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 email@example.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):
See an email from NYSUT Attorney Paul Bloom, to a client who fired him when she received this:
"From: Paul Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wed, 2013
Subject: Re: - WITNESSES
Paul K. Brown
§ 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.
See ON BOARD from 2007
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:
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
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.
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.