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Sunday, October 31, 2010

3020-a, NYSUT, and NYS Social Services Law 419

In the discussion of wrong-doing by Mike Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and Mike Mulgrew (and, of course, not keeping me at the UFT to pursue the Teacher Advocacy Initiative that I presented to you), there has not been adequate discussion of the malpractice of NYSUT as the Attorneys do not adequately defend their clients, at least in the New York City 3020-a.

Full disclosure: over the past 7 years I have attended 3020-a hearings as a member of the public, and I have met several NYSUT Attorneys who I like personally. My reporting on the process that is used at 3020-a should not be seen as a personal attack on any NYSUT Attorney, as many of the NYSUT Attorneys are very nice people. My writing about the 3020-a process focuses on injustice, wherever and whoever carries this forward. In some instances I specifically point to what I consider a pattern and practice of 'misconduct', as in the cases of Melinda Gordon and Mitch Rubenstein, and I will continue to report on what I consider inappropriate behavior of any hired person, NYSUT, NYC DOE, CSA member, it doesn't matter. Hey, this is my blog, after all. I document what I see, hear and read.

One of the reasons why I have volunteered seven years of my life to observing 3020-a hearings (teachers brought to 3020-a are entitled to an open and public hearing under the contract) is to see what defense NYSUT provides to random and arbitrary charges against tenured personnel. The defense is seldom adequate.

I'll give you an example of what I mean:
Teachers often are charged with misconduct that stems from their whistleblowing some act of a principal, such as abuse of a student in the school, theft of PTA money, etc. The cases of David Pakter and Hipolito Colon are clearly whistleblower retaliation cases.

NYSUT attorneys do not bring up all the misconduct of a principal/assistant principal but defend the client based upon the act charged, not what else may be going on, like child abuse, theft, etc. by the principal/AP. This leaves the arbitrator to rule that the principal has no motive to target the teacher/respondent, and then will substantiate the charge against the teacher/respondent. I do not know of an instance where the assigned NYSUT Attorney defended the actions of the client in reporting a principal by using New York State Social Services Law 419.

 Here is the relevant clause in NYS Social Services Law 419:

"Legal Protections for Mandated Reporters: What Protection or Liability Do I Have?

Source Confidentiality

The Social Service Law provides confidentiality for mandated reporters and all sources of child abuse and maltreatment reports. OCFS and local CPS are not permitted to release to the subject of the report any data that would identify the source of a report unless the source has given written permission to do so. Information regarding the source of the report may be shared with court officials, police, and district attorneys but only in certain circumstances.

Immunity from Liability

If a mandated reporter makes a report with earnest concern for the welfare of a child, he or she is immune from any criminal or civil liability that might result. This is referred to a making a report in "good faith".

Penalties for Failure to Report

Anyone who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment - and fails to do so - could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and subject to criminal penalties. Further, mandated reporters can be sued in a civil court for monetary damages for any harm caused by the mandated reporter's failure to make the report to the SCR.

Therefore if you are a mandated reporter and you know of misconduct of a principal/AP, report it, but NOT to OSI or SCI, the two agencies that will charge you for revealing what is going on at the school and cover up what you have reported. If you see child abuse or suspect it, report this to your principal as you are mandated to do, but also secretly report this to the State Agencies cited above.

Document your report with all the information sent by email, hard copy, or recorded by you (if it is a telephone call). You should tape all your conversations with the DOE or OSI, SCI investigators. In New York State you can secretly record anyone with whom you are in a conversation. Keep copies of everything.

Hope I've scared you enough.

Happy Halloween everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Betsy Combier

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