Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Principal & The SCI Investigation - My Story.

Time and again I have heard naive people ask me why would an SCI Investigator not want to do a fair and independent investigation? The answer is that once SCI takes a case, they have a presumption that the smoke of the accusation means that there must be a fire. In other words if an accusation is made, then it is up to the investigator to substantiate the accusation by any means possible. This article will try to go through my SCI investigative process and the reason the Arbitrator dismissed & discredited the SCI report in my 3020-a hearing.

The Principal:

The most important person in an SCI investigation is the Principal. In my three year experience as a liaison of the Queens Teacher Reassignment Center (TRC) I had heard many stories from teachers. The ones who had SCI investigations for alleged sexual issues where usually sent back to their school if their Principal supported the teacher. By contrast, principals who disliked their teachers would use the SCI investigation process to have 3020-a charges filed against the teacher for alleged sexual misconduct even when there was little or no evidence of such. Of course if a teacher really had a sexual relationship or sexually abused a student then no Principal could save that teacher and nor should they.

My Ex-Principal:

It was no secret in my school that the Principal and me did not see "eye to eye" on many issues. I was on the School Leadership Team (SLT) for the last four years and usually voted with the students and parents and against the Principal who was running the school into the ground. I always believed that my Principal's policy of "Principal first, children last" was destroying the school and his poor decision-making skills were hurting the students. In fact, at the end of the school year that I was reassigned. the DOE finally removed the Principal "for cause" but it was too late for me.

The Principal was the same Principal who gave me my 2002 reprimand which the Arbitrator threw out as "unfair and inaccurate" in 2004. The relationship between my Principal and I deteriorated further in the mid 2000's to the point that, with my Chapter Leader's urging, I filled a PERB complaint against my Principal and NYSUT agreed to supply me with a lawyer after carefully reviewing my Principal's actions against me. In front of the PERB mediator, the City lawyers threatened to have me reassigned during the PERB hearings which could take a year or more to conclude. With that threat, it was agreed that the Principal will not target me or practice disparate treatment if I was to drop the PERB charge. Since I didn't want to be reassigned, I reluctantly accepted the deal.

The Principal simply waited until the 2006-07 school year when a student complained to the Guidance Counselor and got the ball rolling by calling SCI. He told SCI some highly inaccurate information to ensure that they would take the case. First, he told SCI that I had inappropriately touched and threatened to kiss a student. He also told them that I was reprimanded previously of such actions which he knew was false. He personally selected students for the DOE to talk to rather than a random selection in the hopes that some of these students will talk trash about me and influence the SCI investigation. Finally, the DOE used a deliberately inaccurate statement I allegedly made and the Daily News used in their article came from the Principal and not the student. "If it won't get me in trouble, I would kiss you".

The SCI Investigator:

The SCI investigator was an ex-police detective and I did not cooperate with him as instructed by my union. When a UFT lawyer looked at the accusations against me she laughed and said are they serious? Who did you piss off? She told me not to worry, their case against me is unreal and frivolous. The SCI investigator actually turned out to be a fairly decent person and strongly hinted to me on his occasional visits to the TRC that the case against me was very weak and he had told the Principal that it might be best to dump a letter into my file then pursue the case due to lack of evidence. Obviously, the Principal thought otherwise since he was able to get rid of me and my salary off the school's payroll. Of course it did not stop the SCI investigator from substantiating the frivolous charges and lying in my "probable cause hearing" by using the DOE's/Principal's deliberately inaccurate statement instead of the actual statement recalled by the student in his report. He also said that the word "kiss" is sexual no matter how one uses it when he realized that he was caught in a lie by the "probable cause Arbitrator".

I ran into the SCI Investigator after my winning the "probable cause hearing" a couple of more times and he told me how shocked he was that they dumped a "probable cause hearing" on me. He also said to me that If he could do the investigation over, he would have come out with a different conclusion. While he didn't say it upfront, he blamed the Principal for the damage done to me. He even told a colleague in the TRC that the charges against me was "bullshit". In his 3020-a testimony the SCI investigator did his job calmly, and coolly, but did not hurt me, especially when we brought up "the statement" and he admitted I used the qualifier of "I'm so proud of you" in the statement.

The Student:

The student made as many as five conflicting statements, to different people who interviewed her, depending on who she talked to and these conflicting statements were presented as evidence that she was either lying or being manipulated. In her testimony at the 3020-a hearing she would change her testimony to suit what she thought they wanted to hear, including my NYSUT lawyer! It was very obvious to all she didn't want to be there and her testimony was not credible. I even felt sorry for her after her emotional and ever-changing answers to questions by both sides.

The bottom line is that while the Daily News can call me a "pervy teacher" the Arbitrator, when confronted with the evidence, or in the DOE's case, lack of evidence of any "sexual misconduct" could only give me a fine for making a comment that embarrassed the student in front of a class of thirty. Maybe the Daily News need to investigate the connection between principals and SCI that can and do taint the investigation process.

You can read my story Here and Here.


Anonymous said...

There are a lot more the power and process can do to an individual teacher regardless of what he or she does or does not do, just have to move on with our lives with the understanding that fairness and justice are mostly a process than anything else and the endgames are the same.

OTE admin said...

A lot of us can't "move on with our lives" when our careers are destroyed. It isn't easy being over 50 and being forcibly retired long before being able to afford it. It's easy to say to "move on" if you have a working spouse or substantial savings. It's quite another to not be able to work again because of administrator malfeasance.

28 year retired NYC teacher said...

This dirt bag reporter, Ben Chapman of that smelly rag the Daily News, wants teachers to contact him with their concerns. Does anybody believe that if teachers sent him the documentation on their cases, so many of which show the same kind of witch hunting lunacy and nonsense, that his editors would allow him to get them into print?

Anonymous said...

I just read the comments from the reporter and am astounded that any teacher would respond to any interview. Those that do are often misquoted or the quote is taken out of context. It was just bad journalism from all 3 major newspapers.

A few months back a principal was sexually harassing female teachers and received hardly a slap on the wrist. Total abuse of power is swept away when it's a DoE lackey.

When Queen for a Day Chancellor Black uttered ridiculous statements, the mayor made light of it. It's okay for his people to "misspeak" and merely say "better judgment should have been used", but a teacher gets crucified. This from a man who once told one of his female employees to get an abortion.

Your case was an abuse of power by your principal and the DoE.

Over Easter, I told my family what had happened to you. They are not teachers but were shocked that your comment to the student could be taken to mean something it did not. Unfortunately in this day of making sure every child passes a standardized test, they are also binding teachers hands. Many teachers no longer feel it's their job to get a student to work to their potential because their efforts could backfire. I truly hope you can hold out until retirement.

Anonymous said...

Chaz has to be one of the few who fought every step of the way up to this date, I seriously doubt how much he has accomplished for himself and for his readers. Maybe this is the way it has always been except the ideal which likes a horizon that can be seen but will never be reached. Finding a way out is a necessity in its mental form and/or its physical one. A life has to move on, it should not and cannot be totally consumed. Many went through from major setbacks, serious sicknesses, bankruptcies, and other life, and changing events, they persevered and recovered.

Anonymous said...

To 28 year retired NYC teacher:
Ben Chapman here. I assure any teacher reading this that I am only interested in reporting the truth. I urge any teacher with evidence of "witch hunting lunacy" to contact me. If you Google my name you'll see I've uncovered plenty of malfeasance in the city schools.

Anonymous said...

My comment re witch hunts was directed to your paper and the many articles and editorials bashing teachers or union. Case in point, writing editorials and stories after the evaluations were published despite the pitfalls of VAM. Stories about bad teachers, etc. with photos w/o any proof but the scores. Finding parents to quote w/o them understanding the process. And the story that included Eric.
The real story is why Walcott gave it to the press! Why not write a follow up on how the DoE put good teachers in the RR just because the principals had it in for them. Funny how the series finale of Law & Order dealt with this issue, but the media hasn't.

I think it's great you are commenting and you want people to contact you. But these people have a right to know what your intentions are especially when other people who gave you info were left out of the article.

Anonymous said...

Btw, the above response was written by Anon 3:07 because not 28 Year Retired only because I have written on this and other blogs about this being a witch hunt.

I did not refer to you as Dirt Bag but I do agree with the sentiments that the DN doesn't follow ethical journalism. But I feel that way about the Post and the Times as well. Do you recall when the Post wrote an editorial blaming a Coney Island shooting on the UFT because it happened on a day when teachers were getting staff development and school wasn't in session??

There is only one education reporter I do trust and that's Winerip. He would have delved into this story knowing full well not to believe the DoE spin.

I am not defending any teacher who should not be defended, but the way these stories were written made the arbitrator seem like a fool and the rest of the teachers pervs. Eric doesn't fall into that category.

Like I said, the real story is with why the DoE is doing this as well as closing so many schools that are making great progress and got good report card marks?

Chaz said...

Anon 4:42

It was the Daily News who wrote the editorial that blamed the teachers for the shooting death of Tysha Jones. I wrote about in on June 11th 2011.

Anonymous said...

3020-a process is geared against the teacher. Those who dismiss charges are spoken to by the powers that be to change or else, the arbitrator is discharged as well. There are arbitrators who are excellent that are in the 3020-a panel and who actually make determinations based on the evidence deduced during the hearing. Many others operate in fear of being discharged by the union or the DOE and therefore, plays the politics. The Department will win more times than not if Arbitrators play the politics b/c that means that there will be a finding of guilt irrespective of the fact that the DOE has not prove its' case in chief. An employee found guilty of anything will never have a real future in the DOE unfortunately unless you know someone higher up at the DOE.

Anonymous said...

Love the tiny little correction about your case in the Daily News.....it's microscopic to the damage they caused. Wish you the best in life...know how the story goes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correction about the editorial on the Jones murder. I thought it was the Post. Interesting it was also from the DN. I have to say, I never read the DN report on this case until now because I was so upset by the Times coverage. However, maybe Mr. Chapman can explain why the words "perverts" and "pervs" were used in the headlines. I also saw the list called "Meet the Not So Sweet 16", and Eric's wording is taking out of context. I am sure the record of the case had the correct context. Wasn't a TV news producer recently fired for airing a 911 call and playing it out of context? Obviously the DN doesn't have standards.

I suppose if Chapman can call Eric a perv and not care about the facts, he shouldn't have such a thin skin when someone calls him names.

I haven't seen the correction. I suppose it's microscopic. But if you have the link, I would like to see what stands for journalism. What's next? Hacking into people's email and cell phones????

It's a wise move not to talk to reporters with the exception of Winerip. I trust him to not play games with people's comments.

btw,what happened to the principal who was making inappropriate comments to female teachers? Nothing!! Why didn't the DoE believe the teachers??? Of course Bloomberg's people are allowed to make errors in judgment and it's no big deal.

Unfortunately, Chapman and others like him have no qualms about what is truth and what is fiction. The days of fact-checking are over.

Anonymous said...

Never mind about the link. I read Perdido's blog and it supplied the link to one of the most disgusting attempts to set the record straight. The tone of the piece was degrading.

I still think about that poor teacher who was led out of Halsey Jr High in handcuffs because students lied. Thankfully the police investigated and not the DoE.

"Pervs" seem to fit Chapman and his colleagues quite fine.