Friday, April 06, 2012

My Story On What Really Happened And Why The Independent Arbitrator Gave Me Only A $2,000 Fine In The 3020-a Hearing.

I woke up and went out to get the paper and found to my dismay that I was one of only sixteen teachers that SCI recommended for termination due to alleged "sexual misconduct" but were not terminated. The reason why we were not terminated by the "Independent Arbitrators" was real simple, that "we were not guilty of any sexual misconduct" that is why! While I do not know the full story of the other fifteen teachers I do know my own and here is my story.

It all started in October of 2006 when I had a failing student who was getting low grades on her tests, never participated or answered questions, and sat in the back of the classroom. I spoke to her a few times about moving her seat to the middle of the class and finally she reluctantly agreed to move forward. She still did not participate or answer questions but she seemed to be understanding the topic I was teaching, based on her homework. I still did not believe she was capable of passing the test but I encouraged her to keep trying, little did I know that she resented me for trying to encourage her academically. Later in the month I gave my classes a test and saw that she was visibly shaking, I came over to her and pattered her on her clothed shoulder and told her "calm down, it is only a test", she did calm down and a couple of days later I marked the test and to my pleasant surprise the student had actually passed the test! I was so happy for the student.

The next school day I gave back the test and when I gave the test back to the student, I was really proud of her accomplishment and I said out loud to her in a class of thirty students the following "I"m so proud of you passing the test I could just kiss you, of course I wouldn't do that because I would get in trouble" and laughed thinking she would take it as a compliment not anything else. To me it was just an expression of praise, nothing else. Little did I know that I was wrong and that she hated what I said and eventually decided to complain to her Guidance Counselor. The Guidance Counselor realized there was nothing to my expression of praise but reluctantly reported it to the Principal. Note, the Guidance Counselor did not appear for the DOE in my 3020-a hearing, I wonder why?

The Principal, who was forced to leave the DOE because of his poor management skills, decided that because I used the word "kiss" that it was a sexual issue and called SCI to report the alleged "sexual misconduct". The next week SCI showed up at my school and started to interview students about the incident, at this point SCI did not order my removal because there was some question about it being sexual in nature. However, the Principal, who I had issues with over the years, insisted it was and pushed SCI to do a complete investigation of me and finally convinced them that I should be removed a week later.

The SCI investigation of me lasted eight months as the SCI investigators came back to my school eight times as the Principal would line up carefully selected students (not random) who he heard might say bad things about me. The result was an SCI report that had a "preponderance of garbage" including third & fourth person hearsay statements, gossip, outright lies, and out of context alleged actions that allowed them the cover to substantiate the bogus sexual misconduct charges against me. The investigation would have continued into the next school year but the SCI investigators soon realized that despite the Principal's urging, there was really nothing but hearsay and typical high school gossip and closed the case. However, the damage was done.

The DOE Office Of Legal Services filed 3020-a charges against me in June of 2007 and charged me with "inappropriate behavior" with female students but did not charge me with "sexual misconduct". However, the DOE decided to try to get me on "major verbal abuse of a sexual nature" charges anyway by filling for a "probable cause hearing" in January 2008. For the DOE the "probable cause hearing" is usually a "slam dunk" since a very low level of evidence is needed. 95% of the teachers subject to a "probable cause hearing" are suspended for up to three months without pay and benefits. How little evidence is needed? It only takes the word of the SCI investigator for the "probable cause" Arbitrator to rule in favor for the DOE. However, in my case I won the "probable cause hearing" since the SCI investigator was caught in a lie by the Arbitrator when he tried to ignore his own report and changed what I said to the student. He told the Arbitrator that I said the following "I really want to kiss you but I I would get in trouble". Deliberately left out of the changed statement was the qualifier "I'm so proud of you" that was in his report. Furthermore. I never said "I really want to kiss you". The Arbitrator caught it and asked the SCI Investigator did the teacher say that? The SCI Investigator reluctantly admitted that it is what the girl told him and it was in his report. The Arbitrator said that this was not "major verbal abuse of a sexual nature" and he even questioned if the alleged misconduct rose to the level of a 3020-a.

After I won my "probable cause hearing". I was left in the reassignment center for another two and a half years before I finally started my 3020-a hearing in June of 2010. In the 3020-a hearing I was charged by the DOE of violating Chancellor's Regulations of Verbal Abuse A-421 and Harassment A-830. The problem the DOE had was readily obvious, the DOE's case rested on many hearsay and unfounded statements by students who refused to show up even when they were subpoenaed by the DOE. In fact, one of them ended up to be my witness! The only witnesses the DOE had was the SCI Investigator and the student. It turned out the student had made many conflicting statements to different people who interviewed her and when cross-examined at the hearing, kept changing her story and admitted that the DOE claimed statement of "If it's not going to get me in trouble I would kiss you" was incorrect. The SCI Investigator was calm but unconvincing since he was already caught in a lie during the "probable cause hearing" which was put into evidence.

The DOE put on two witnesses while I had four, including myself. I did tell the Arbitrator that I realized what I said was clumsy and I would not use the word "kiss" again in dealing with students since it only takes one student to misinterpret the meaning. However, for the DOE to charge me with something sexual is outrageous and not right. The Arbitrator agreed and found me "innocent of any sexual misconduct" and only found that I embarrassed the girl with my statement in front of the class and gave me a $2,000 fine.

In conclusion, my four and a half year nightmare consisted of a clumsy statement in a room full of students to a girl that didn't like me and a Principal that decided that using the word "kiss" is sexual, no matter how it was used and a SCI Investigator who believed the Principal and made sure the most innocent statements by the alphabet of selected students interviewed were twisted, embellished, and perverted into a sleazy/sexual verbal abuse that failed to materialized under scrutiny.

The DOE should be ashamed of themselves, for trashing and trying to humiliate the 16 teachers who Independent Arbitrators found "no sexual misconduct" In my case, they had a weak and bogus case to begin with and lost. If they really think the Independent Arbitrator was wrong, why didn't they appeal it to the courts? Instead they encourage the news media to call us "pervy teachers" as if the biased SCI investigation process is really fair while the Independent Arbitrators who see all the evidence are not. Thank god for "due process" and the Independent Arbitrator who makes the DOE actually show relevant evidence to prove their accusations.

My Name? Eric Chasanoff and proud to be a teacher.


Ms. Tsouris said...

I saw that story yesterday morning and was horrified that they should mention not only your name but the names of previously exonerated teachers. They AND the New York Times are on a witch hunt. Why you? There are so many others who didn't make the newspaper. Isn't this libel?

Invictus said...

To be honest, I would never have said to anyone, "I would kiss you" because of the times we live in. It is quite pathetic that one cannot be more praising of stud ent's work because an adult praise and a teenager/child's sense of praise is truly different.

As far as the daring of the newspapers to continuously recycle old news, especially about teachers that were formerly investigated and were found not guilty of the charges, they are surely looking for a libel suit. Perhaps they will attempt to defend themselves in public saying that they were doing a "freedom of expression move" but I do not see them publishing lists of actually convicted child/sexual molesters over and over again...that is because they have nothing to gain but in the case of demonizing teachers, they must have several special interests and bags of gold behind the reason to knock teachers at every single turn.

Going back to this, I loved how this music teacher argued, not truly eloquently, that there is a double standard of conduct between employees and managers at the DoE. So, take that DoE and the entire CIty Hall leadership, regardless of how much money and connections you have, the truth cannot be bought nor manipulated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling the bloggers your unfortunate situation where the process of 3020a is being used against those of innocense.

I believe those educators who are irrefutably sexual deviants should be terminated through the 3020a, but everyone is still entitled to due provess.

I have been called to OSI because there's an allegation of professional misconduct. I don't even know what it is and I can only imagine that the principal, who wants me out of the school because I am super pro-union, have set me up. It is very distressful to know that an allegation of that nature have been filed against me especially since people have know me to be a goody-two-shoe. But no matter how impeccable one's career is and one's integrity is known by everyone, the DoE want to crucify as many educators as possible.

I plan to hold my head up high and wait patiently to hear the false allegations that have been brought against me and I hope the union rep will support me in exposing the principal as a vindicative, vicious fraud.

28 year retired NYC teacher said...

I know of others who suffered exactly the same kind of evil treatment based on the same kind of unbelievable charges.
Based on the facts, how is it possible that an arbitrator could find that you did anything wrong and fine you? No fair minded person will agree.
And after the charges essentially collapse, what is left are the ridiculous statements of this evil little man, Michael Bloomberg and the other media asses braying about rampant misconduct and incompetent teachers.
Why can't you get your story out, and why can't the others get their stories out?
That's the part I can't understand.

Anonymous said...

When I read the Times story, my first thought was I must be on the NYPost's website. And then the follow up story today.

While some of the charges were beyond what's appropriate, like texting your students and asking for dates, what you did is what many of us do. We get so excited, we forget to measure our words.

I feel sorry for teachers today knowing if they are not "popular", their careers can easily be destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, have you ever heard of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee?

Have you ever heard of Presiding Justice Luis A. Gonzalez of the NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department?

Perhaps the Committee and the Presiding Justice would be interested in hearing your story.

Paul Hogan said...

Thanks for posting your story. Any possibility of pursuing a malicious prosecution case v. the principal or the city?

Anonymous said...

Mr Chasanoff how are you? Its been a long time... Sorry to hear what's going on in your life, i heard the story but thought everything was over anyway God is good and keep your head up. By the way How's your daughter? From your number 1 soccer player Robertha T.