Monday, July 16, 2012
The Christine Rubino Facebook Decision And Why The Arbitrator's Award Is Excessive.
As many of my followers know, Christine Rubino's case has made the newspapers. She was charged by the DOE for her Facebook comments that, were to say the least, ill considered and wrong. However, this was Christine's private Facebook page and only her friends should have been able to see it. Unfortunately, for Christine she had a falling out with one of her teacher friends who ratted her out to the Principal. Despite the DOE having no policy on social media at the time and no students were hurt by what she said on Facebook, Christine was charged under section 3020-a anyway. In fact, she continued teaching until her 3020-a charges more than five months later!
She was assigned an Arbitrator, Randi Lowett, who people in the 3020-a hearing process believed was reasonably even-handed in her "awards". However, according to Betsy Combier in Christine's open and public 3020-a hearing, this one was different. The DOE seemed especially interested in terminating Christine for her Facebook comments and in many of the sessions the head of the "Administrative Trials Unit (ATU), Teresa Europe, showed up. According to Betsy Combier who has been in many 3020-a hearings, this was a rare event to see the head of the ATU show up on more than one occasion. The question must be asked did Teresa Europe showing up at Christine's 3020-a hearing influenced Arbitrator Randi Lovett's decision? Furthermore, since Christine had fired her NYSUT lawyer, did this make it easier for the Arbitrator to terminate Christine? I do not know the answers but I have my own suspicions. The Arbitrator's original decision can be found here.
Based upon the Arbitrator's decision to terminate Christine Rubino for her Facebook comments it would seem that the "award" was excessive and Christine rightly appealed the case under section 75-11. The Supreme Court Judge, Barbara Jaffae, ruled that the "award" was shocking to the conscious" and sent it back to Arbitrator Randi Lovett, for a less severe "award". In the meantime the DOE has appealed the Judge's decision to the Appellate Court and since they were required to follow the Judge's decision for a lesser "award", the DOE arbitrarily asked that the Arbitrator rule that a two-year suspension would be appropriate. This type of severe penalty has not been "awarded" since the turn of the century to any one's knowledge. Either the educator gets a one year suspension or is terminated. The last two year suspension issued by a NYS Arbitrator is in the 1990's and that was based upon more serious charges.
Shockingly, but not surprisingly, the Arbitrator Randi Lowett agreed with the DOE and issued a two year suspension without pay or health benefits in what reads as a very angry decision. Christine is appealing again against the excessive "award" issued by the Arbitrator and hopefully, the Judge will once again send it back to a different Arbitrator, this time, for a decision that does not "shock the conscious".
I really know how Cristine feels about her persecution by the DOE. I spent 1567 days in the "rubber room" on false and frivolous charges and even this year the Mayor's poodle, the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott proclaimed me guilty even after the real evidence showed otherwise. Read the following blogs for more information on the DOE's crusade against Christine Rubino, a teacher with a fifteen year unblemished record. Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.