Saturday, September 05, 2009

For Teachers Who Have Been Targeted By Their Principals - Here Are TheThings Teachers Should Not Do.



As the 2009-10 school year starts on Tuesday, many teachers are already being targeted by the Principal for either incompetence and/or misconduct. The end result is an eventual 3020-a termination process. There are many reasons that Principals want to terminate teachers ranging from ageism, salary, personality, unionism, and retaliation. Granted, 10% of the teachers charged under 3020-a probably deserve the charges. However, the other 90% do not. Unfortunately, teachers are easy targets when it comes to filing charges since teachers' skills are based on their caring & nurturing of the students. However, when it comes to legal issues, teachers are basically clueless on how to fight the charges against them. Therefore, the targeted teachers rely on either overworked NYSUT lawyers who far to often pressure the innocent teacher to plead guilty and pay a hefty fine or suspension or pay large legal fees to have a private lawyer represent them in the 3020-a disciplinary hearing. Consequently, many a targeted teacher ends up taking a deal and returning to school as an ATR without a classroom or building seniority.

What are the things that teacher should not do? Here is my list,

First, if the Principal or any other administrator offers you the "Peer-Intervention- Program" plus, known as PIP+, don't accept it under any circumstances. The latest statistics show that anywhere between 75% and 90% of the teachers fail PIP+. Its little wonder since the DOE pays the PIP+ vendor. Furthermore, the PIP+ educator is required to testify against you in the eventual 3020-a hearing making it easier to terminate you. Better to refuse PIP+ than have an expert teacher testify against you.

Second, never have a meeting with the Principal without the Chapter Leader present. There have been numerous instances where the Principal has called in a targeted teacher and offered the teacher a chance to resign and have the previous annual"U" ratings changed to "S" until the end of the present school year. Since the meeting is not disciplinary in nature, the Chapter Leader is not asked to be present. In some cases the Principal demands an answer immediately and a few teachers are pressured to resign. Under no circumstances should a teacher be threatened into resigning.

Third, if the Special Commissioner Of Investigations (SCI) wants to talk to you, don't you even consider it. Make sure you contact the union and they will arrange for you to be represented by a lawyer who will tell you not to talk to them. These investigators are biased and unfair and they are only out to "get the teacher" not find out the truth. The SCI investigators are notorious for substantiating the most frivolous events as serious misconduct.

Fourth, if it is the Office Of Special Investigations is doing the investigation then the union's position is to talk to them. However, the OSI investigations are also "biased and unfair" and I strongly recommend that the targeted teacher not speak to the investigator since the typical union advocate is worthless and are of little help in your case. To them it is just an extra union paycheck and they are more concerned in keeping good relations with the OSI investigator rather than advocating for the teacher.

Fifth, never respond immediately to a Letter-In-File (LIF) given you. Pen your response after calming down and assume it will be used against you in a disciplinary hearing. A month would be a good time to pen your response to a LIF after you have had time to look at it calmly and talk to people you trust and respect. Never give a full explanation in your response since you will be stuck with that explanation at the 3020-a hearing. Just write your denials of the charges and save the details for your 3020-a disciplinary hearing.

Finally, write up all events, either in a diary or notebook, including all conversations with administrators. They will be very important in your 3020-a hearing since after two years people can't remember many of the specific charges leveled against you but you will be able to have it written down for review and comment.

I am sure there are commenters that have additional ones to add to my list. Let's see them.

22 comments:

NYC Educator said...

I've been advised it's better not to respond to a letter in file--rather, write the response and save it in case you are brought up in charges. Otherwise, this person said, the response would be regarded as a done deal and have no bearing on the proceedings.

I'm not certain whether or not it's good advice, but that's what I was told.

Chaz said...

I have heard that also. However, if you respond to the LIF before you are brought up on charges, it looks better to the arbitrator that you actually objected to the letter.

I know people who did not file a response to the LIF and the arbitrators questioned why they are objecting to the LIF at the hearing.

It would seem to me that posting a response with the 3020-a discipline process in mind would be the preferred action.

Mr. Talk said...

When I was being targeted, I kept a journal as well, which I emailed myself periodically so that it would have a date stamp that could not be contested. In that way, if it ever got to 3020, I would prove that I wasn't making anything up just for the hearing.

Luckily, it never got to a hearing as I found a better school. But I still have the notes and I'll blog them one day, along with the names of the admins, before I retire.

Anonymous said...

Chaz

Your readers may not know that the teacher gets the last word in a Letter in File. In other words, the principal cannot respond in writing to the teachers response to the Letter in File (without the teacher counter responding).

Always respond fully and with a future 3020a in mind to a LIF. Attach anything and everything that shows you are a great teacher etc etc. There is no limit to the size of the response and (without giving away any future 3020a defense) take advantage of that.

Emailing other material to yourself in the form of a journal (a la Mr talk) is also not a bad idea if you suspect you are being steered/pushed towards eventual 3020a.

Have a trusted and very experienced colleague observe several lessons and write them up in glowing terms. Without your principals knowledge. Evidence of pedagogical collaboration (a good thing)and outstanding teaching and this will intrigue an arbitrator. Of course it takes a brave friend.

And of course a very special thumb or flash drive with a very innocuous appearance:

http://www.spy-tronix.com/keychainrecorder.html

Regards

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Prepare yourself mentally and strengthen yourself physically for both investigative offices to come after you with both barrels blazing.

They can an will supeoned(spelling) records such as college transcripts, they can will question neighbors about your character, they can and will look into your phone records, they can and will ask for your lap top and or desk top and finally they can and will come to your door step.

One more thing" Your principal can send you for a psychological evaluation.

These people are not playing around and neither should you!

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that only SCI has those powers as Justice no Just us described.

Chaz said...

Anon 10:43

You are correct. Only SCI has the power to do what Justice wrote about, except the DOE can supeona witnesses for the 3020-a hearing.

Anonymous said...

Here is my advice for all.
Keep all memoranda all letters all summoned to office letters. File everything away. You may choose to do this periodically and keep them in chronological order. Keep a diary and email your reflections to yourself for dates. I have taped all meetings and always try to have the union representative there. Interestingly enough I have had push back regarding that. Its those meetings you must avoid or tape. They want to say something stupid to you then. Document every incidence of abuse against students, staff, and children as evidence of the climate of the school if its hostile. Note down all convos especially those in the hallway or outside of your door. Note down the invasions of your classroom, especialyl if they are dramatic and involve door slamming. The RULE is CYA.

Anonymous said...

A teacher SHOULD NOT believe that s/he will be assisted by the UFT.

Make your UFT grievances or whatever, but simultaneously FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE EEOC—Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Anonymous said...

It really makes no difference what you do because the arbitrators are corrupt.

It is their financial self interest that makes them disposed towards hurting teachers every single time.

There is no such thing as justice and those who are corrupt are never held "accoutable".

To be a teacher is a very dangerous position to be in.

Chaz said...

I don't buy that the arbitrators are corrupt. Granted you usually are found guilty of something. However, since both the DOE and the UFT determines if the arbitrator is to stay on, the UFT has just as much power as the DOE to remove an arbitrator.

I understand that it is tit for tat and arbitrators usually do not want to piss off either side. Therefore, few terminations and even less aquittals.


By the way, the UFT has removed an arbitrator that was too harsh to teachers and in turn the DOE retaliated by removing an arbitrator that was too friendly to the teachers. In this case it was the UFT(NYSUT) that took the lead in getting unfair arbitrators off the board.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 99% of what is here.

If the arbitrators assigns a punishment when there is not a 'preponderance of evidence" against the teacher than that arbitrator is corrupt.

Whether or not the punishment is harsher or greater or less thanor greateer than the punishment sought by DOE is another matter entirely. The punishment, by definition, causes harm. Perhaps the arbitrator can ease his or her conscience by giving lighter punishments when there is an absence of credible evidence but that in no way diminishes his or her corruption.

Just my two cents worth of jesuitical analysis.

Anonymous said...

Here is something that teachers, whether targeted, or not, should do, and that is:

Try to keep the climate in Albany favorable to teachers.

It would be a good idea to research the summaries, text, and status of the pending bills seeking amendments to the Education Law at:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/

This bill summary is interesting:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S06052

Here's the full text of the bill:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S06052&sh=t

Keep attuned to the proposed legislation affecting your jobs!

Write to your State Senators, Assemblymen, and the members of the Seante and Assembly Education Committees and let them know how you feel about the proposed amendments to the Education Law.

Anonymous said...

...the members of the Senate* and Assembly Education Committees...

Fidgety said...

Chaz, this is a terrific post with with so much great information that my head is spinning! First of all, I regret writing a response to LIF because I feel too much information was given to the principal before I knew that I was being brought up on charges. Somehow I feel that this information better prepares the principal for the 3020a by already knowing your defense. Once it is in writing, it is hard to change or improve your defense.
As far as speaking with SCI, the union will require you to speak with them and even escort you into the "Lion's Den". I don't believe that you can refuse a request for a meeting by and with SCI.

Anonymous said...

any comments (advice) with reference to principals sending teacher for psychological evaluations?

Anonymous said...

To anon 6.56 pm:

I believe that you are allowed to pick your own psychiatrist, at least make a request to see someone you are comfortable with, DoE's shrinks suck.

Anonymous said...

Please do not put any faith into EEOC, NYSDHR, NYCCHR and believe that they will do anything for you. They might be different in dealing with private companies that are being complainted in civil rights violations. Why in the world do the directors of these agencies want to hurt the relationship of their potential future employers? They all move around among different agencies.

Chaz said...

Fidgity:

Under no circumstances should you talk to SCI. Even our union recommends that. As for OSI, you have the right not to speak to them and I know a few teachers who didn't.

If I thought OSI investigations were fair, I would agree with the union. However they are not fair and the only thing you are doing is tipping your hand for the DOE.

Susan said...

While I support unions in theory, teachers' unions really are not very effective in dealing with individual teachers in so-called "due process" hearings. It is a myth to think you have the right to "due process" before you are terminated. All they happen to be are kangaroo hearings. I went through this charade out here in Nevada, and I was not allowed witnesses, documents were altered, perjury was committed by district witnesses, a potential witness of mine was bribed with a job working for the very person who targeted me for dismissal, so she couldn't testify on my behalf, and on and on, and all of this criminality was subsidized by the taxpayers. Arbitrators get paid handsomely for their "efforts," and they are not about to rock the boat and rule in favor of the teachers. When one understands the REALITY of "due process hearings" and the fact it is so easy for teachers to be fired in this twisted system we call public education in the United States since unions are no more than subsidiaries of the school districts, then and only then can reform happen.

I haven't read this blog very long, so I don't know if the proprietor has actually gone through these "due process" hearings jokes. I doubt they are any less corrupt than they are in Nevada and many other states.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

By the way, the person who I contend was bribed with a district job was the union's EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR and had represented me in my first two hearings. "Coincidentally" she ended up working for human resources, the department whose head decided to throw me out in order to cheat me out of full retirement benefits by using trumped up charges. She took the job a little over a month before my "due process" arbitration. I ain't buying it was "coincidental."