Friday, November 18, 2016

What You Need To Do When Served With 3020-a Charges?

Unfortunately,  I have been contacted by and hearing from other teachers that quite a few teachers are being served 3020-a charges by the DOE for incompetence and minor alleged misconduct.  Almost all of them are senior teachers with 15 years or more experience and over 50 years of age.  By contrast, few teachers are being served 3020-a charges if they are under 35 years of age and less than 10 years of experience.  While I can claim there is discrimination against senior teachers, the DOE will not release the age and experience breakdown of teachers served their 3020-a papers, despite the news media and the Solidarity caucus trying to FOIL the DOE for the information. If the UFT knows the breakdown, and they should, they are not divulging the information. Therefore, without any firm data, this is just anecdotal evidence.  However, just be aware if you are a senior teacher you have a potential target on your back.  Check my posts Here and Here.

The rest of this post will discuss what a teacher should do when he or she receives their 3020-a charges.  

First, and foremost when the DOE decides to serve a teacher with 3020-a charges, they only want to terminate the teacher and for the most part, the only deals the DOE will make is for the teacher to irrevocably retire or resign by the end of the semester and then a scarlet letter will be attached to your file as a "do not hire" flag will be placed for any administrator to see if the teacher applies for another DOE position in the future.  Under Mayor Bloomberg and his Chancellors the DOE's 3020-a process were used by principals to have troublesome teachers removed from the school and budget on the most minor infraction or allegation of misconduct or incompetence. Since arbitrators found only 4% of the teachers completely innocent, even a simple letter-to-file-file given by an arbitrator was enough to dump the teacher into the ATR pool and out of the hair of the Principal.  However, the Office of Legal Services was overwhelmed by the almost 800 teachers in the reassignment center that they started to make deals with teachers that were willing to plead guilty to at least one of the stipulations of the 3020-a charges and ended up in the ATR pool upon their return to service.

Fast forward to the De Blasio administration with Chancellor Carmen Farina in charge and the Office of Legal Services was beefed up with more lawyers and while the number of reassigned teachers have dropped since the peak, it still is close to 400, about the average during the Bloomberg years. The only thing that changed is that the DOE does not make deals and demands termination, even for the most minor of alleged offenses.  So much for Micheal Mulgrew's statement "that there's a new tone at the DOE".

Second, when a teacher is served with his or her 3020-a charges, the teacher should immediately contact the Chapter Leader who will instruct you to go to the UFT office in your Borough tso they can write an appeal to the DOE charges and demand a hearing in front of an independent arbitrator.  Failure to do this could result in the DOE terminating you at the next PEP meeting.  The appeal must be given to the DOE within 10 days of the teacher receiving the 3020-a charges.

Third, the teacher will be assigned a NYSUT lawyer, free of charge, to represent the teacher at his or her 3020-a hearing.  If you and your NYSUT attorney don't see "eye to eye", the teacher can always hire a private lawyer to represent them.

Fourth, the hearing will usually start 3 to 6 months after receiving the 3020-a charges, it could be longer, depending on the arbitrator's caseload.  The 3020-a hearing will last no more than a month and the arbitrator will usually render a decision 30 to 60 days after the end of the hearing.  From start to finish it's usually less than 9 months between being served 3020-a charges and the arbitrator's decision.

Fifth, despite the often quoted myth that the arbitrators "split the baby", the truth is that if the arbitrator finds the teacher guilty of serious misconduct and/or real incompetence, especially under the new teacher evaluation system, the teacher will be terminated.  The "split the baby" only deals with more minor misconduct or questionable incompetence charges that don't warrant termination..

Finally, don't be afraid to go through your 3020-a hearing.  Let the DOE prove their charges since it takes 30 to 60 days for the arbitrator to send a decision, you can retire one day after the hearing and it becomes effective the next school day.  That way you don't lose the lump sum and retro payments (up to $50,000 owed to you).  However, if you wait for the decision and your terminated, you get no lump sum payments and retro adjustments to your pension.


Anonymous said...

A few questions: What are some examples of the "minor charges" the DOE has been bringing up for 3020A cases? Are not principals required to try and help a teacher having difficulties in the classroom resolve the problems before bringing up 3020A charges? In other words, wouldn't an arbitrator like to see proof that a principal tried to help a teacher before bringing them up on charges? Lastly, are most teachers brought up on charges out of the blue or is it usually after a pattern of letters to file, bad evaluations, etc?

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was in the main office and the AP and payroll secretary were discussing how to get teachers in trouble. They were talking about teachers who take days off. (At my school, even one sick day can get you a target on your back, no joke.) The cavalier way they were talking about the "legal department" and how they had to "check with lawyers." was actually unnerving to me, and I am currently not on anyone's "bad list."

This tells you how much abuse has been going on in my school that a "good" teacher is scared of the witch hunt too! I saw a good math teacher get fired last year (was untenured) for no reason, and his data showed growth each year in regents scores. The admins apparently wanted to 'look tough' to the superintendent. Two years ago I saw a previous principal fire three untenured people, again for absolutely no reason. Her AP was also a monster who lied to our faces and put letters to file for trivial things.

For those of us who have less than eight years to go, is there any hope of us making at all?

Anonymous said...

How can the DOE evade their legal responsibility to respond to the FOIA equestrian?
What can be done to force the DOE to respond? ... A PERB complaint?

Anonymous said...

That sucks that a UFT secretary is siding with an administrator against her own UFT brothers/sisters. Call the bitch out on here.

Anonymous said...

The UFT is to blamed for many of these situations. They agreed to policies that encourages age discrimination.

Anonymous said...

RE: Taking days off. I see so many teachers taking days off and putting pictures up on Facebook in locations far away from their home. DOE Legal loves this kind of stupid behavior. A teacher got fired a few years ago when she took a week off for being "sick" but was actually on a cruise and she was stupid enough to post up pictures on Facebook. If you are taking a day off, DO NOT post anything on social media!

Anonymous said...

Dwarka from Bryan HS has started 20 3020As in the last 15 months!


All senior teachers that stood up to her.

Hey Unity caucus....


Anonymous said...

Its all a matter of time people this insanity will end and no wonder it has crumbled with people like we have posting story after story the people have self destructed resulting in trump completely having to destroy the public schools. The reason is written in the posts people...when you have colleagues, brothers and sisters trying to figure out how to get people in "trouble' instead of trying to just do their job you have a system that is set up for self destruction. The people trying to figure out these policies will shortly be figuring out how to get to the unemployment line or otherwise go work for eva moskowitch for a buck tree eighty.

Anonymous said...

Kwait at John Bowne sexual misconduct again but remains! That's Sick!

Anonymous said...

DeVos will off you a choice between a charter school and a private school.

Abigail Shure

Anonymous said...

They like these types of principals that go after teachers with integrity.

Dale Walden said...

If I signed a settlement agreement with my school district to retire at the end of the year instead of going through a 3020a hearing is there any way now after the fact that I can void the agreement and ask for a 3020a hearing. In hindsight I should not have signed that agreement.
Thank you
D Walden

Dale Walden said...

I signed a settlement agreement instead of a 3020a hearing. I make a mistake can I undo it and request a 3020a hearing

Dale Walden said...

After my settlement agreement is over on June 30, 2017 can I speak freely about the district and talk to a newspaper about the district?