Sunday, November 15, 2015
It May Be A Different Administration But When It Comes To Teacher Discipline, It's The Same Old DOE!
The end of the Bloomberg administration was greeted with universal joy by the teachers and other staff members of the New York City Public Schools. Even principals, except for the Leadership Academy graduates, were happy to get rid of the Bloomberg policies that hurt their schools. However, educator joy has been replaced by a realization that for the schools little has changed. The class sizes have remained unreasonably high, school budgets were frozen at the recession levels of 2012, paperwork has not been reduced and even increased for Special Education teachers, and much of the Bloomberg policymakers are still in charge. When it comes to teacher discipline, the amount of 3020-a hearing have remained essentially unchanged from the last years of the Bloomberg administration.
The DOE's Office of Legal Services will go to great lengths to terminate a teacher by embellishing, perverting, lying, and falsifying innocent actions into serious misconduct. This is typical of this office during the Bloomberg years and unless the teacher was willing to fight the 3020-a charges, many were not and took a settlement to retire, resign, or plead guilty to keep their job and be thrown into the ATR pool, they would be reassigned for a year or more waiting to defend themselves and require the DOE to prove their case. Unfortunately, only 4% are found innocent since the State Arbitrators are appointed to one year terms and either the DOE or UFT can refuse to reappoint the Arbitrator. Therefore, the Arbitrator will usually give a fine to teachers even when the DOE did not prove their case. On the other hand, about 8% of the educators are terminated but when you add the resignations and forced retirements, the number jumps to 55%! Our out of touch leader, Michael Mulgrew, promised a new tone at the DOE, instead we see that Chancellor Carmen Farina, is part of the problem and not the solution as she retained the Bloomberg 300 in their policy making positions. Is it any wonder that the classroom teacher sees little change in the "gotcha mentality" coming from the DOE?
Now the New York Post reports on a 60 year old teacher who was forced to resign under the threat of termination by the DOE. The teacher, a 29 year teacher who was legally blind and walks with a cane was charged under 3020-a with DOE trumped up charges of drinking alcohol and sexual harassment. What did this teacher do? A parent thought she smelled alcohol on the teacher's breath when it turned out that he had a bad breath issue and used Listerine, which is alcohol based (25%). Yet, the DOE didn't buy it. The Office of Legal Services believed the parent and reassigned the teacher to the "rubber room" yes, they still exist. The DOE eventually charged the teacher under section 3020-a with drinking alcohol on school grounds and added sexual harassment charges to boot. What was the sexual harassment? . The teacher was joking with a group of moms and asked them who wants a blind date with me? Even if he wasn't joking, what's wrong with one adult asking another for a date? The teacher retired hoping that his good name will remain undamaged. However, if he tries to get a job with the DOE or DOE provider, he will find he cannot be hired since the DOE will have put a "do not hire" flag on his file.
This is just another of the many questionable cases the DOE's Office of Legal Services brings to intimidate teachers and force them to retire or resign rather then going through long and demoralizing 3020-a hearing where your moral character is made out to be a cross between "Jack the Ripper" and "Typhoid Mary" besides being a danger to the children. It may be a new administration but for teachers in the trenches facing discipline, it's still the same old DOE.