Monday, March 09, 2009

How Much Does It Cost The DOE To File 3020-a Charges Against Tenured Teachers? How About $250,000!

There are between 700 and 1,000 teachers that have been removed from the classrooms and most of them will be charged under State Education Law 3020-a. Because tenured teachers have due process rights the DOE cannot just fire a teacher but must convince an arbitrator that the teacher's alleged wrongdoings warrant termination. Unfortunately, for Tweed they must show real proof and compelling evidence before an arbitrator is convinced that termination is a proper penalty. However, more unlikely, is that the arbitrator finds the charged teacher totally innocent. Therefore, to appease the DOE, the arbitrator will usually find teacher fault that is sufficient to impose a fine or suspension on the teacher.

The real question is how much does the average 3020-a process cost? Based upon some numbers floated around by both the DOE and UFT it appears to average $250,000 for a teacher to complete a 3020-a hearing. This number can be lower or higher depending on how many specifications (charges) Tweed files against a teacher. For example some teacher incompetence cases can take an entire school year or more just to go through the specifications against the teacher. While I cannot confirm the $250,000 value, it does appear reasonable when you work through the numbers. For example lets assume the following is true.

  • Teacher salary $75,000/yr and averages two years out of the classroom.
  • Arbitrator's salary $1,700/Dy and averages 20 days per hearing.
  • NYSUT attorney's salary of $80,000/'yr and averages 4 months
  • DOE's lawyer salary $75,000/yr and averages 4 months
  • Transportation (usually a limo service) & food for DOE witnesses. about $4,000
When added together it comes out to approximately $250,000 from start to finish. This value does not include the cost of replacement teachers for the teachers removed from the classroom and the cost of subpoenas and visits to the school by the DOE. Furthermore, printing and photocopying costs of evidence, including transcripts are ignored. Finally, this does not include the use of DOE paid investigators which costs thousands of dollars in manpower. If these other items are included, the figure could easily reach $300,000 or higher.

In the ongoing severe budget crises the DOE can save much money and bring fairness to the system by hiring an independent mediator to evaluate whether a teacher should be removed from the classroom rather than the existing DOE kangaroo court/investigative process that almost always takes the Principal's side and files 3020-a charges against the hapless teacher and, of course, wastes precious education funds just to file 3020-a charges that usually does not end up in the teacher's termination.


Anonymous said...

I am with you on this but have one correction: DOE would be paying the veteran teacher in any case, the increased expenditure is the cost of the newbie teacher for those two years (more like 80,000.000 and not your 150,000.00). And of course there may be a fine involved to be paid to the DOE.
One cannot presume rationality or a thought about the students on the part of DOE in this endeavor. You or I would never pursue false 3020a charges aginst a competent veteran teacher...for us it would be too darn expensive (among another hundred reasons). DOE, it seems, has unlimited funds for their foolish actions. Internally, they can ustify it as a small price to pay to push a teacher towards the exit...and any fine paid pushes the veteran teacher towards the exit.

LI Educator

Anonymous said...

This is another reason why it is so important that teachers restrain themselves from jumping on settlement offers. Make DOE pay for each day of testimony, respond to motions, issue subpoenas, prepare to cross examine teacher witnesses, etc etc.
Of course this is not legal advice but, considering the reluctance of the arbitrators to fire teachers, I am surprised at the harsh fines exacted against teachers in settlements. Another reason not to settle.

LI Educator

Anonymous said...

Not to obsess on your numbers and I certainly do not mean to minimize but the following might be a more accurate cost analysis of a two-year 3020a for DOE:

80,000 in salary (plus benefits)

10,000 in arbitrator's fees (10 days for DOE's case)

13,000.000 in legal fees (consider this a portion of the DOE lawyer's salary, I get this from the legal costs billed to a district on a recent 3020a here on Long Island and I admit it is a guess. My NYSUT attorney seems to be juggling about five 3020a's along with her other legal work. I don't know the caseload of a DOE lawyer but the prep work for each day of hearing is not as great as you might think. Perhaps one for one. And additional time to write and respond to NYSUT motions, etc.)

Total: 103,000.00 (plus benefits for the newbie replacement)for a two-year (pedagogical incompetence)straight-forward 3020a. Minus a fine if extracted.

Of course, every case is different and some are much more complex than others. And some last longer. Too bad the city no longer has the three-person panel for incompetence that we have on Long Island. Those can easily last three years.

I am the first to admit I may have overlooked some costs so I welcome any corrections.

LI Educator

(PS: I would be interested in knowing if DOE has about 20 3020a lawyers. If they do then each lawyer would be responsible for about 50 of the 1,000 rubber room inmates. I could see a possible juggling of about 10-12 unsettled 3020a cases per year per DOE lawyer. Do the math. And the rubber room numbers are growing. The system is overwhelmed as long as there aren't quick settlements)

Anonymous said...

I believe Chaz's numbers are correct. Many NYC 3020-a hearings run longer than the rest of the State due to the DOE always adding many minor charges i9n the vain hope of terminating the teacher.

I also think you should use the reassigned teacher's salary because they are not contributing to learning and is a waste of money.

Finally, the real cost can be even higher if you take into account all the new lawyers that the DOE hired to staff the "Teacher Performance Unit".

Anonymous said...

I would be willing to contribute to the cost of keeping my principal in the rubber room.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

There such a thing as the "Educational Industrial Complex" in New York City. It very powerful and highly influential!

Mr. Talk said...

Of course, if the DOE can get the teacher to resign by coercion, they replace that teacher with someone half the cost, and they also pocket a good portion of the money the teacher would make for the rest of his life in pension.

I think that's why the city makes the systems as punishing as possible-the long term savings are enormous if they can get the teacher to resign.

Chaz said...

I agree with Mr. Talk. The idea by the DOE is to file some many charges on the teacher that the teacher gives up and resigns or retires. However, if you take it all the way through the DOE's case of lies, half-truths, and embellishments fall apart.