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Friday, October 11, 2013

Shame On You, Campbell Brown

Paul Zonderman
I am so saddened by Ms. Campbell Brown's lack of integrity as a journalist, clearly shown by the lack of facts in her article below. First, several Arbitrators mentioned, Howard Edelman and Paul Zonderman, are no longer on the UFT-DOE rotating Panel, and have not been actively involved in the 3020-a process in NYC for several years. She says that Howard Edelman is not well known. Now, that's a false statement right there. Howard is a very well known arbitrator, inside NYC and throughout the State. Paul is, as well. It is shocking that Ms. Brown bought into the DOE's shpeel (?spelling?) of how "bad" they were while on the panel, while both had their share of terminations but couldnt stand the mess of process (this comes from a source). Didnt you at least go to Google for information, Ms. Campbell?

The problem Ms. Brown has, is she did not look at cases, but simply passed on the public relations general statement that all arbitrators are not doing their jobs, namely terminating "bad" teachers and especially those who sexually abuse students.

This is where Ms. Brown fails. Sure, some arbitrators are hired to fire - like Eleanor Elovich Glanstein and her sidekicks Nancy Ryan and NYSUT Attorney Steve Friedman (Eleanor Glanstein is now no longer on the panel); Lana Flame, now no longer on the panel - and others who I will be writing about soon. But if an arbitrator shows bias and decides to take allegations of sexual abuse and make these allegations of touching, kissing, etc. into "facts" without any supporting proof, then they can, and hopefully will, be brought to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee and shown the door. This may be the reason Ms. Glanstein is no longer on the panel, as I personally know three former victims who had her at their 3020-a and filed complaints against her.

As for Arbitrator John Woods, of NS&J in Maryland, and his partner in crime ATU Attorney Michael Francis, I have never, in my 12 years of participating in 3020-a hearings, seen two people who insult, belittle and verbally abuse witnesses and people who oppose them as much as these two. I will write further about a case that Woods just decided, in the near future.

The contact information for Hearing Officer Woods is:
John Woods, Esq.
NS&J Advisory Group
5430 Lynx Lane, Suite 217
Columbia, MD 21044
Email: JWoods@nsandLcom
Tel: 202-421-1881

The attorney for the Department is Michael Francis. Mr. Francis may be reached at :
Administrative Trials Unit
NYC Department ofEducation
49-51 Chambers Street, Room 604
New York, New York 10007
Tel: (212) 374-2498
Fax: (212) 374-1074

Dont let the bio below sway you, John Woods is not a neutral, and in my opinion, should leave arbitration, negotiation and mediation to other people. Also in my opinion, Attorney Michael Francis should be let go. He threatens and retaliates against anyone he believes is impeding him in any way.He needs anger management big time. Threatening witnesses whose testimony he doesn't like is not proper, and makes the ATU look bad.

About the Ombuds

John L. Woods, Jr.

John L. Woods, Jr. is an experienced Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioner in the areas of labor, employment, business, and securities. Prior to joining Ramapo College, John served as the Chief Mediator and head of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division for a United States Federal Government Agency. He also served as a Supervisory Federal Investigator during his tenure with the U.S. Federal Government. John currently serves as a mediator, arbitrator, and/or conciliator for the U.S. Federal Government, the State of Maryland, the Better Business Bureau, the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce, and the International Chamber of Commerce.
John’s International ADR experience includes providing training and consulting services in Jamaica (W.I.), Trinidad and Tobago (W.I.), the Western Sahara, Morocco, and Spain. He is currently an adjunct professor and frequently writes and speaks on issues concerning labor, employment, organizational development, conflict management and dispute resolution.
John received a Bachelors Degree from the State University of New York at Albany, a Masters Degree from New York University, and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Howard University School of Law.

So, what Campbell Brown is urging the public to advocate for is the Department of Education's edict: an allegation must be considered a "fact" if brought to 3020-a by a Principal, AP, or someone hired by the DOE to fire somebody..

Then, it is the job of the Respondent's legal representative(s) to prove the Respondent innocent. Yes, you got that right. The way that the UFT and DOE panel is set up, a teacher or employee brought to 3020-a is guilty when he or she enters the door. The process allows this person to fight this by proving that he or she is innocent, but if the fight is not 100%, the person remains guilty, and gets punished for his or her "crime", according to the specifications.

By the way, most people know that any person who is brought to 3020-a can have anyone represent him or her, and can hire a non-attorney to assist him/her, or do the job by him/herself. At 3020-a you do not have to use an attorney.

Ms. Campbell wants the fight against the allegations to be non-existant, and have anyone brought to 3020-a remain guilty of the allegations/facts as charged. Then, there is no sense in hiring arbitrators and paying $1400/day, so just do away with 3020-a hearings and fire anyone accused of anything, the minute an "investigator" substantiates the charge. The end of tenure rights.

Shame on you, Campbell Brown!

Betsy Combier

Law Department Directory

Arbitrators protect pervert teachers
by Campbell Brown
Howard Edelman isn’t well known in the education community. He should be: He has unilateral authority to change how the city Department of Education spends millions of 
Edelman is an arbitrator. When DOE moves to terminate a teacher for misconduct or incompetence, he decides whether the teacher stays or goes. And, if it’s “stay,” what the penalty should be.
Like his fellow arbitrators, Edelman’s judgment is final. (The city can appeal in court, but judges are loath to overturn arbitration decisions.)
And, like too many other arbitrators, Edelman makes it a priority to find ways to keep teachers in classrooms, with little apparent consideration of the impact on schools or students.
This is most evident, and troubling, in sexual misconduct cases.
In a breakthrough 2005 agreement, the union and DOE inserted language into the teachers contract stipulating “a mandatory penalty of discharge” to any union member “found by a hearing officer to have engaged in sexual misconduct.”
The contract defined sexual misconduct as including: “sexual touching, serious or repeated verbal abuse (as defined in Chancellor’s Regulations) of a sexual nature, action that could reasonably be interpreted as soliciting a sexual relationship, possession or use of illegal child pornography” as well as action that constitutes criminal conduct.
Union leaders often call this a “zero tolerance” policy. Problem is, Howard Edelman and his colleagues won’t enforce it. They repeatedly find that some sexual conduct by teachers is permissible.
In 2008, Edelman found that a teacher who rubbed the back and neck of a student in an empty classroom while speaking in threatening sexual innuendo — “I can make you do things you don’t want to do” — should get a mere two-month fine. The teacher had twice before been cited for improper touching.
Edelman’s terse rationale: “A teacher rubbed a student’s back. He did not have sex with the student or ask the student to have sex with him.”
In 2010, Edelman found that another serial abuser should be returned to the classroom after touching the bare shoulders and neck of a student while telling her she could strip for him.
The teacher “was not really soliciting sex from but was engaging in sexual banter,” with the student, he found — even though there is no precedent or protection in the contract for “sexual banter.”
He also found a way to forgive the use of child porn, calling a teacher’s secret agreement to be sent nude photos of a student “a lapse in judgment . . . [that] does not justify upholding his termination, I am convinced.” The contract explicitly says otherwise.
Yet Edelman is no anomaly. Many other arbitrators normalize sexual behavior or invent standards to arrive at decisions that flout zero tolerance.
Paul Zonderman has leniently arbitrated many misconduct cases. In one, he found that a special-education teacher touched boys so often that his actions “at worst, suggest pedophilia.” Yet Zonderman ordered nothing more than a reprimand.
Eric Lawson found that a Manhattan 6th-grade teacher repeatedly hugged female students, touched a student’s breast and leg and made sexually suggestive remarks to several students. He described the teacher as “unrepentant, claiming to be a victim” and said he didn’t deserve to keep his job “as long as he insists upon his innocence.”
Yet Lawson sent him back to the classroom anyway, ordering a six-month suspension and mandatory therapy.
In a distasteful recent case, a Bronx high-school teacher repeatedly called a large-breasted student “watermelon girl” and told her, if he felt she was dressed inappropriately, to “put your melons away” and “cover up your melons.” He called other female students “Wonder Woman,” “Chocolate Girl,” and “Dark Chocolate,” purportedly to encourage them. There is no evidence that he used nicknames to encourage male students.
The arbitrator, John Woods, said the teacher’s “unwelcome communication of a sexual nature is prohibited. However, termination is not the appropriate penalty in this case.” In fact, prohibited sexual communications require termination under the contract. Yet Woods ordered a penalty of just a week without pay.
With these and other arbitrators minimizing the sexual behavior of accused teachers with their students, the DOE has had little success in terminating teachers accused of violating the 2005 provision. Only about a quarter of those for whom probable cause of sexual misconduct has been found have lost their jobs.
In the other cases, an arbitrator has sided with a serial molester over the isolated, terrified child he threatens. And with a profane, sexualizing bully over the child he singles out as “watermelon girl.”
The union needs to stop claiming there’s a zero-tolerance policy for teacher sexual abuse. The arbitrators disagree.
Campbell Brown is the founder of the Parents Transparency Project and a former anchor for NBC and CNN.

Lorna Stremcha And Her Rubber Room Fight In Montana

One woman’s legal fight against workplace bullying

By Lorna Stremcha
My book is now in the hands of editors and I’m hoping it will be on bookshelves soon. It describes what happens when bureaucratic bullies try to cover up, intimidate and harass a tenured school teacher. Following is an edited excerpt from “Sins of Our Schools: After the Bell Rings” that describes what it sometimes takes to fight bullies in
powerful positions.
Looking at all the boxes stacked in my basement, I still wonder how I survived four years of legal wrangling. Many attorneys feel that this part of the law is all a “game”. It wasn’t a game to me. It was a pursuit of justice. Thanks to my family and faith, we survived it all.
workplace bullying legal briefs
More than 100,000 pages of legal briefs & documentation
My book only described some of the more important events that happened during this four- year period. There is no way I could convey the mind numbing details that dominated every day of my life.
The administration’s response to my complaint before the Montana Human Rights Commission eventually caused me to pursue multiple legal avenues. I had to file specific grievances against the school, additional complaints before the Montana Human Rights Commission, and finally State and Federal lawsuits. That’s the way the system works. It’s difficult and complicated. When dealing with our public schools, you can’t just file a lawsuit. There is formula for everything.
In today’s world of high self-esteem, it’s sometimes difficult to determine when (and if) you have a case. Many of us don’t take criticism well and are very thin-skinned. The first step I recommend is to take a good look within. Ask yourself if your boss or coworker is truly a bully, or if he/she is offering what they think might be constructive criticism about your work or professional abilities.
Study numerous books and articles concerning bullying behavior. Make some lists and determine if you are truly the target of a bully. If that is the case, your next decision is whether or not it’s worth it to stay in that toxic environment. Would you and your family be better off if you left and found another job? If that’s the case, move on. If you are in a job that you love and want to stay, then it’s time to fight.
Learn about the laws in your state. There are numerous laws on the books about various kinds of harassment. In many states the law hasn’t caught up with the bully. It is critical to build a case by documenting everything.
Journals and notebooks are valuable tools. Even events that might seem unimportant now could become critical in a legal action. When keeping records remember who, what, when, where, and how of reporting. Dates are especially important.
Keep all your documentation in a safe place and keep it organized from the start. Never give anyone an original. Make copies and keep originals and copies in separate locations.
Speak out! Tell others what is happening. If you are fortunate enough to have a trusted friend or coworker ask them to write down their impressions. If others have witnessed events that you describe in your journal, ask them to sign and date the documents.
Remember the human resources person has the same employer as you do. It’s only natural that their first loyalty will be to the source of their paycheck. Do not consider them a friend who is there to listen, comfort, and console. In this case try to leave your emotions at the door and discuss only the events in question. Be brief and to the point. Not everyone will believe you. No matter what you say, many will choose to believe those in authority.
Know the contents of your collective bargaining contract. If your employer has a list of employee rights, get and keep a copy. Ask for your personnel file and insist that they provide the entire file, not selected pages. Check the file on a regular basis. Make copies each time.
Even though it seems futile, continue to scrupulously follow company policy. Use the state and federal laws that pertain to employee rights. If you don’t know the laws, find someone that does. Work with them. Obtain legal counsel before filing any complaint.
Before hiring an attorney evaluate your financial situation. Almost every legal battle costs more and takes longer than anticipated. Ask yourself if this case is so important that you are willing to mortgage your house, dip into the children’s college fund, and take every dollar from the savings account in order to possibly obtain satisfaction and justice. There are some legal aid organizations that might be willing to help, in certain situations, but the sad financial fact is that you will be on your own.
Once you decide to fight here are some things you need to know:
  • Know that your battle will be long and arduous.
  • Know you will have enemies.
  • Know that some friends will become enemies.
  • Know you are not crazy.
  • Know you will feel alone, even when the room is full.
Above all, take comfort in your friends and your family. They will provide security and strength in what will probably be a long journey. It won’t be easy. If you are following the right path, you will hopefully reach a safe end to the journey.
Working with my attorneys I learned there are different components todiscrimination, hostile work environment, workplace bullying, and sexual harassment cases. The information I provide is based on my experience. Again, I encourage you to seek legal counsel. Find someone experienced in employment law.
In some states there are no laws concerning bullying. You must learn the language of your laws and find the best tools with which to fight your own case. It might be age discrimination, sexual harassment, or a hostile workplace environment. Sadly, just because you have been bullied it might not mean you have a legal case.
Sexual harassment can be the result of a single incident. Individual incidents of bullying tend to be trivial and often are not enough to merit disciplinary or grievance action. Bullying is an accumulation of small incidents which slowly grow over a long period. Bullying occurs usually, but not always, when one person (or many persons) in positions of power or authority feels threatened by another person or subordinate that displays qualities or abilities which the bully believes he/she can never possess.
Workplace bullying is the repeated mistreatment of one employee targeted by one or more employees with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation, and sabotage of performance. Bullying crosses the boundaries of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age. Anyone can be a bully and anyone can be bullied. Those who are bullied often find themselves with little, if any, support. If it goes on long enough, job performance suffers and that may often lead to job loss.
Bullies prey on those weaker than themselves. Often their targets are employees under their supervision. That makes it easy for them. Their goal is simple: to make everyone around them look bad while they look good.
We can all recognize a bully. I have described several in my book. The Internet is full of discussions concerning this problem. Always remember it is up to you to prove that you are being bullied.
Lorna Stremcha is the author of, Lose the Baggage, Lose the Weight…a woman-to-woman recipe for life, an award winning teacher, an advocate against school and workplace bullying, a listed speaker for Bullying Police USA and is one of the first thirteen individuals to co-author the healthy work place bullying act in the United States. Today Lorna shares her life lessons with others in hopes of helping them live a healthier life after bullying and sexual harassment. Lorna’s second book, Sins of Our Schools: After the Bell Rings is set to be released soon.

NYC Educator on The UFT and Teacher Evaluations, Today

Thursday, October 10, 2013

UFT Moratorium--Too Little Too Late


It's fairly amazing to see Gotham Schools write that "the teachers union is already hoping to slow things down."  While it's true this is the first year junk science evaluation is officially in place, the fact is UFT officials were party to the law that mandated them. UFT supported it then, supported it through negotiations, and continued to support it when it was clear Reformy John King would make all decisions about it. In fact, UFT sources called people ignorant for objecting to King John's fiat, suggesting they didn't understand negotiation.

Unlike Gotham Schools, some of us have an attention span of years rather than weeks. We remember the selling point when this first surfaced. UFT bigshots said junk science only counted for 40%, while in other states it counted 50 or more. They neglected to point out that if you happen to fail the junk science portion it becomes 100%, and you're facing unemployment if it should happen the following year. Even when that became clear, UFT supported it.

In fact, UFT still supports junk science evaluations. UFT also supports Common Core, though it's never been field tested or proven valid anywhere. The sole objection UFT makes is that it ought not to be used to make high stakes decisions since there is not much curriculum available. While there's sense to that argument, it's pretty much a band-aid on the underlying issue. In fact, high stakes testing is a failed enterprise, unless you're looking to enrich the likes of Eva Moskowitz and Rupert Murdoch. The primary reason kids fail tests is neither because their schools are awful or their teachers are incompetent. The primary reasons they fail are that they are mired in poverty, unable to use English, or learning disabled one way or another.

Yet UFT and AFT have played along with the fiction that our teachers and schools are awful, and have collaborated to bring mayoral control, junk science evaluations, and neighborhood-killing school closures all over the country. UFT has supported charter schools, which are not generally little enterprises to offer enrichment to needy children. More often, they're investments for people who are not needy in the least.

Several teachers today approached me with comments about their young children, who were coming home only to spend hours with homework. One told me his kid, who usually loved to read, was beginning to hate it. Another told me her second grade son was doing algebra already, and that she'd surreptitiously entered her classroom and photographed every page of his English and math books to be able to hep him. This is simply unconscionable, and it's occurring in schools that actually have curriculum in place.

While a delay is something I support, it's only a band-aid. That's not optimal treatment for a cancer. If we are to support teachers, to support neighborhood schools, to support the students it's our job to serve, we must get back to teaching and remove high stakes. It would be one thing if they were proven to work, but that's not the case in Common Core. In fact, pretty much every other facet of corporate reform has been proven not to work.

So while this step won't hurt, it's time for activists to stand up and demand research-based practices. It's time for us to demand practices that are not based on ignoring root factors like poverty. It's time to demand practices designed to do something other than enrich Rupert Murdoch and his BFFs.

In fact, it's time to demand we reject all high stakes measures,and that we focus on helping neighborhoods and children rather than labeling them failures. Because make no mistake, that's precisely what school closures and Common Core are designed to do.

Despite all the talk about working hand in hand with the likes of Bill Gates, he's not our partner. The neighborhoods and children we serve are our partners, and we must focus on them. They don't need a band-aid solution, and neither do we. We need to reject junk science outright. We need to reject experimentation with untested arbitrary mandates on America's children. We need to tell Unity-New Action that working teachers are tired of appeasement, semantics, and waiting games

Nothing less makes any sense at all.