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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Betsy Combier Files a Freedom of Information Request to Obtain the Information Given Out At The NYC DOE February 24, 2015 Secret Meeting on 3020-a Hearings

On February 24, 2015, the New York City Department of Education held a mandatory meeting at Tweed for all arbitrators and all NYSUT and Department of Education attorneys who work on 3020-a cases in NYC.

New rules on how to proceed with 3020-a arbitration in NYC were discussed.
Among those rules, which have been told to me by 5 arbitrators, are:

1. speed up the cases by doing closing quickly the last day of testimony - do not allow any time for the Respondent to get the Respondent's transcripts.

2. No character witnesses

3. Only 10 minutes for a break off the record to create questions for a witness, not 20 as stated in the former agreement between the UFT and DOE.

4. allow no time after the last witness' testimony to make closing arguments, limit closing arguments to the specifications.

5. If a party wants to go off the record, the reason and time off the record must be stated on the record.

There are many violations of arbitration, law, and policy in New York City's 3020-a which harm Respondents if you do not know where the hidden obstacles are. I dont say this to urge charged employees to settle, I am posting my comments to show you what a secret minefield has been created that anyone can overcome, if the right defense is presented. No arbitrator wants his or her name in a lawsuit or in a newspaper or blog, and I never write about any person while they are going through a 3020-a. After the hearing, as a reporter, if there has been any wrong-doing or any violation of protected rights, I will post here.

One of my goals is to expose all the prejudicial and illegal policies which diminish and harm tenured DOE employees who are brought to 3020-a either for misconduct or incompetency.

I asked a lawyer that works with me on 3020-a to send the hosts of this meeting, Adam Ross, lawyer for the UFT, Claude Hersh (NYSUT NYC) and General Counsel Courtenaye Jackson-Chase, an email, asking to be invited as a private attorney who works on 3020-a. We were going to invite all private attorneys. Here is Claude Hersh's response::

From: Claude Hersh []
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: Meeting February 24th

Adam Ross, the General Counsel of the UFT, and Courtenaye Jackson-Chase, the General Counsel of the DOE, are responsible for organizing the meeting.  They are aware of your request.
Claude I. Hersh

Thank you,

Assistant General Counsel
New York State United Teachers
52 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10004

Here is Courtenaye's response:

From: Jackson-Chase Courtenaye [mailto:]
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 10:37 AM
To:  Lamont Naeemah; Brantley Laura; DaCosta Dennis;; Adam Ross
Subject: RE: Meeting February 24th
Good morning ,
Unfortunately we have limited space for the meeting on the 24th, but we will hold a briefing for private attorneys in the near future.
Thank you for writing,
Courtenaye Jackson-Chase

We never heard from her again, despite a follow-up email. So I filed a Freedom of Information request:

Betsy Combier, Editor / Reporter 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        March 17, 2015

 Mr. Joseph A. Baranello
Central Records Access Officer
Office of the General Counsel
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mr. Baranello:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, I hereby request to receive E-mail copies of:

1) any and all documents, letters, emails, agendas, videos, tapes, or any communications relating to invitations to the plenary meeting at Tweed on February 24, 2015 at 4:00PM.

2) All invitees to the February 24, 2015 meeting.

3)  All agendas, speakers and hosts of the February 24th 2015 4PM meeting at Tweed.

4) any and all written or recorded discussions, emails, notes, and correspondence with any participant at the meeting to/from any other participant who attended this 4PM meeting or attended another meeting either before or after the 4PM meeting.

5) any and all policy statements, directives, procedures or other information given out to any and all attending the meeting(s) at Tweed concerning this feb. 24th meeting.

If the records have been removed from their original locations, please cause a diligent search to be conducted of all appropriate file rooms and storage facilities.

If any record has been redacted, please identify which categories of information have been redacted, and cite the relevant statutory exemption(s).

If you have any questions relating to the specific record(s) or portion(s) being sought, please phone me at 212-794-8902 so that we may discuss them.



As you know, the Freedom of Information Law requires that an agency respond to a request within five business days of receipt of a request.  Therefore, I would appreciate a response as soon as possible and look forward to hearing from you shortly.  If for any reason any portion of my request is denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed.


                                                                   Betsy Combier
David never received any further information. But I received the acknowledgement below of my FOIL request from:

Alba Miosotis

AttachmentsMar 25 (6 days ago)
to me, Baranello, Beaufils
Ms. Combier,
Attached please find a letter concerning above-referenced FOIL request.
Mio Alba
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street,
New York, N.Y. 10007
 and signed by the Records Access Officer, Joseph Baranello.

$29.95/hour is the lowest salary at Tweed? To download emails and redact?

Joseph Baranello is the very same person who sent angry emails out to his boss, Courtenaye Jackson-Chase, when I posted his facebook page and his improper, disrespectful comments about Santacon (see here as well) and the Jewish celebration of sukkot. So sad, that the FOIL office has to belittle people and is protected by the massive business known as the Department of Education. Joe should be reported to the NYC Bar.

Stay tuned.

Joseph Baranello