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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Teacher Glenn Storman Wins in Court After Fighting the NYC BOE on False Corporal Punishment Charges

Congratulations Mr. Storman!

We now know how the NYC Board of Education works to get rid of teachers "they" dont want: write TAC memos which'prove' an allegation (see my articles on the Teacher Performance Unit and the TPU, and "Investigating the Investigators")that may or may not be true. What is striking about the case of Mr. Storman is the fact that well-known "Gotcha Squad" OSI-former-police-detective Dennis Boyles is mentioned as changing his mind about what to charge Mr. Storman:
"An investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations ultimately substantiated the charges of corporal punishment. But in an apparent change of heart, the investigator who wrote that report, Dennis Boyles, testified during the appeal process that he did not believe Mr. Storman’s actions rose to the level of corporal punishment, according to the May 11 ruling."

See my article about Workplace Defamation Lawsuits and, if you see Mr. Condon or Mr. Boyles, give them the URL or a copy?

Congratulations also to New York State Supreme Court Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich for seeing that the investigators who accused Mr. Storman of corporal punishment after he waved a rolled up piece of paper in the air as "irrational"(read the entire decision below).

May 28, 2009
Teacher Resists a Charge of Corporal Punishment
By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ, NY TIMES

When Glenn Storman, a guidance counselor at Public School 212 in Gravesend, Brooklyn, came across an unruly student cursing at a substitute teacher in 2004, he ordered the boy to “zip it” and brandished a rolled-up piece of paper, thinking that would be the last he heard of the encounter.

But five years later, Mr. Storman, 57, is embroiled in a legal dispute over allegations that he committed corporal punishment. A 27-year veteran of the school system, Mr. Storman denies hitting the student and is seeking to erase an unsatisfactory rating that a principal gave him. The Department of Education, however, has defended the rating, arguing that Mr. Storman did indeed touch the student, who was in the fifth grade.

The case shows the difficulties teachers can face in disputing the ratings they receive each year from principals. The ratings can determine whether they are eligible for lucrative teaching opportunities outside of the normal school year. The case also sheds light on the fine lines of interpretation surrounding the question of corporal punishment: Did Mr. Storman’s paper brush against the student? If so, was that intentional, and did it rise to the level of corporal punishment?

Teachers who receive unsatisfactory ratings are allowed to appeal to a court, and this month a judge in Manhattan ruled in Mr. Storman’s favor, saying she did not find evidence of corporal punishment. The unsatisfactory rating, wrote the judge, Acting Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich, (pictured at right) “shocks the conscience, was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

The Department of Education said last week that it was reviewing the decision and declined to comment further.

In October 2004, Mr. Storman entered a special education classroom at P.S. 212 after hearing a student yelling. When he stepped into the room, he saw the student on his knees on a chair cursing at the teacher. Holding the piece of paper in his hand, Mr. Storman recalled in an interview, he told the student to be quiet. The student moved forward as he reprimanded him, but Mr. Storman said he did not remember coming into contact with him.

Mr. Storman said he would not have hit the student because he had experience with special education students and did not believe force was the best way of resolving disputes.

“I don’t need to do anything more than to look at them and say, ‘Listen, you know to stop right now,’ ” he said.

Mr. Storman said he had been carrying the rolled-up paper while walking down the hallway. In previous statements to school officials he said he “may have touched” the student’s mouth with the paper, according to the court ruling. He says now that he does not believe that was so.

The boy’s father complained to the school’s principal, who asked for an inquiry, and in 2005, Mr. Storman, who is still a guidance counselor at P.S. 212, received an unsatisfactory rating in his annual review. He appealed, but the Department of Education stood by its determination that he had committed corporal punishment.

Mr. Storman appealed again in 2006, seeking $100,000 in compensation because, he said, the unsatisfactory rating prevented him from getting work as a summer school teacher and a tutor, work which he estimates had added about $25,000 a year to his income. He has also filed a lawsuit in federal court, which is still pending.

Mr. Storman was given another unsatisfactory rating in 2008 after his principal said he had inappropriately yelled at a student, according to Mr. Storman’s lawyer, John. C. Klotz. Mr. Storman is also appealing that rating.

An investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations ultimately substantiated the charges of corporal punishment. But in an apparent change of heart, the investigator who wrote that report, Dennis Boyles, testified during the appeal process that he did not believe Mr. Storman’s actions rose to the level of corporal punishment, according to the May 11 ruling.

Mr. Boyles testified in 2006 that the encounter constituted “inappropriate physical contact” but not corporal punishment, the court ruling said. Last year, Mr. Boyles reiterated his statement that he did not believe Mr. Storman’s actions amounted to corporal punishment, but added that Mr. Storman inappropriately touched the student with the paper, according to the ruling.

The Department of Education defines corporal punishment as “any act of physical force upon a pupil for the purpose of punishing that pupil.”

Mr. Boyles stated in his report that three students in the classroom at the time of the encounter could not recall seeing the paper hit the student’s face. But the fifth grader whom Mr. Storman had reprimanded told the investigator that Mr. Storman had brushed the paper against his lips and embarrassed him, though he added that he had not been physically injured.

The principal of P.S. 212 said at a hearing last year that she had recommended that Mr. Storman be given the unsatisfactory rating because of Mr. Boyles’s findings, which she believed substantiated the corporal punishment charges, according to the ruling.

Justice Kornreich called the Department of Education’s actions “irrational.”

“Nothing in the record supports the D.O.E.’s conclusion that Mr. Storman committed a substantiated act of corporal punishment,” she wrote, ordering that the unsatisfactory rating be annulled.

Mr. Storman said in an interview that the Department of Education had turned a “pebble” into a “mountain worth of wrongdoing.”

“This was a long hard, road,” he said, “and a costly one to me.”

Judge: Brush With Paper Roll Wasn't Corporal Punishment
LINK

Back in 2005, Glenn Storman, a guidance counselor at P.S. 212 in Gravesend, entered a special education classroom in which a fifth-grader was kneeling on his chair cursing at the teacher. What happened next is a matter of debate: Storman says he happened to be holding a rolled up piece of paper when he told the boy to "zip it." But according to the Times, the student says Storman "brushed the paper against his lips and embarrassed him." After an investigation, Storman got an unsatisfactory rating in his annual review, which is a big deal because it prohibits him from getting extra work as a summer school teacher and a tutor. But after a long legal battle, it looks like the alleged paper punisher will be vindicated: A judge ruled earlier this month that Storman's actions did not constitute corporal punishment, and said the unsatisfactory rating "shocks the conscience, was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion." The Department of Education is reviewing the decision while defending another lawsuit brought by Storman in federal court. And it's unclear if the student has yet to recover from his brush with rolled up paper.

By John Del Signore in News on May 28, 2009 11:40 AM

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

you can't make this stuff up, even Stephen King couldn't make this up.

Chaz said...

Notice how the OSI investigator changed his mind when testifying under Oath in a real court? Obviously, he was told by the Principal to substantiate the Corporal Punishment allegation. Why else would he change his mind?

It just goes to prove that the SCI & OSI investigators are biased and flawed and the teacher does not stand a chance.

Fidgety said...

Notice how quickly the principal blames the basis for the U rating on the report by Mr. Boyles. She takes no responsibility for anything.

Anonymous said...

Also notice how this principal goes on and on. My condolences to the staff of P.S. 212. They are tortured on a daily basis, afraid for their jobs if they speak up and see nothing ahead but the most dismal working conditions. Josephine Marsella is a poisonous viper.

Anonymous said...

Josephine Marsella is an evil and incompetent woman.She doesn't care about the kids or teachers,and where does all the money go?Kids don't have what they need.This woman needs to be fired!!!!Everyone hates her.I feel sorry for the people who work in that school.
Unhappy parent

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