Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The New York City 3020-a Process Part 1 - The Process Itself.
This post is part 1 of a six part series on the State tenured teacher disciplinary process as it applies to New York City. At this point a little history of the 3020-a process itself and how it applies to New York City.
Originally, the New York City 3020-a process was the same as the State. That is the School District filed 3020-a charges and the teacher would appeal to the State for a hearing on the charges. The State would send a list of Arbitrators to both the teacher and the School District and have them agree to one on the list. If the teacher rejects the Arbitrators on the list, a new and final list of Arbitrators will be given and one must be selected or the State will select the Arbitrator. In teacher incompetence cases, a three judge panel will be selected and determine the proper "award" (penalty) for the School District. However, in 2000 and again in 2005, the UFT and DOE decided to have their own version of the 3020-a process with a minimum of twenty Arbitrators jointly selected to hear all tenured teacher disciplinary and incompetence cases. These Arbitrators were renewed yearly if both sides were satisfied with the Arbitrator decisions. Furthermore, only in New York City can a teacher be taken off payroll and health benefits if either OSI or SCI substantiates an accusation of non-felonious behavior such as sexual misconduct. I have spoken about this terrible travesty of justice previously and can be found Here and Here.
The NYCDOE always go for termination when they file 3020-a charges against a tenured teacher and will remove a teacher once 3020-a papers are served, sometimes when the teacher is in the classroom teaching a class! Of course for more serious accusations against a student, the teacher is usually removed from the school awaiting the outcome of the investigation and 3020-a hearing. Unfortunately, some high profiled teachers and bloggers find themselves removed from their schools even if they are not a threat to the students.
Tenured teachers served with the 3020-a charges must go immediately to the union Borough office and have the Special Representative file an appeal within 10 days of receipt of the DOE charges. Otherwise, the tenured teacher can be terminated at the next PEP meeting. The next step can take up to six months or longer as an Arbitrator is assigned to the case. At the same time NYSUT will assign a lawyer to represent you, free of charge. I recommend you meet with your NYSUT lawyer and see if you connect with the lawyer. If you decide on a private lawyer it will cost you $5,000 or more. Within six months your 3020-a hearing will start. The time can vary depending on the amount of Arbitrators that are on the panel (presently 19), Usually it takes about 3 months for the Arbitrator to mail the parties the "award".
If the teacher is not terminated (61% are not), the teacher will find herself in the ATR pool, no matter what the "award" is. It is highly unlikely that any NYC teacher is "acquitted" (4%) because of the tendency for the Arbitrators to give the DOE something for spending the time and money to try to terminate the teacher ($250,000 or more). If there was a substaintiated OSI or SCI investigation, even when a teacher is found innocent of these charges, the teacher's file includes a bright red flag" that tells principals not to hire them. So even when you win your 3020-a hearing the DOE makes sure you lose by claiming your guilty anyway.
Most 3020-a hearings are closed but the teacher has the right to have an open and public hearing however the NYSUT attorneys will almost always recommend against having an open hearing. Therefore, the final decision to have an open and public hearing is up to the teacher. Finally, under 3020-a the DOE can only go back three years from the date of the charges. However, it doesn't stop the DOE to bring up previous disciplinary issues even if they cannot be used in the hearing.