teachers accused of incompetence since their are no other schools that would take them and no way to get back on the DOE payroll.
There Is Hope
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