Monday, September 11, 2017
When Will The Union Sue The DOE On Their Scarlet Letter?
Back when Dennis Walcott became Chancellor, he decided that all teachers who had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation, would have a discipline flag attached to their file. This flag alerted principals not to hire these teachers. It didn't matter that many of these teachers chose to go through their 3020-a hearings and the independent State arbitrator found them innocent of the DOE charges that were based upon the OSI or SCI report. For example if OSI substantiated a corporal punishment charge and the arbitrator found no corporal punishment or if SCI substantiated sexual misconduct,but the arbitrator finds no sexual misconduct. Why does the DOE act as if the teacher is still guilty of the charges that were dismissed by the arbitrator?
Both corporal punishment and sexual misconduct are termination offenses and arbitrators are automatically required to terminate the teacher. However, charging a teacher with these serious offenses is not the same as be guilty of the charges. The arbitrator must hear all the relevant evidence and any hearsay must be supported. Teachers who are accused of these serious charges and are tenured can ask for an independent arbitrator to hear all the relevant evidence and make their decision based upon the preponderance of the relevant evidence.
Here are two examples of the DOE charging teachers with serious charges only to find the charges didn't stick once the evidence was presented and scrutinized..
Example 1: A Social Studies teacher was accused of slamming his door on the hand of a student that broke the window in the door. The student had a bloody hand and went to the school nurse. The Principal reported it and OSI interviewed the student and, as it turned out a couple of his friends, as well as the school nurse. The teacher was charged with corporal punishment and the case went to the arbitrator. In the 3020-a hearing it came out that some other students in the teacher's class also saw the incident and told the teacher's attorney that the teacher didn't slam the door on the student's hand but after the heated exchange between the teacher and the student, as the teacher closed the door, the student took his fist and slammed the door window, which caused the bloody hand. Interestingly, there was a hallway camera which showed a blurry picture of the incident but tended to support what the teacher had claimed. The arbitrator dismissed the corporal punishment charge but gave the teacher a small fine for not deescalating the altercation. Yet the teacher has a flag on his file for an accusation that wasn't true.
Example 2: A Science teacher was accessed of sexual misconduct by allegedly propositioning a student by showing too much interest in getting her to pass the class, It turned out that the student was having personal problems and that day was a :bad day" Therefore, the student told the Principal that the teacher propositioned her, SCI spoke to the student and also found from other students that the teacher was paying her more attention then most of the students. The result was that SCI substantiated the charge. During the 3020-a hearing the student reluctantly came in and admitted that the teacher did not proposition her but didn't like the intrusive manner of the teacher. That teacher was found innocent of the sexual misconduct charge but also received a small fine for making the student uncomfortable. This teacher also has a flag on their file.
A pro-active union would never allow the administration to continue to punish teachers for charges that they were found innocent of Yet our disconnected union leadership not only failed to file a lawsuit against the DOE's unfair policy that assumes teachers are guilty, even when the arbitrator found otherwise. but agreed to contract language that made hundreds of teachers ineligible to fill vacancies permanently. The union leadership should be ashamed of themselves for sacrificing their members to curry favor with Tweed. It's unconscionable that our union allows innocent teachers to be punished year after year with the Scarlet Letter.