Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Why It Is Important To Have An "Independent Arbitrator" To Hear Evidence When The DOE Accuses The Teacher Of Misconduct .
In my school today I overheard a conversation between two teachers who were talking about the male Assistant Principal in the Bronx who was accused by two female students of touching their chests and was arrested by the police for "forcible touching". What infuriated me was their assumption that the Assistant Principal was guilty by these two teachers. What was worse, when I informed them that sometimes students lie and that the two girls may have been angry about being disciplined by the Assistant Principal and made up the story. The two teachers claimed that no student would ever lie about being sexually abused. I ended the conversation by telling them that they are naive to think that students would not lie if they knew it can get the teacher in trouble. Some of the most recent articles dealing with student false allegations can be found Here, Here, Here, and Here.
Whether the Assistant Principal did or did not do what he was accused of, the bottom line is that the Police must show "evidence". Since the incidents apparently occurred in the school's hallway, won't cameras show it, how about witnesses? What are the disciplinary records of the accusers? I will wait for the police investigation to be complete before I pass judgement. However, being an Administrator, I am sure if the Assistant Principal is cleared of the charges, he will be rapidly sent back to the school by the DOE and the incident will not affect his path to be a Principal.
On the other hand, if a teacher is charged with what the Assistant Principal was accused of and the charge was dismissed due too a "lack of evidence", the teacher's nightmare is just beginning. The DOE's "Office of Legal Services" will order an SCI investigation and if the Principal does not like or want the teacher back in the school, the SCI investigation will substantiate the accusation. Yes, it's true, the SCI investigators will interview carefully selected, not random, students who have had problems with the teacher to get them to tell them any real or imaginary action or statement that the teacher did to make the student uncomfortable and then use the student statements to sustain the accusation. The result is that the DOE then files 3020-a charges against the teacher and since the DOE claims it is of a sexual nature, they also file a "probable cause hearing" which can get the teacher suspended without pay and health benefits for three months!
If it was up to the DOE these teachers accused of alleged sexual misconduct and substantiated by a biased SCI investigation, would automatically be fired. It matters little that there is no "evidence" of sexual misconduct or that statements and actions were deliberately taken out of context, perverted, embellished, or twisted by SCI to substantiate the charge. Even outright lies are believed by the SCI investigators if it helps them make their case. However, teachers have this little thing called "due process" which requires the DOE to present and show a preponderance of "relevant evidence" to an independent Arbitrator. It is here that the teacher actually has a more even playing field since the DOE must prove the charges filed against the teacher. Since many of the cases against teachers are not based upon solid evidence but on an Administrator's or student dislike of the teacher, the lies, embellishments, the out of context actions or statements fall apart. The result is that many teachers end up with a "slap on the wrist", which is usually a small fine. True, if the DOE really has "solid evidence", the Arbitrator will terminate the teacher.
If any educator commits sexual misconduct, they should be fired but only when there is a "preponderance of relevant evidence" presented to an independent Arbitrator not because a vindictive student or Administrator accuses that educator of it.