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Monday, November 3, 2014

ADVOCATZ Collaborates With 2014 Super Lawyers at Stagg, Terenzi, Confusione and Wabnik LLP For 3020-a Defense

I am so happy to have one of the attorneys we work with on 3020-a Arbitration hearings, Ms. Debra Wabnik, awarded her second "Super Lawyer" Award.

ADVOCATZ provides a thorough, collaborative defense for Respondent teachers and other NYC Department of Education personnel who are charged with misconduct or incompetency and brought to "trial" pursuant to Education Law 3020-a.

Arbitration is not a Court of record. You do not have to be a lawyer to work in arbitration, nor to represent/assist at arbitration in New York State. Several arbitrators on the NYC 3020-a Panel are not attorneys and at least one is not licensed to practice in New York State. 

ADVOCATZ' purpose is to stop and vacate the judgment of "substantiated" false claims by investigating agencies - OSI, SCI, OEO - and defend the legal and contractual rights of all who are brought to grievances, mediation, arbitration, settlement and any other administrative hearing . We help people understand who the people are, what the process is, and how an individual victimized by false claims can defend him or herself in the compulsory arbitration known as 3020-a. If you have been re-assigned from your duties, have taken PIP+, are a probationary staff member discontinued from service for no Just Cause, believe you are a whistleblower retaliated against in violation of your rights to speak out as a private citizen on a matter of public concern, and/or any person who believes that he or she has been falsely accused of incompetency or misconduct, email founder and Director Betsy Combier at

Congratulations, Debra and Stagg Terenzi!!!

Betsy Combier

Stagg and Wabnik Selected as 2014 Super Lawyers,Kloter Named a Rising Star

Garden City, NY  - Thomas Stagg, managing partner, and Debra Wabnik, partner, of Stagg, Terenzi, Confusione & Wabnik, LLP have been named New York Metro Super Lawyers for 2014. Each year, less than five percent of all attorneys in the state are selected for this prestigious honor. 

"This is the third consecutive Super Lawyers rating for Tom and the second consecutive rating for Debra," notes partner Ronald Terenzi. "Their achievements are a testament to our firm's experience and expertise." Earlier this year, Tom received Corporate INTL's Global Award for Commercial Lawyer of the Year in New York and Debra was named one of Long Island Pulse Magazine's 2014 "Top Legal Eagles." 

Also rated by Super Lawyers this year was STCW associate Owen Kloter, who was selected for the Rising Stars list. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less. "Owen's recognition as a Rising Star is a tribute to his dedication, talent and extraordinary work ethic, all of which help to strengthen us as a firm," said partner Lisa Confusione. "Owen's achievement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to maintaining the excellent legal reputation for which STCW is known."

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The multi-phased selection process includes a statewide survey, an independent research evaluation, and peer evaluations. The 2014 New York Metro Super Lawyers and New York Metro Rising Stars lists were published in a supplement to The New York Times, as well as the stand-alone New York Super Lawyers Magazine. 

A full-service law firm serving Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, municipalities, financial institutions and individuals, STCW practices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Practice areas include commercial and general liability litigation, appeals, bankruptcy and creditors' rights, foreclosure, banking and consumer credit litigation, labor and employment, securities law, municipal law and real estate. The firm has achieved the highest peer review rating by LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®, which rates legal ability and ethical standards; certain partners have earned "AV" Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings and have been included in New York Magazine's annual list of Top Rated Lawyers. 

Please contact Thomas Stagg at (516) 812-4500 or, or for further information. 

Great Neck Teacher Sheri Lederman Sues For Getting A Rating of "Ineffective"

Valarie Strauss
Answer Sheet

High-achieving teacher sues state over evaluation labeling her ‘ineffective’

 October 31 
Sheri G. Lederman has been teaching for 17 years as a fourth-grade teacher  in New York’s Great Neck Public School district. Her students consistently  outperform state averages on math and English standardized tests, and  Thomas Dolan, the superintendent of Great Neck schools, signed an affidavit saying “her record is flawless” and that “she is highly regarded as an educator.”
Sheri Lederman
Yet somehow, when Lederman received her 2013-14 evaluation, which is based in part on student standardized test scores, she was rated as “ineffective.” Now she has sued state officials over the method they used to make this determination in an action that could affect New York’s controversial teacher evaluation system.
How is it that a teacher known for excellence could be rated “ineffective”?
The convoluted statistical model that the state uses to evaluate how much a teacher “contributed” to students’ test scores awarded her only one out of 20 possible points. These ratings affect a teacher’s reputation and at some point are supposed to be used to determine a teacher’s pay and even job status.
The evaluation method, known as value-added modeling, or VAM, purports to be able to predict through a complicated computer model how students with similar characteristics are supposed to perform on the exams — and how much growth they are supposed to show over time — and then rate teachers on how much their students compare to the theoretical students. New York is just one of the many states where VAM is one of the chief components used to evaluate teachers.
If it sounds as if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, that’s because it doesn’t. Testing experts have for years now been warning school reformers that efforts to evaluate teachers using VAM are not reliable or valid. But reformers, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have embraced the method as a “data-driven” evaluation solution championed by some economists. Earlier this year, the American Statistical Association issued a report slamming the use of VAM for teacher evaluation, saying in part:
*VAMs are generally based on standardized test scores and do not directly measure potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes.
*VAMs typically measure correlation, not causation: Effects – positive or negative – attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in the model.
 Lederman filed her lawsuit against New York State Education Commissioner John King Jr., Assistant Commissioner Candace H. Shyer and the Office of State Assessment of the New York State Education Department, challenging the rationality of the VAM model being used to evaluate her and, by extension, other teachers. The suit alleges that  the New York State Growth Measures “actually punishes excellence in education through a statistical black box which no rational educator or fact finder could see as fair, accurate or reliable.”
The lawsuit shows that Lederman’s students traditionally perform much higher on math and English Language Arts standardized tests than average fourth-grade classes in the state. In 2012-13, 68.75 percent of her students met or exceeded state standards in both English and math. She was labeled “effective” that year. In 2013-14, her students’ test results were very similar but she was rated “ineffective.”  The lawsuit says:
This simply makes no sense, both as a matter of statistics and as a matter of rating teachers based upon slight changes in student performance from year to year.
Superintendent Dolan supported Lederman, saying in an affidavit:
As superintendent of the GNPS, I have personally known Dr. Lederman for approximately 4 years. I have had the opportunity to meet with her personally. I have also reviewed her record of teaching, particularly the performance of her students on New York State assessment tests. I can personally attest that she is highly regarded as an educator by the administration of GNPS. Her classroom observations have consistently identified her as an exceptional educator. She is widely regarded in the GNPS as someone who brings out the best in her students. She has taught for seventeen (17) years in the GNPS and her record is flawless.
Sharon Fougner, the principal at  Elizabeth M. Baker Elementary School, where Lederman teaches, signed an affidavit saying that she believes the awarding of 1 out of 20 possible points to Lederman under VAM is”arbitrary and capricious” and agreed with Dolan that Lederman is an excellent teacher.
Still, the state of New York says she is “ineffective,” and offers a teacher no way to appeal the result.
The lawsuit will be worth watching because it is taking on the entire notion of VAM. If VAM were to fall in New York, more legal challenges would be likely in other states.
 (Correction: Earlier version said in one place that superintendent called Lederman an administrator. He didn’t. He called her an educator.)