Sunday, September 29, 2013
The DOE Sues The UFT Because There Are Not Enough Arbitrators For The 3020-a Teacher Panels To get rid of Everyone Quickly
New York Sues Teachers’ Union Over Deal on Disciplinary Hearings
From Betsy Combier, Editor: Now it happens that the NYC Department of Education is complaining that there are not enough arbitrators on the UFT/DOE Panels to decide the 400 cases waiting to go to 3020-a proceedings, and the culprit is none other than the UFT (United Federation of Teachers). What is ridiculous about this is that the DOE has been the party which has dumped so many good teachers into the "new" rubber rooms at such a fast rate and for, in many vases, absolutely no misconduct or incompetency, that there are not enough arbitrators to hear the cases. Why? No one is in charge. Anyone may charge or find "probable cause" at any time against anyone. And the UFT has stood aside and allowed this to happen. Moreover, the UFT arranges for teachers to have their "U" ratings changed to "S" ratings, so how valid are the rating sheets handed out at the end of the year, anyway? Finally, teachers or other tenured staff brought to 3020-a ("teacher trials") can try to settle, where they buy their jobs back for a couple of thousand dollars. False claims harm people, but hardly anyone cares. I do.
NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who allegedly oversees the Department of Education and the NYC public school system
New York Sues Teachers’ Union Over Deal on Disciplinary Hearings
By AL BAKER, NY TIMES
Three years ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City’s teachers’ union celebrated an agreement to end the use of “rubber rooms,” the much-ridiculed holding pens where teachers accused of wrongdoing or incompetence would report for years on end, doing no work but drawing full salaries. [The rubber rooms are now hidden inside schools, but still exist - Editor].
But on Friday, in a sign of just how poisoned his relationship with the union has become, Mr. Bloomberg used his radio show to announce that his administration had filed a lawsuit against the union, accusing it of shirking its part of the deal.
The 2010 agreement, which followed months of news articles that embarrassed the city and the union, closed down the rubber rooms and was to speed up the hearing process so teachers’ fates could be decided in a matter of months. But the lawsuit says the union, the United Federation of Teachers, has been dragging its feet in helping select arbitrators to hear the cases.
“They just keep delaying,” Mr. Bloomberg said to the radio program’s host, John Gambling.
“The backlog keeps getting bigger,” the mayor added. “And it just prevents having a fair hearing for teachers who should be cleared of any charges. It allows teachers who should not be in front of our kids through incompetence or inappropriate conduct to continue collecting a paycheck. The public is paying for all this.”
By the latest count, according to the lawsuit that was lodged on Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, there is a backlog of roughly 400 teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings, as well as 150 new cases since school began three weeks ago. Combined, that is about as many teachers as were in rubber rooms at the time of the 2010 deal. The union, meanwhile, said on Friday that the true backlog was only 52 teachers.
The rubber rooms have largely been done away with, with teachers now given administrative functions or nonclassroom duties while their cases are pending, though some have complained of make-work assignments barely better than no work at all. The part of the agreement now in dispute regards the hiring of arbitrators. To speed up the hearing process, the two sides would agree on a panel of 39 arbitrators, up from 23, but the city now says the union has been too slow to approve arbitrators’ names. In the 2011-12 school year, the two sides seated just 24 arbitrators, and last year 20, the suit said.
In a letter to the schools chancellor this month, Michael Mulgrew, president of the union, laid the blame on the city, saying the process of selecting arbitrators “would be expedited” if school officials proposed better candidates. He also said that fewer arbitrators would be needed if the city processed the cases more efficiently, and that the shortage would not be as bad had several arbitrators not left because the state had not paid them.
Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the New York State Education Department, acknowledged on Friday that the state was behind in payments, because of budgetary issues. “We have a set amount that we can spend,” Mr. Dunn said.
Going forward, Mr. Dunn said, the process for paying arbitrators will be “much smoother and better functioning than it had been.”
The relationship between the Bloomberg administration and the teachers’ unionhas taken on a more vitriolic tenor of late, with both sides describing hearing notes of personal acrimony creeping in between Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Mulgrew. The two clashed in January when their attempts to negotiate a new teacher evaluation system fell apart at the last minute. The city’s teachers have been without a labor contract since 2009, and like other labor leaders, Mr. Mulgrew appears to be hoping the next mayor is friendlier to municipal unions.
“It’s a shame the mayor is wasting public resources on this frivolous lawsuit,” Mr. Mulgrew said in a statement, “but we can all take comfort from the fact that Bloomberg will soon be only a bad memory to the people who care about schools.”
Jake Goldman, a mayoral spokesman, said: “This is not about politics. This is about who is standing up for New York City schoolchildren. We are going to keep doing, for the next 95 days, everything we can to continue to make these schools better and this is one of the ways we’re doing that.”
Kate Taylor contributed reporting.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 27, 2013
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the state for which Tom Dunn is an Education Department spokesman. It is New York, not New Jersey.
Teachers union refusing to assist with 400 misconduct cases
By Yoav Gonen
September 27, 2013 | 10:59am
UFT President Michael Mulgrew
The city’s public school system has a backlog of more than 400 teacher disciplinary cases because the teachers union is refusing to help appoint hearing officers as required, a new lawsuit brought by the city charges.
The foot-dragging by the United Federation of Teachers has led to the appointment of just 19 arbitrators to oversee teacher misconduct and incompetence cases – well shy of the minimum number of 39 agreed to back in 2010, the Manhattan court papers say.
“Year after year they keep delaying and the backlog keeps getting bigger,” Mayor Bloomberg said on his weekly WOR radio appearance Friday. “It prevents having a fair hearing for teachers who should be cleared of any charges, it allows teachers who should not be in front of our kids through incompetence or inappropriate conduct to continue collecting a paycheck (and) the public’s paying for all of this.”
The UFT and Department of Education agreed in 2010 to jointly appoint a panel of 39 arbitrators to expedite a severe backlog in disciplinary cases.
At the time, hundreds of teachers awaiting trial were paid to do nothing in detention centers throughout the city known derisively as “rubber rooms” – because teachers said they could bounce off the walls out of boredom.
Since then, however, there were only 24 arbitrators appointed in 2011-12, 20 in 2011-12 – and currently there are only 19, according to city officials.
“They’ve shown their true colors,” fumed Bloomberg. “We’ve got a small number of teachers who are not up to the job and should not be in front of kids, and they hurt the reputation of the vast majority of the teachers who are doing a spectacular job.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew responded by saying:
“How typical of Bloomberg. The administration mismanages the disciplinary process, and in its last days tries to blame someone else for it. It’s a shame the mayor is wasting public resources on this frivolous lawsuit, but we can all take comfort from the fact that Bloomberg will soon be only a bad memory to the people who care about schools.”