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Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Why Every 3020-a Arbitrator Award Is Different. - Part V
One of the truisms in the New York City version of the 3020-a hearing process is that "every case is different". To support that statement I present three cases that have the same or similar allegations with vastly different Arbitrator "awards" (penalties).
Case #1: Three high school teachers were reported to have been drinking hard liquor in the classroom before open school night started. All three teachers were sent through the 3020-a hearing process and received vastly different "awards". The alleged ringleader of the group was the first one to finish his 3020-a hearing and received a $5,000 fine and a course on appropriate behavior. His girlfriend was next and received a much more stringent fine of $25,000. The last teacher was handed to most severe "award" with a six month suspension without salary and benefits as well as being called on to take alcohol testing at a moment's notice.
All three teachers had no previous discipline problems and were well liked by the school Administration' Why the vastly disparate "awards"? The answer is the dynamics of the 3020-a hearing itself. All three teachers had different attorneys and different arbitrators. Further, its how each teacher handled the highly stressful 3020-a hearing. Finally, the teacher's testimony will influence an Arbitrator's "award". Therefore, the combination of many factors caused the different and disparate "awards".
Example #2: Two female elementary school teachers were accused of "corporal punishment" at two different schools. They allegedly took a misbehaving special education student and according to the room paraprofessional either kicked, pushed, or shoved the student. The cases were similar in many ways. Each student was eventually placed in a District 75 school because of their behavioral disabilities, the teacher and paraprofessional had issues with each other, and most importantly, the Principal did not like the teacher.
One teacher ended up with a "letter-to-the-file" while the other teacher was terminated. Why the difference?
In the non-terminated teacher's case, the school physiologist testified on behalf of the teacher about the student's behavioral issues while the terminated teacher had no witnesses. Otherwise, there is no differences. Therefore, it goes back to the dynamics of the hearing and the teacher's testimony.
Example 3: Two male high school teachers were accused of "sexual misconduct" with female students. In one case the teacher was spotted with a schoolgirl in his parked car near the school and it was reported to SCI who substantiated that the girl was in the teacher's car but according to the girl "nothing was going on".. The Other teacher had an inappropriate testing and phone relationship with a female student and were seen together often alone in his classroom. SCI substaintiated the allegations and both teachers went through the 3020-a process.
The teacher who had the female student in his parked car near the school was terminated for "sexual misconduct" which is automatic by the Arbitrator. While the teacher with the numerous phone and text messages was given a $7,500 fine. Go figure. I will not pretend to understand these two widely disparate "awards" except to say its about the dynamics of the 3020-a hearings and the creditability of the teacher. .
Consequently, the best advice I can give you is to tell the truth, express sorrow, even if you believe you didn't do anything wrong, and be confident but not arrogant in your testimony and hope for the best.No wonder the teacher is confused because there is no rubric that is used to determine the Arbitrator's "award".
The four other parts of the New York City 3020-a process can be found Here, Here, Here, and Here.