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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hal Lanse, Teacher in the "New" Rubber Room, is Suspended Without Pay

As I wrote previously (See The Rubber Room Diaspora), former rubber roomers are now scattered throughout the City of New York, so that the massive violations of civil rights, labor and employment law, legal malpractice and denial of due process can be swept under a rug and "forgotten" by the general public as we head into the November elections. The UFT, NYSUT and the New York City Board of Education (the legal name) are all hoping that the news of all that has gone wrong over the past eight years will be stale by now, and the politicians, staff and employees of these three groups can "forget" about being terrified of someone holding them accountable for ruining the lives and careers of not only thousands of teachers but also thousands of children and young adults who were used as pawns in the deadly game of fraud, extortion and theft.

I am, of course, talking about money. If there was no money to be taken by the folk that brought you The Rubber Room (all locations and the process of "rubberization") I believe none of this (the rubberization of the workforce) would have happened, or at least it would have been kept within lawful boundaries, but for the fact that there is alot of money for those who can successfully grab it. An example of this is the harassment of tenured employees by NYSUT attorneys and the NYC BOE to sign settlement agreements. If a teacher is going into a 3020-a, it really doesn't matter if he or she is guilty or innocent. Mayor Bloomberg has decreed that the 'rubber rooms' issue is not good for him, politically speaking, therefore every case must be completely over by December 31, 2010. Thus the "Respondents" (teachers) are forced to give the Board $5,000+ to go back to a school as an ATR (a title that someone made up) or else they are going to be terminated. The new agreement and the terms of most of the current settlement agreements significantly harm the due process rights of anyone going through 3020-a right now.

Email from Hal Lanse, former Rubber Room teacher at 501 Courtlandt Avenue in the Bronx:

After blowing the whistle on my principal and contacting the Daily News after he ordered teachers to falsify grades, I was hit with false charges and sent to the rubber room for the better part of a year. Although my case was dismissed in August the DOE refused to honor their agreement to make me an ATR. They have kept me in a rubber room at 1 Fordham Plaza. (Yes, there ARE still rubber rooms!) My agreement with the DOE was that I'd become an ATR. The DOE's agreement with the UFT stipulates that teachers like me should be sent back to our schools. None of this has happened. I was given no work for two weeks until I fell asleep on a couch. (I refused to sit in the corner as ordered. My lawyer says this is corporal punishment.)

Then, I was given a few menial tasks like collating papers and stuffing folders with papers. I refused, however, when the DOE stooped to ordering me to put paper clips on stacks of papers. (A job that can be done in seconds by the office coy machine.) I pointed out that my contract stipulated a particular job: ATR--a substitute teacher.

Last week, my supervisor yelled at me in front of other to "Get back to your seat, NOW"; and when she followed this up the next day by closing the distance between us when I said to her "I don't want to be verbally harassed again; please move away from me," I filed a complaint. The DOE refused to log-in the complaint, so I followed the UFT's advice and called the police.

The result: More retaliation. I have been suspended without pay just five weeks before going on terminal leave. The DOE cited no law or regulations allowing them to do this. Below is my letter to Michael Mulgrew regarding this matter. This suspension has citywide and possibly national implications.

If you think Mulgrew's reacting should be swift and strong contact him and tell him so.

Dear Michael Mulgrew,
I am involved in a situation that is so unprecedented it could put an end to due process as we know it. I have been suspended without pay even though the DOE failed to cite any law or regulation justifying such an action. I believe this is a test case. If the situation is allowed to stand then the DOE can argue in the future that the UFT has given tacit approval of this action and has set a precedent by failing to protest. I believe that we will see the 3020a process replaced by blanket, open-ended, unpaid suspensions.

I am asking you to personally handle my case. I am scheduled to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 PM with Bronx Special Rep. David Kazansky. Can you please attend?


Hal Lanse

'Rubber room' teachers in make-work jobs
By KEVIN FASICK and YOAV GONEN, NY POST, Posted: 3:27 AM, September 9, 2010

The city is transforming hundreds of high-priced, do-nothing teachers accused of wrongdoing into pricey paper pushers.

The teachers -- who for years spent their time dozing, playing games or doing zilch while earning full pay in infamous holding pens known as "rubber rooms" -- are now being dispersed to DOE offices around the city as they await disciplinary hearings.

"I'll be doing clerical work, which means they'll be paying me $100,049 to be making photocopies," said Hal Lanse, a Bronx teacher who learned yesterday that he's being assigned to a district office in The Bronx.

He said he was accused of sexually harassing a colleague but claims the accusation was payback for exposing grade-tampering.

"The rubber rooms are not being closed," said Lanse. "They are just being diffused around the city."

Under an agreement between the United Federation of Teachers and the schools chancellor reached in April, the bulk of educators charged with misbehavior are obligated to pitch in with busy-work.

That deal was also meant to expedite a disciplinary system that at times pulled more than 700 teachers out of the classroom for years on end.

"The agreement's working," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who put the current figure of reassigned teachers at about 400. "We've cut the number almost in half. Hopefully after we finish the backlog this will never be an issue again."

In the meantime, former Rikers Island teacher Vera Ifudu, 62, said she was told to report to Department of Education food services in Long Island City.

"Whatever they give me, I will try to make lemonade out of lemons," she said.

Ifudu, who was earning close to $80,000 last year, was sidelined for lateness, insubordination and misconduct, according to DOE officials.

She claims the misconduct charge stemmed from her giving prisoners paper masks to wear on Halloween.

"I miss the classroom and teaching, but I still have a job. I'm still being paid," she added. "Hopefully it is not just another rubber room."

A Department of Education spokeswoman emphasized that teachers who are being assigned to offices will all have individual work assignments.

"Whereas in a reassignment center they were doing nothing, they will now be given administrative work," she said. "A few educators could be assigned to the same room or conference room, but it's not the same as a rubber room."

1 comment:

What Goes Around... said...