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Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Bad Is NYSUT as Providers of Due Process at 3020-a Arbitration?

My opinion is that the NYSUT/UFT "play along to get along" with Mike Bloomberg has caused the destruction of the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of effective, professional, caring teachers and staff of the New York City Board/Department of Education ....all members of the UFT....for at least the past 10 years. Their goal was to get tenured teachers out of public schools because Mike Bloomberg hated tenure protections and the thought that someone could not be fired in a second for no reason other than that the administrator wanted this person gone. This is good business, says Mike and Jack Welch (pictured below).


I guess everyone knows that you do not have to use NYSUT to defend at 3020-a. Right?
You can use a private Attorney and team, use a friend/advocate as your assistant, or you can do the 3020-a yourself  "Pro se"  

NYSUT cannot tell you this, nor does NYSUT bother to tell you any of your due process rights. Indeed, NYSUT attorneys warn you not to speak with me or, god forbid, get my telephone number or email address betsy.combier@gmail.com and call me to ask questions about how 3020-a arbitration works.

Thus you should find out what you need to know by seeking information on your own. A person brought to 3020-a arbitration is given paperwork with Education Law 3020-a when they are charged. Few read it. Everyone should, but teachers seldom are lawyers too, so they rely on their NYSUT Attorney to tell them what it says.

That's a mistake.

Why is it a mistake? Because your Union, the UFT, and the NYSUT lawyers contracted to protect your due process rights at 3020-a, neglect to do that. For example, if you are charged with misconduct, you may get an email from Virginia Lopreto, a criminal attorney who works on contract to NYSUT. If you actually get to speak with Ms. Lopreto you are lucky. She will tell OSI, SCI, OEO that you refuse to speak with any of them, and then you will never hear from her. Here is a letter written by a member who had that experience (I have removed the name of the member, because victim's names are not important):

"Dear Ms. LoPreto:
My name is                   (                    to you because you never got my name right). My case was assigned to you because I am a UFT member who has been a victim of a false accusation. I received an email sent by your secretary, which was a copy of the email you sent to Ron Vance, fromthe SCI.  The second and last email that you sent to me was a copy of an email you sent to Mr. Vance, stating that I have the right not to answer his questions. After that, I called your office several times with questions that were never answered. In fact, I could never get in touch with you either by phone or in person. You didn't offer me any support, knowing that I didn’t even have knowledge of the accusations leveled against me. I felt very uncomfortable when told by Mr. Vance, at the time that he had been trying to get my declaration over the phone without legal representation or witness,  that if the UFT lawyer will tell me not to provide information to him, that he would end up closing my case. I wanted to share that with you and I needed some of my questions answered, but it never happen. On May 14, I received the report of the investigation and a letter from the superintendent on May 23th. I faxed both those documents to you. I called your office seeking advice on what to do next and you never even returned my calls. I kept calling until a substitute to your secretary called me back and said that you were not going to continue with my case and that if I wanted to proceed I just needed to go back to the UFT, something you did not even have  the decency to tell me directly. I asked him if he could send an email stating your decision and he replied that you were not going to send me anything.

In sum, I really didn't appreciate your treatment. It is not you not proceeding with the case that is particularly troublesome, but you not even bothering to show due respect and consideration to people without whom you wouldn’t even be here. You work for the union because we make it possible for you to get a salary, and there is just no room or excuse for your lack of courtesy to people you have moral, professional and ethical obligation to defend.
I cannot even say it was a pleasure meeting you because you did not even make that possible."

See an email from NYSUT Attorney Paul Bloom, to a client who fired him when she received this:

"From: Paul Brown <pbrown@nysutmail.org>
To:
Sent: Wed,  2013
Subject: Re: - WITNESSES

I have an ethical obligation not to put on witnesses that I believe will be damaging to your case.  I have confirmed with one of my supervisors and with several colleagues at my office that the witnesses you suggested will offer little, if any, substantive value and will open the door to many more potential problems. .....
 
Please call me should you have any further questions.

Paul K. Brown
New York State United Teachers
 
 
Below is the Education Law 3020-a (1) and (2)(a):
 

NY CLS Educ § 3020-a  (2014)


§ 3020-a.  Disciplinary procedures and penalties

   1. Filing of charges. All charges against a person enjoying the benefits of tenure as provided in subdivision three of section [fig 1]
 eleven hundred two, and sections [fig 2] twenty-five hundred nine, [fig 3] twenty-five hundred seventy-three, twenty-five hundred ninety-j, three thousand twelve and three thousand fourteen of this chapter shall be in writing and filed with the clerk or secretary of the school district or employing board during the period between the actual opening and closing of the school year for which the employed is normally required to serve. Except as provided in subdivision eight of section [fig 4] twenty-five hundred seventy-three and subdivision seven of section twenty-five hundred ninety-j of this chapter, no charges under this section shall be brought more than three years after the occurrence of the alleged incompetency or misconduct, except when the charge is of misconduct constituting a crime when committed.
 
2. Disposition of charges.

a. Upon receipt of the charges, the clerk or secretary of the school district or employing board shall immediately notify said board thereof. Within five days after receipt of charges, the employing board, in executive session, shall determine, by a vote of a majority of all the members of such board, whether probable cause exists to bring a disciplinary proceeding against an employee pursuant to this section. If such determination is affirmative, a written statement specifying [i] the charges in detail, [ii] the maximum penalty which will be imposed by the board if the employee does not request a hearing or that will be sought by the board if the employee is found guilty of the charges after a hearing and [fig 1] [iii] the employee's rights under this section, shall be immediately forwarded to the accused employee by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested or by personal delivery to the employee.
 
New York State School Boards Association is no fan of teachers' rights, either:
See ON BOARD from 2007

However, as NYC has no school board, NYC is not technically a member of NYSSBA. Several years ago I went to the NYSSBA annual conference as Press at the NY Sheraton Hotel, and sat at the only table with any seats, the NYC table. I sat next to Courtenaye Jackson-Chase (left). At the same table were leading names from the Office of Legal Services, such as Judy Nathan. In the program, my name and the name of the former General Counsel (before Courtenaye), Michael Best, Esq. were listed as representing New York City. I sent the post below to a listserv, nyceducationnews on October 28, 2007:

"To all:
 
As a paralegal and a non-Attorney, I attended an all day seminar on School Law held at the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday, October 25, 2007. The seminar was part of the New York State School Boards Association conference.
 
The book that all participants received describes Open Meetings Law and the requirement that all Executive Sessions of a public body be voted on in a full meeting, and minutes are taken during the subsequent Executive Session where a majority votes on probable cause.
 
Therefore, all the votes taken and teachers terminated by a vote of the PEP members in Executive Session over the past 5 years are contrary to the law. The NYC BOE has required all persons interested in obtaining a copy of the tape of each meeting to file a Freedom of Information request, therefore the NYC BOE has substantiated the belief that the PEP is a public body. A powerless one, as Michael Best wrote to me “The PEP has no administrative or executive functions”.
 
Further news distressing to anyone in the New York City school district (NYC and boroughs) who would like to have any voice at all in creating policy or deciding complaints/issues: New York City has the largest school system in the nation, but was not represented at the NYSSBA conference. The only attendees listed from NYC Area 13 were me and Michael Best, a presenter of the “Contract For Excellence” session. Two other people from NYC (who kindly sat next to me at my table) were Ms. Judy Nathan and Ms. Courtenaye Jackson-Chase, both listed as “Attorney” for the NYC BOE.
 
We thus have a quasi-legal system set up to prevent any opposition to a resolution/vote/consent set by the Mayor/Mr. Klein.........
 
We have no right to get an independent decision on any complaints we may have, as everyone making decisions on grievances/special education hearings belong to Joel and Mike.
 
Gosh, how could we get in this position?"
 
David Bloomfield answered with Open Meetings Law, Sections 105 and 106
 
As we all now know, NYC does not have a school board/employing board and no longer has Executive Sessions at the PEP meetings. When the PEP did hold Executive Sessions, the group violated Open Meetings Law Section 105 by having the Session before the public meeting began. I used to speak at the public meeting part of the monthly PEP meeting, and ask for the reason for that, as well as a tally of each member's vote. Joel Klein would not nicely tell me to sit down, shut up and my time was up. I would say that my time was not up, but he would not give me an answer. Still don't have one.

In fact, if you look at the Notice of Determination of Probable Cause (paperwork sent to all teachers/employees charged with 3020-a), the date of the Executive Session at which probable cause was voted on, is blank. I posted the probable cause notice received by Francesco Portelos with his permission. There is no date for the Executive Session listed. Superintendent Erminio Claudia
Superintendent Cludia

testified at Francesco's 3020-a that there WAS an "Executive Session", namely when she met with "legal" on Francesco's case and they "found" probable cause for his charges. I would suggest that this meeting is not what is cited in the law, Open Meetings Law, or 3020-a(2)(a). Where did she get this version?

So in all cases brought to 3020-a arbitration, probable cause is determined improperly. Without the proper determination of probable cause according to Education Law 3020-a (1) and (2)(a), arbitrators appointed to hear 3020-a cases have no subject matter jurisdiction to decide on whether there is Just Cause for any penalty.

This is what NYSUT doesn't want you to know. In fact, your NYSUT attorney may rush you into a pre-hearing and then a full hearing/resignation/retirement/fine and settlement without any time to discuss the charges against you. NYSUT states in letters to those who opt to hire a private attorney or advocate, or do the 3020-a themselves:

"...changes to the Education Law negotiated by the UFT and the Board supercede the statutory provisions. Even though you are not utilizing NYSUT legal counsel, your case must be processed pursuant to the disciplinary procedures negotiated by the UFT and the Board. You do not have the right for your case to go forward pursuant to the Educational Law as it exists without the negotiated changes contained in Article 21 (G).(scroll to p. 113)."

No mention of probable cause found as required by Education Law 3020-a. But NYSUT isn't saying that the Law isn't there, just that you cannot use it for your case.

Bulloney.

This is, in my thinking, the biggest error of NYSUT representation. Because without a probable cause determination in an Executive Session of the employing board, and a vote by a majority of members, you are left with anyone "finding" probable cause, and charging you with something that may or may not be true. The arbitrator hears only what the NYC DOE wants him/her to hear.

But arbitrators on the NYC permanent panel are paid $1400/day, and if they agree that probable cause has not been properly determined they wont get paid. So the arbitrators deny the dismissal of the case on any grounds, or there will be no payment coming their way.

Teacher discipline and termination are what the Department of Education calls "their business". It's not only a business, it's a partnership. With NYSUT and the UFT.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sol Stern Responds To Diane Ravitch


SOL STERN
The Real Common Core Story
A response to Diane Ravitch and others
17 April 2014
 
I couldn’t miss the eye-catching headline on Diane Ravitch’s influential blog: “Schneider Schools Sol Stern on the Common Core.” Mercedes Schneider, a Louisiana teacher, is one of Ravitch’s loyal allies in the education-reform wars. Ravitch thinks she’s a great investigator and often cites her work. Actually, what Schneider excels at is promulgating conspiracy theories and using guilt-by-association to discredit those with whom she disagrees—such as supporters of the Common Core State Standards, whom she accuses of being duped and bribed by a corporate, anti-public school conspiracy led by Bill Gates, with an assist from President Barack Obama.
Schneider’s denunciation of one of my recent articles defending the Common Core characteristically didn’t engage with my arguments, but it did provide a list of my nefarious “connections” and “involvements” with conservative organizations. With trumpets blaring, Schneider announced that the Manhattan Institute, where I am a senior fellow, has “a board of trustees noticeably heavy on hedge fund managers” and that “it should come as no surprise that MI promotes ‘economic choice’; ‘market-oriented policies,’ and ‘free market ideas.’” (Schneider doesn’t seem to have noticed that most supporters of free markets in education actually oppose the Common Core.) She also levies the bizarre allegation that “MI is a cousin to the [conservative] American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).” In another feat of investigative journalism, Schneider offers an inside scoop about me and my wife: “Stern is not a teacher, nor has he ever been a teacher. But he is married to a Manhattan, NY, high school teacher. Not sure if she is under the so-called Common Core State Standards (CCSS).” And I’m not sure what that even means.
Another of my defects, according to Schneider, is that I have written favorably about E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge curriculum. She doesn’t explain what’s wrong with the Hirsch curriculum but instead alleges that Core Knowledge “was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify in 2013.” If that were true, it would be considered a hanging offense in Schneider and Ravitch’s leftist circles, because Amplify is a “for-profit” company and Rupert Murdoch is, you know, Rupert Murdoch. But the Murdoch allegation is false. Schneider probably borrowed it from Ravitch, who published it on her blog last year before retracting the claim when confronted with the truth—that the Core Knowledge curriculum was licensed to Amplify for the sole purpose of distributing it to schools around the country (a good thing for American children.)
Normally, it wouldn’t occur to me to respond to Schneider’s fact-deprived attack—except that it appeared on Ravitch’s blog, which reaches tens of thousands of readers on some days. Ravitch is also the leader of a new left-wing education movement that has effectively exploited parental and teacher discontent with the Common Core Standards. It says something significant about the cause Ravitch now champions that she approves of Schneider’s methods and uses them herself in criticizing my politically incorrect views on education reform.
Like Schneider, Ravitch believes that readers need to know the highlights of my life story and my affiliations in order to evaluate properly my position on the Common Core. She begins by noting that we first met when we were fellows at the Manhattan Institute, which is true. She then goes on to assert as an uncontested fact that after serving as “an editor at the leftwing Ramparts” in the 1960s, I “had a political-ideological conversion experience” and “became a zealous conservative.” My transition from leftist radicalism toward a rather moderate conservatism took place gradually over many years and involved several important issues, including the defense of Israel, education, racial politics, and the failures of the welfare state. Tagging me as a “zealous” conservative is a calculated move on Ravitch’s part. I am no more zealous about conservative ideas than Ravitch was when she served in the administration of the first President Bush. Like her, I support gay rights, abortion rights, and other liberal positions. Indeed, if I really were a zealous conservative, I probably wouldn’t support the Common Core.
Dredging up my political loyalties from almost a half-century ago and my subsequent shift in thinking hardly seems relevant to understanding my views on the Common Core. Yet it does reveal Ravitch’s hypocrisy. I plead guilty to having flip-flopped once, from leftism to conservatism. But Ravitch has flip-flopped twice, from liberalism to conservatism and then all the way back beyond liberalism to her embrace of leftist doctrines—including her much-repeated claim that America’s “one percent,” the corporate elite, are now engaged in a conspiracy to dismantle or privatize the nation’s public schools.
Ravitch’s hypocrisy is even more pronounced when you consider her current fulminations against the Common Core Standards. Her two main (but contradictory) complaints are, first, that the standards are part of a “billionaire boys’ club” plot to destroy the public schools and, second, that the Obama administration is using the standards to impose a nationalized curriculum on the public schools. The irony in all of this is that, if I had to name one individual who, from 1988 to 2008, did the most to encourage education policymakers to support national standards and curriculum, it would be Diane Ravitch.
As a deputy education secretary in the George H.W. Bush administration, Ravitch’s main assignment was to use the federal government’s bully pulpit to push for national standards. She subsequently wrote a book for the Brookings Institution titled National Standards in American Education: A Citizen’s Guide. Ravitch insists that there is no inconsistency here, since she had only supported “voluntary” standards, whereas the Common Core, she says, represents a federal mandate (because the Obama administration awarded funds to some states for adopting the standards). But adopting the Common Core remains voluntary. Five states initially declined to adopt, and more are likely to discard them in the near future. None will suffer federal penalties for doing so.
Moreover, Ravitch has never confronted the most glaring contradiction stemming from her long-time advocacy of national standards. On November 7, 2005, she published a widely discussed (and brilliant) op-ed in the New York Times declaring that “Americans must recognize that we need national standards, national tests and a national curriculum.” (Emphasis added.) Ravitch expressed frustration with the failure of President George W. Bush to follow up on the efforts of the previous Bush and Clinton administrations to move toward national standards and national tests. Because of the Republican Party’s “philosophy of localism,” wrote Ravitch, Bush “adopted a strategy of ‘50 states, 50 standards, 50 tests,’” which failed to bring about improvements in the schools. Ravitch cited the poor results of that year’s federal NAEP tests to support her contention that the “varying state standards and tests are inadequate,” and that there would be no improvement in students’ academic performance as long as the administration continued to follow “a strategy of letting the states choose their own standards and tests.” Nor, Ravitch concluded, “will we reach that goal [of academic improvement] if we pretend that mathematics taught in Alaska or Iowa is profoundly different from the mathematics taught in Maine or Florida, or for that matter, in Japan and Hungary.” Ravitch never used the word “voluntary” to qualify her support for national standards and tests, so it’s hard to take seriously the rationalization she has since offered for opposing the Common Core.
But even more remarkable was Ravitch’s unequivocal endorsement of a national curriculum. The curriculum issue has always been the third rail in any discussion of national education standards in the United States. (Most other industrialized nations have national curriculums.) That’s not only because of the Republican Party’s “philosophy of localism” in education, as Ravitch noted, but also because U.S. education law clearly prohibits the federal government from “exercising control” over the development of curriculum by states or school districts. With that restriction in mind, the authors of the Common Core included specific language saying that the standards were not to be regarded as a curriculum and, moreover, that each state should develop its own grade-by-grade curriculum materials aligned with the standards.
With her endorsement of a national curriculum, as well as national standards and tests, Ravitch was arguably even more “zealous” than other champions of standards reform at the time. And because of her reputation as one of the nation’s most esteemed education scholars, her Timesarticle provided encouragement to the Washington-based organizations—including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers—that were beginning to push for the adoption of national standards, and whose efforts led a few years later to the creation of the Common Core. Borrowing from Ravitch, these groups argued that the United States couldn’t improve the public schools if it continued to follow a strategy of “50 states, 50 standards, 50 tests.”
In her recent blog post, Ravitch wrote that she wasn’t “sure that Stern understands the Common Core standards.” Specifically, she faulted me for “think[ing] that the Common Core implements the ideas of E.D. Hirsch Jr.” I have never made such a claim. What I didwrite, almost two years ago, was that the Common Core Standards deserved support—among other reasons, because they were “creating a historic opportunity to introduce Hirsch’s curriculum to many more schools and classrooms.” So far, some progress has been made along those lines: New York State has made the Core Knowledge English Language Arts curriculum for the early grades available to all schools; 71 New York City elementary schools are using the Core Knowledge curriculum; the Louisiana Education Department has designated Core Knowledge as the preferred curriculum for the state’s elementary schools; and Amplify will soon distribute the Core Knowledge curriculum on electronic tablets to classrooms around the country.
In my writing, I have suggested that education reformers of all stripes could help convince states and districts to adopt Core Knowledge or some variant of the Hirsch curriculum as part of their implementation of the Common Core Standards. I had once hoped that Diane Ravitch would do so—despite her generally negative opinion of the Common Core—because for almost her entire professional life, she has been a fervent advocate of Core Knowledge and, more recently, an advocate for a national curriculum in the United States. Instead, she has decided that it would be better for American education if the Common Core were brought down entirely. And after a quarter-century of supporting Core Knowledge (including serving on its board), Ravitch has suddenly discovered that Hirsch’s early-grade curriculum is “developmentally inappropriate” for young children.
If Diane Ravitch and other anti-Common Core campaigners on both the left and right succeed in their destructive mission, we will go right back to “50 states, 50 standards, 50 tests.” Ravitch and her allies can then celebrate their political victory—but the children in America’s schools will be the losers.

NYC Charters Win Two Court Cases

Eva Moskowitz


Two wins for NYC charter schools: Teachers union's suit nixed, Mayor de Blasio backs school-sharing

A judge on Tuesday tossed out a lawsuit brought by the United Federation of Teachers to block the opening of 13 charter schools in September that are sharing space with existing public schools, including seven charters run by former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. Meanwhile, the city’s Law Department defended 36 other co-located schools challenged by Public Advocate Letitia James.

 
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
LINK 
Thursday, April 17, 2014, 10:36 PM

City charter schools scored a pair of legal victories this week as the teachers union lost an anti-charter lawsuit and Mayor de Blasio defended controversial school-sharing plans approved under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On Tuesday, a judge tossed out a suit brought by the United Federation of Teachers to block the opening of 13 charter schools in September, including seven charters run by former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz.

The union had argued Bloomberg improperly pushed through the co-locations, which place a charter in the same facility as an existing public school. The space-sharing would make teachers’ jobs harder, the UFT said.

But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alexander Hunter ruled the union had not exhausted “all administrative remedies” before filing the suit, and that “there is no basis for the claim that the proposals were issued prematurely.”

A spokeswoman for the teachers union said they were reviewing the decision.

It was the latest win for Moskowitz, who last month saw de Blasio allow three of her charter schools to open after the mayor initially wanted to block them.

The longtime political foe of the teachers union praised the judge's decision. "For years, the teachers union has tried to block charter schools no matter the cost to children," said Moskowitz. "Thankfully, the court put the interests of children first."

Meanwhile, in another lawsuit rooted in the final days of the Bloomberg era, the city’s Law Department vigorously defended 36 other co-locations challenged by Public Advocate Letitia James.

The Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy approved the arrangements in a series of meeting late last year — before de Blasio took office.

In new court papers, city attorney Zachary Carter argued the co-locations were approved “in full compliance with education law” and in a timely manner.




On the campaign trail, de Blasio (pictured above)  had called the co-location plans “a cynical effort to lock communities into permanent changes while ignoring community voices.”


Arthur Schwartz, (left) an attorney for James and the coalition of advocacy groups that brought the suit, noted the change in tone.

“It’s disappointing the mayor isn’t using the lawsuit to revisit the overcrowding issue that has enraged parents across the city who were hoping he would be their ally,” Schwartz said.

 But de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said the 36 co-locations had been vetted and were not improper in any way.

“Our job is to give every child a great education, and we are confident we can implement these co-locations without negatively impacting the learning of children already in those buildings,” Norvell said.

The suit has pitted James against her political ally, de Blasio.

A spokeswoman for James signaled she isn’t backing down.

“Public Advocate James’ principled position remains consistent: Forced co-locations must not move forward without parents’ input or when they result in overcrowding, students being warehoused in trailers, loss of space for special education and physical education, and elementary students being mixed with high school students,” the spokeswoman said.

Both suits were an example of de Blasio’s effort to ensure his power over education policy, said Brooklyn College and City University of New York education professor David Bloomfield.

“The city wants to maintain its authority. They don’t want to be ruled by a court or the public advocate or the teachers union,” he said. “These developments strengthen the authority of the city.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In NYC, Criticizing The Department of Education or Making the DOE look "Bad" in Any Way is a Crime

Any parent, child, teacher or administrator who says the DOE stinks, gets punished. If you are a child, and you dispute what a principal says or refuse to write a statement condemning your favorite teacher to a rubber room, you will be threatened with a failing grade, with statements to the effect that your family may be harmed, and/or you may be suspended to an alternative location for no valid reason. The principal may accuse your parents of abuse and call the Administration for Children's Services to have you put into foster care.

If you are a parent, all of your children will be tormented in their classrooms, and SOHO reports will be written that will be forever held against you. You will never see these reports. You may be barred from entering the school, even for Parent-Teacher Conferences.

If you are a teacher, you will be discontinued (if you are not tenured) and put into a rubber room if you are a tenured professional. Why are you removed from your classroom? So that investigators can create false charges against you without your knowledge and consent. This has always, in my opinion, been the purpose of the rubber rooms/ATR pool.

If you are an administrator you are given a promotion to the Children's First Network, demoted to an AP status, or given a school out of control so that you have no chance of making a good impression upon anyone.

My first experience with how much the DOE hates being made a fool of came in 2000, when I spoke up about the theft at Booker T. Washington MS 54 by the Principal, Lawrence ("Larry") Lynch. I was the PTA President. I was called a liar, a thief, and a child abuser, publicly. But I would not succumb to their lies, so they - the DOE -  and their so-called thugs/investigators went after my children.

Then I met David Pakter in 2003, and he told me about the rubber room (25 Chapel Street, Brooklyn) at which he was re-assigned, and I started visiting the teachers there. Then David was charged with 3020-a, and he demanded an open and public hearing so that I could attend. NYSUT Attorney Chris Callagy was his attorney (pictured at left, Betsy Combier and Chris Callegy, photo taken by David Pakter).

Evidently the Department had a problem with David and I publicly making fun of the Department, because suddenly David was charged with making the Department of Education "look bad". This was the first time that I had heard of such a 3020-a charge. David and I spoke with Randi Weingarten, President of the UFT, about it and she agreed with us. She called over to the DOE, demanding that they drop this charge, and the charge was dismissed.

Now, the DOE is again attacking anyone who makes them look bad. I guess because I don't work for them I have not yet received my punishment for my exercise of free speech, but this has not been the case with several teachers who recently publicized the attacks by DOE thugs. Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito, Francesco Portelos and Lydia Howrilka were all charged with making the DOE look bad and were to be fired for getting the attention of media (Lydia was fired because she is not tenured and has no right to a due process hearing known as 3020-a). Francesco and Lydia (see story below) were arrested.

You cant make this stuff up.

Betsy Combier

Lydia Howrilka

Bronx teacher thrown in jail after criticizing principal



LINK

A Bronx teacher who criticized her boss got a hard lesson recently when she was thrown in jail.
Lydia Howrilka, 24, of the Academy for Language and Technology HS, was fired last July by Principal Arisleyda Urena, who called her ineffective.
Howrilka sued and filed a complaint alleging Urena improperly raffled off iPads and other costly prizes for kids. The claim prompted a DOE probe.
Howrilka sent an e-mail asking about her treatment to Urena and Chancellor Carmen Fariña — and to some 40 other city and state education officials and city politicians.
She got a call from the NYPD asking her to surrender on Urena’s charge of aggravated harassment.
Howrilka spent seven hours in the 84th Precinct house before being moved to Brooklyn’s Central Booking.
After seven more hours, a court officer said the DA had dismissed the charge.
“I believe it was done to intimidate,” she said. “And I’m concerned it will have a chilling effect on other whistleblowers.”
Urena’s lawyer, Tim Parlatore, said his client called cops “because of repeated, unwanted e-mails and communications.”
Also tossed in the klink was Francesco Portelos, a technology teacher at IS 49 Berta A. Dreyfus on Staten Island, who was yanked from his classroom two years ago, after launching a blog accusing Principal Linda Hall of violating rules. The outcome of his termination hearing on charges of insubordination and other alleged misconduct is pending.
Portelos, 35, who collects a $75,796 salary, wrote a satirical blog post on Feb. 24 saying he had hacked into the DOE’s payroll system with the password “kittensRcute,” and given himself a raise.
“Ridiculous story? Yes it is,” he wrote in the same post, adding “the truth is I can’t hack and never have.”
But the DOE’s chief information security officer, Desmond White, filed a complaint of official misconduct.
The police report asks, “Is Victim fearful of their safety/life?” White apparently answered “YES.”
 
Portelos spent 33 hours in custody, sleeping on the floor of a crowded cell next to a toilet, he said, before the DA dropped the charge.
The DOE made no apology. “We believe Mr. Portelos acted inappropriately with a post on his blog, and we notified the NYPD out of an abundance of caution,” a spokesman said.

Lydia Howrilka's  letter March 11, 2014
Teacher needs answers over treatment by DOE
LINK
An open letter to city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña:
This letter is in regard to my investigations with the Office of Special Investigations in the city Department of Education and my still pending investigation and charges from a school-based investigation.
I was a teacher for the DOE. Teaching had been my passion since I was a young girl, and I am a proud graduate of Hunter College’s School of Education. I worked in District 9, at the Academy for Language and Technology in the Bronx.
Principal Arisleyda Ureña hired me in August 2012 to teach social studies. I stayed late almost every day crafting rigorous and engaging lessons, working with my colleagues to improve the outcomes for our English language learners and organizing school-wide events in my role as student government faculty adviser.
On June 17, 2013, I received a letter from Cristina Jimenez stating that I had been reassigned from my position. I spent the final eight school days of the academic year sitting in a reassignment center at 1 Fordham Plaza. Neither Ureña, any staff member from ALT’s Children First Network, any investigator from the Office of Special Investigations, nor any lawyer from DOE told me why I was reassigned. I did not speak with an investigator upon arrival or during my stay there.
On July 15, 2013, I was discontinued from probationary service. Prior to this discontinuance, I had received a job offer from a secondary school outside District 9 in early July 2013. The new principal’s CFN human resources manager was unable to attach me to the job and informed me that I had been “red flagged” in the system.
I went to OSI July 25, 2013, and spoke to Henry Gomez as a walk-in when Gomez was doing intake. I wanted to know whether I was under investigation. Gomez was professional and looked up the case to see which OSI investigator was handling my case. Gomez informed me that OSI had no information as to what is going on with my case because it had been downgraded to a local, school-based investigation.
It has been more than seven months since an investigation was first opened on me. I have not received any charges to date. I have neither spoken to Ureña, interim acting Principal Jose Viñales, Superintendent Carron Staple, any DOE investigator regarding my case, nor Senior Field Counsel Gillian Kost. On Nov. 1, 2013, Ureña resigned from her position as principal of the Academy for Language and Technology.
How does this affect my case? Is it still open? Were my “charges” found to be unsubstantiated or not?
On Nov. 8, 2013, Katherine Rodi sent me an e-mail explaining to me that my termination from the DOE will “trigger” a review if I have a “valid job offer.” A copy of Rodi’s e-mail reads as follows:
“Ms. Howrilka,
“Mr. Hearn and Mr. Condon are not involved with the clearance process within the DOE.
“As I have told you and your representatives before, your termination from the DOE will trigger a review if you have a valid job offer. Until you have a valid job offer, your file will not be reviewed. There is no “flag” on your record beyond your termination.
“Sincerely,
“Katherine Rodi
“Director of Employee Relations
“NYCDOE”
Rodi; Lawrence Becker, the chief executive officer of the Division of Human Resources and Talent; and the Office of Personnel Investigation are unwilling to respond to my questions regarding my school-based investigation, but during an interview with OPI Investigator Laurie Vazquez, she informed me that the reason why I had been unable to accept a job with another DOE school in early July was because of the OSI/school-based investigation which had placed a “block” on my record and prevented the second principal from hiring me.
This “block” made it impossible for the principal to enter my credentials through Galaxy and trigger OPI to re-open and re-evaluate my case.
I am requesting a meeting with you and other appropriate school officials regarding my OSI and school-based investigations. What charges had I been accused of that warranted my removal from ALT June 17, 2013, in the middle of proctoring a Regents exam?
Since I have neither met with an investigator, an administrator, nor another DOE official regarding my charges in seven months, this removal and subsequent silence are violations of my constitutional right to due process.

Lydia Howrilka
Floral Park