Monday, April 17, 2017

Bad Teacher? Maybe. Bad School? Absolutely!

Over the last couple of months a 25 year veteran teacher was accused of corporal punishment and ended up being arrested and getting a 30-day jail sentence for shoving a 7-year old child that didn't result in any physical injuries to the child and wasn't reported for a month.  While the teacher has had letters of reprimand for previous corporal punishment and verbal abuse, none rose to the level of a 3020-a termination hearing, least not being arrested for.   In 2013, the teacher was accessed previously of  a serious corporal punishment incident.  However, the charge was found to be unsubstantiated and dismissed.  All the rest were minor and simply resulted in a letter of reprimand at worst.

The real story begins with the elementary school itself  PS 194, Countee Cullen in Harlem between 2008 and 2012 there were 200 reported violent incidents and six sex offenses and this is an elementary school!  Moreover, the Principal during that time had a habit of not reporting incidents and coming in late you can read it Here.  You can also  see the YouTube video Here

Things have not improved under the new Principal as the high poverty and 95% Black and Hispanic student body still struggles academically and teachers gave the Principal an 18% trust factor, one of the lowest in the City .  Moreover,  only 24% think the Principal clearly communicates her vision.  Finally, the Math and English scores remain in single digits of 9% and 7% respectively, again,  one of the lowest in the City as the school has been among the list of violent schools. You can see the school's snapshot Here. This is what the teacher said of his school

“PS 194 has been a constant member of the most dangerous schools — it is a school where we have a lot of students with real problems that are not addressed,“ Couey had said.

In fact, the other teachers agree with him, according to the school's snapshot only 7% of the teachers feel the students are safe in the school while the City average is 94%!

 When it comes to the child in question, you can read a slightly more informative take by the New York Post.   Obviously, the child has serious behavioral issues that were not adequately addressed by the school administration.  Like how does a school allow a 7-year old child to run the hallways unattended during class time?  Where did he go without permission and why wasn't he disciplined by an administrator?  Why didn't the teacher have a co-teacher in a classroom with Special Education students as required by law?  If the child was diagnosed with ADHD and autism, as the Daily News article stated, what services, if any,  did the school supply to the child?

The teacher spent his entire 25-year career at the academically struggling and dangerous school and stayed when other teachers left for better schools and more respect and he was rewarded for his loyalty to the school with not only an arrest and a 30 day jail sentence but a 3020-a charge to terminate his employment.  Just because he tried to discipline a misbehaving student because nobody else wanted to bother with the child.

Is he a bad teacher?  Maybe to some people who don't understand what's its like to teach in such a hostile and chaotic environment without administrative support and where a single slip up can cost a teacher their job.   You can make your own decision on that.  However, is PS 194 a bad school?   No question about it.  Absolutely it is.


Anonymous said...

Question: How is it that the other letters to this dudes file are still relevant? I thought the contact states that if the letter to file is over 3 years old and does not result in any discipline, the letter is removed (destroyed) from the teachers file? Seems like this teacher had a few letters to file that did NOT result in any discipline to him but were brought up in his case.

Chaz said...

Remember, if the teacher does not request their removal, the letters stay in the file even if its a decade or longer.

Anonymous said...

When I first read this story I thought it was obviously a hatchet job on the teacher. It also reminded me of Mulgrew's recent visit here in Florida. Mulgrew talked about how violent some 6 and 7 year olds could be and that they couldn't be suspended. He told the story of a seven year old that jumped on a teachers back and scratched up her face, bit her and pulled out her hair. He told us the student wasn't reprimanded or suspended. He said the UFT disagreed with the mayor on this and was trying to bring back suspensions for these types of incidents. As a former high school teacher, I honestly didn't know little kids could be that bad. I'm sorry for this teacher and the UFT should come to his full defense. Harry

Anonymous said...

They are allowed to use letters from the previous 3 year period. This pushing incident happened in Dec. 2015. The stairs incident happened in 2013 and I believe it said it was unsubstantiated. Now who said they were going to use his previous and outdated incidents against him at termination? I don't think that's stated anywhere. Looks to me like they are going to focus on this incident as grounds for termination.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is fake, and he is siding with the anti-culture climate.

Anonymous said...

So, if a teacher has a letter to file removed after 3 years, it can NOT be used used against them in any further disciplinary cases? What if a hearing officer asks a teacher during a 3020a case about former allegations? Does the teacher have to admit to them? (I am sure their lawyer would tell the teacher not to say a single thing about prior allegations that were removed from their file). Somehow, I don't trust that the DOE would actually remove these files and pretend they were never in a teachers file. I have read rumors that all the letters removed from a teachers file are actually kept in some special filing room at the DOE. Thoughts???

Anonymous said...

I have a strict policy: I DO NOT EVER touch a student beyond a high five/fist bump, and only then when the student initiates it. I don't pat them on the back, touch their arm in kindness or hug them, let alone trying to physically reprimand them. I will even let a kid hit me in the face and will do nothing in return other than report it. Why?

The system is rigged against us. We all know it. I need this job for 6 more years. I will not be fired because of some thug. Let them all go to jail in their own due time. I plan on retiring and getting as far away from 'diversity' and 'multi-culturalism' as I can. Until then it's smiles for everyone, passing everyone and doing whatever the admins tell me to do regardless of how ineffectual or inane it is. This is honestly the only job-protection strategy left to us. The days of American order and chutzpah are over.

Chaz said...

Lat's get something straight. Any negative letters in a file can be removed after 3 years if its not used in a 3020-a hearing. However, this assumes the teacher has requested that they be removed. Most teachers don't bother.

On the other hand, the DOE always keeps a copy of these letters at 65 Court Street and even when they can't be used. Nothing stops the DOE lawyer from bringing them up at a 3020-a hearing. Remember, once an arbitrator hears it it can't be unheard.

Anonymous said...

That is my point. If a teacher requests a letter to be removed from the file, the DOE can still bring it up as a fact in a future 3020a hearing. Thus, a letter to file is never really "removed". If a letter to file was truly "removed" then it's existence would never be able to be discussed or used as a fact in a 3020a hearing by a DOE lawyer. In other words, If the letter was "removed" how would a DOE lawyer even know it is there? Seems like a massive sham to me.

Anonymous said...


I only care about me. I'm a yes man.

Let the kids kill each other.

Less is more.

The worst thing you can have in this job is a work ethic

Anonymous said...

Check out pages 36 and 37 (or Viewer pages 48 and 49 of 88) of the April 2007 edition of “Frequently Asked Questions” (a publication of DOE’s Office of Labor Relations):

Record Retention Laws

Do not destroy or discard those documents that are removed from personnel files. Letters that are removed from personnel files will be kept in a central repository and maintained under the control of the New York City Law Department. These letters will be used solely in defense of the Department of Education or the City of New York in litigation or administrative actions and as otherwise required by law, and DOE supervisors will not have access to them. The records will be destroyed 6 years after an individual retires, resigns or terminates.

Q: What do I do with materials removed from teachers’ files?

A: Copies of the file letters should be placed in manila folders with the employee’s last name, first name, file number, district number and school name and number. If there are more than 50 folders at a site, they should be placed in a box which you can order by e-mailing Angie Russo at Each box should have an official archive label on it listing the contents by teacher file number. You can obtain labels from the DFO web site at * The regular vendor for inter-office mail, Deluxe Delivery Services, will pick up all boxes and file packages for delivery to the central repository.

* = This is an outdated link.

The current link is:

Also, see:

Anonymous said...

Great post! I do the same thing. Be safe

Anonymous said...

So, my point is proven. Letters to file are never really "removed". They are all kept in a big room for DOE legal to use whenever they want. What a sham. No wonder so many teachers don't bother removing the letters from their file. These letters just end up in another file.

Chaz said...

Anon 1:41

That's correct

Anonymous said...

I guess the only "advantage" of having letters removed from a school file is that after 3 years principals can't see them anymore. This could be a benefit if a teacher wants to transfer to another school.

Anonymous said...

"The worst thing you can have in this job is a work ethic."

How sad, but in what I am certain about in many classes across this city so true. Chaz's audience appeals to what I think it's safe to say are the majority veteran teachers who have seen plenty of both good and bad in this system. To anyone who might be in a great school with kids who will let the teacher work with them, the above quote is not from some lazy teacher who just doesn't care anymore. This teacher absolutely cared when he arrived in the system - he most likely still does. But this teacher has been literally beat down mentally from students creating a "shit show" when he was prepared to teach, inform and inspire. The planning time this teacher took for his lessons were not for one minute contemplated by some of his students. Little homework was done, no time was taken by the students to study for an exam. The effort given to a required project abysmal, and I'm certain little to no support from the school. I've had a handful of these classes over my 23 year career, and I feel fortunate enough to admit that it was only a "handful".
It absolutely is possible in this system to do everything a teacher can (behavior modification, meeting with parents, phone calls, riot acts, "U" shaped seating, positive reinforcement, expressing belief towards students, giving up lunch breaks to help students, showing passion and love for the subject taught, student led forums, creating interesting lesson plans, heart to hearts, talking to them in a "real" way, etc, etc, etc) and still have classes where one's work ethic means absolutely NOTHING to both the students and the system. It is the most DISGUSTING EMOTIONAL FEELING a teacher can experience.

Highly Effective King Clovis said...


Hit the nail on the head! I so feel that post.

Anonymous said...

A good Principal can run interference for their staff and make the classroom environment less hostile and the school culture more collaborative.  However, in the New York City Schools we have far too many Leadership Academy Principals, with limited classroom experience, who are trained to be the CEO and not instructional leader of their school.  The result, is a school system that has an "us against them" mentality.  Worse, many principals are pushing out good veteran teachers and hiring "newbies", despite their steep learning curve that hurts student academic achievement. Many good veteran teachers are spending the latter days of their careers disrespected as ATRs, while the UFT stays on the sidelines doing nothing. Just a disgrace to see how are they hurting the kids by depriving them of a good experienced teacher.