Saturday, July 05, 2008
UFT Negotiates A Deal With The DOE & The Teachers Are Screwed Yet Again
Just days after the school year ended the UFT negotiated away more due process rights of the very teachers the union is supposed to represent. Despite repeated protests by "rubber room" teachers that the UFT should not add arbitrators to speed up the process and demand a truly independent investigation system for determining whether a teacher needs to be removed. Randi ignored her own members and liaisons and has teamed-up with the DOE to speed up, not improve or reform, the teacher disciplinary process. Of course the UFT championed this agreement as a triumph for the teachers in their press release. However, the UFT spin machine doesn't tell the truth. A more accurate analysis of this agreement can be found on the ICE-UFT blog. Unfortunately, even the ICE-UFT blog didn't get it completely right. Let's see how the agreement will really affect the disciplinary process.
First, three out of four (75%) teachers reassigned to the "rubber room" DO NOT WANT THEIR CASES SPEEDILY RESOLVED! The longer it takes to get a 3020-a hearing, the harder it is for the DOE to prove their case against the teacher. Memories get fuzzy, stories change, and witnesses disappear. In many cases, an already weak case becomes that much weaker as the alleged evidence turns out to be hearsay or non-existent. Randi knows that it was in the accussed teacher's best interest to allow their case to take years to be heard. Why did she agree to a speedier hearing without real reform in the investigative process is another example of her giving in to Kleinberg at the expense of the teachers she is supposed to protect.
Second, the UFT failed to reform the disciplinary process There is no independent investigative process put into place despite repeated teacher complaints about unfair and biased investigations. Notice there is no mention of the investigations conducted by the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) which has up to a year to write their report? The reason is that there is an unwritten agreement between Tweed and SCI that no settlements can be offered by the DOE lawyers no matter how frivolous the case is once SCI substantiated the alleged incident. The UFT/DOE agreement does not change this unholy agreement that causes long delays in the hearing process.
Third, the principal no longer needs to show up at the 3020-a hearing. That means the teacher no longer has the right to face his/her accuser. The principal can just phone it in from his office and keep notes around his desk to remind him of what he needs to say. Another erosion of teacher due process rights.
Finally, the DOE only agreed to review a Principal's decision to remove a teacher and unless you believe in the tooth fairy. If so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Very few of the Principal's decisions will be reversed by Tweed, given their anti-teacher bias. Further "general grounds" for removal is not defined and if the teacher is subject to an SCI investigation, which many are, the above agreement does not apply.
The UFT proclaimed that if an administrator makes a false allegation against a teacher they will be subject to disciplinary action. Yeah right! However, what about the administrator who takes an innocent action and perverts, embellishes, or twists it into misconduct. Does that fall under false accusations? Of course not.
The UFT/DOE agreement also reaffirms that a 3020-a pre-hearing be held and that teachers removed from their schools end up in their borough rubber room whenever possible. Both of these issues are already required and should not have been necessary in this agreement.
I agree with Jeff Kaufman of ICE that the UFT/DOE agreement is unenforceable by the UFT and is not in the best interests of the teachers. As for Randi Weingarten's statement that "justice delayed is justice denied" rings hollow as she agreed to further erode teacher due process rights.