Wednesday, June 01, 2016
It's DOE 3020-a Charges Season.
Late May and Early June are known as the best months of the year as the weather warms and teachers see the goal line to the end of the school year and hopefully enjoy the summer months. Unfortunately, this time period is also marked by the DOE's issuance of 3020-a termination charges to far too many teachers due to incompetence, time and attendance, and minor misconduct. In, the last couple of years has seen a rise in teachers getting 3020-a charges due to field supervisor "flyby observations" to rotating ATRs, appointed teachers receiving two consecutive "ineffective" ratings and Principal directed minor misconduct such as insubordination, lateness, and even buying and charging for books!
The question is who decides on 3020-a charges against a teacher? The Principal? The Superintendent? Chancellor Carmen Farina? The answer is the DOE's Office of Legal Services. This Office of lawyers and support staff exploded during the Bloomberg years going from a dozen or so lawyers to 200. Many of them filing and prosecuting the charges against the teacher in the 3020-a termination process. While the other actors can recommend termination, its solely up to the DOE's Office of Legal Services to actually approve the filing of 3020-a termination charges.
The Office of Legal Services is split into two parts The Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) that prosecutes alleged misconduct against teachers and the Teacher Performance Unit (TPU) that goes after teacher incompetence. Both groups ask for teacher termination and few cases are settled under the new approved 3020-a process jointly agreed to be the DOE and our disconnected union leadership. The more favorable rules for the DOE lawyers has resulted in teachers no longer able to call in character witnesses unless they were involved in the charges and the union quietly agreeing to allow field supervisor observations and recommendations to be used as evidence against the teacher in the 3020-a process.
At one time the Office of Legal Services were much more discriminating about the cases they prosecuted and settled many cases before going into the 3020-a hearing or wanted more evidence from the Principal before wasting time and money on these cases. However, under Bloomberg and Klein that started to change as Principals clamoring to get rid of their veteran or trouble making teachers by contacting the Office of Legal Services on frivolous charges in the hopes that they get permission to remove the teacher and their high salary. Principals are dumping teachers into the ATR pool by filing a Technical Assistance Committee (TAC) memo and get rid of the teacher once and for all from the school. More often then not the Office of Legal Services complied and had the teacher removed.
Under Chancellor Carmen Farina nothing has changed, the Office of Legal Services has not shrunk and the 3020-a process against teachers has become more difficult to survive termination, previously it was a 25% termination rate, however, the latest numbers are higher (55% left the DOE after their hearing) and that's before the new, more stringent rules in the 3020-a process that favors the DOE were enacted this February.
While administrators can recommend 3020-a charges its only the Office of Legal Services who can actually file such charges and they are happy to do it as they attempt to take a teacher's livelihood away.