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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The 3020-a Arbitration Newswire: Digging Up The Garbage on the Rubber Room

The Rubber Room - West 125th Street
Please read my first post on the Rubber Rooms and 3020-a Arbitration, " Vouchers Paid to Arbitrators" to get a little bit of the background behind the scam of the rubber room process put into place by the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE)  AND the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). Is this a conspiracy of harm? I believe so.

The Rubber Room - 333 7th Avenue
My blog posts are based upon the idea that the 'rubber rooms' are not rooms, but a process that unfairly, arbitrarily and maliciously targets employees of the New York City DOE for any reason someone in power can think of, and ends up in some kind of career destroying penalty without any accountability for the person who is making the allegations. So, anyone can make allegations about a person and hope that "legal" at the DOE will prove these opinions are true - often without any facts, and terminate the target without holding the person who made the accusations in the first place accountable for any lies. And so it goes.

The rubber room process could never have been set up without a lethal partnership or conspiracy where we see the NYC DOE and the UFT/NYSUT getting along by going along. It's all about politics, money, and control, and how collective bargaining rights can be denied to stakeholders who are forced into paying dues to a union that ignores members' rights to benefit management's pocketbook.

Rubber rooms still exist, although hidden, and the Rubber Room process of charging teachers unfairly continues.

Mayor Bloomberg rented the warehouses in each Borough of NYC (Manhattan and Brooklyn had 2 each) called the rubber rooms starting in or about 2003 (the RR in the basement of 335 Park Place started in 2008). The purpose was to put the prisoners of whim, the DOE employees who were unwanted by a principal for any reason, outside of the school so that the administrators could speak to the students, parents, teachers, counselors, or whomever, freely without the unwanted employee interfering or finding out who was talking to whom. The fix was in.
Rubber Room 335 Park Place, basement

When a principal decides that an employee in the school must go, he/she contacts the Gotcha Squad, who creates the Technical Assistance Conference memos (TAC) gathered from all sources to charge the employee. I filed a Freedom of Information request to get the TAC memos filed by the former chief of the 3020-a termination hearings, Florrie Chapin.

Below is the announcement of the 'new' process to get rid of unwanted education personnel:


To:       Principals
From:   Dan Weisberg, Chief Executive, Labor Policy and Implementation; Michael Best, General Counsel
Date:    November 14, 2007
Re:       Labor Support Unit/Peer Intervention-Plus Program/Teacher Performance Unit

I.              Introduction

This memo provides details on the new supports being made available to principals to help you address already-tenured teachers with performance problems by supporting them to substantially improve the quality of their teaching, or, if this is not successful, by removing them. 

  • These supports are being provided centrally without cost to schools.  Principals will not have to find funds within their school budgets in order to access these services, even where they do so repeatedly.

  • Principals have full discretion to decide whether to use these supports or not.  While we encourage those of you with struggling tenured teachers to use these resources, as we believe it will relieve some of the burden on you and will provide you with the guidance you need, if you feel you do not need the help, then you are under no obligation to use these services.

  • These supports are intended to provide guidance for you and reduce the burden on those principals seeking to obtain improvement from poorly-performing tenured teachers. Or, if such efforts are unsuccessful, these services will help you to effectively navigate the evaluation and discipline process.  The support personnel are not there to critique or evaluate the work of principals, nor are they meant to create additional work for you. 

  • While we will likely seek more formal feedback later in the year, we would appreciate any feedback you have on the new supports, positive and especially negative, by e-mail to

II.             Labor Support Unit (LSU)

The new Labor Support Unit (LSU) is staffed by experienced school supervisors, most of whom are retired NYC public school principals.  Their mission is to provide the first line of support to principals addressing poorly-performing tenured teachers.  Their primary responsibilities are: to provide guidance and general assistance to principals in developing support programs for ineffective tenured teachers and, where necessary, guidance on technical evaluation and discipline issues; to help organize documentation of performance problems; to conduct additional observations of teachers upon request of the principal; and to coordinate with the Peer Intervention-Plus (PIP+) Program and Teacher Performance Unit, as well as Human Resources and ISC counsel, on your behalf. 

LSU staff will be assigned to individual schools, so you will be able to work with one member of the LSU continuously. The LSU staffer will meet with you initially to obtain background information about the teacher or teachers and to review documentation.  Over the following several weeks, the LSU staffer will follow up with you to recommend an action plan for obtaining significant improvement from the teacher(s).  The LSU staffer will then help you to implement the action and assess its effectiveness.  If the teacher(s) do not show significant improvement, the LSU staffer will work with you to determine whether and at what point to seek disciplinary action against the teacher(s) and will, along with your attorney from the Teacher Performance Unit, guide you through the disciplinary process.

You may access the LSU in two ways: LSU staff will be contacting principals with tenured teachers with one or more unsatisfactory ratings to offer assistance.  Or, you may request assistance from an LSU staffer by completing and submitting this one-page form [LSU Request} and an LSU representative will contact you within five (5) days of receipt of the form requesting assistance.

III.            Peer Intervention-Plus (PIP+) Program

The new Peer Intervention-Plus (PIP+) Program was jointly agreed to by the DOE and UFT as part of the 2006 contract between the parties.  Under this agreement, the DOE and UFT have jointly selected an outside vendor, RMC Research Corporation, a national company with expertise in professional development, to assist with this important initiative. The project manager for the PIP+ is Dr. Sandra Kase, who previously held several senior positions at the DOE and the Board of Education, among them Superintendent of the Chancellor’s District. 

The PIP+ is, pursuant to the agreement between the DOE and UFT, targeted specifically at tenured teachers in danger of receiving disciplinary charges for incompetence.  Principals will have the option of inviting teachers in this category to participate in the program.  (If teachers decline the offer of assistance, this fact is admissible in disciplinary hearings.)  If they accept, RMC will assign an expert classroom teacher to work as a peer intervener with the struggling teacher for a period of approximately three months.  (During this time, school supervisors will be fully free to continue to observe and evaluate the struggling teacher.) 

The Peer Interveners will be neither UFT members nor employees of the DOE.  Their charge will be to develop a plan for improvement for the struggling teacher but also to provide a completely objective written evaluation of the teacher’s competence.  The Peer Interveners will also work with you during the process to get your input on the weaknesses and improvement of the participating teacher.  Because this evaluation will be admissible at disciplinary hearings, in the event the teacher does not improve and the Peer Intervener finds the teacher to be incompetent, this judgment will likely carry a great deal of weight in disciplinary proceedings seeking the teacher’s termination. 

If you are interested in accessing the PIP+, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Arons, at

IV.           Teacher Performance Unit

The new Teacher Performance Unit (TPU), which is located within the Office of the General Counsel, is comprised of five attorneys who will be responsible for counseling principals on disciplinary issues involving tenured teachers and for handling cases filed under Education Law 3020-a against tenured teachers for incompetence. 

The creation of TPU represents a significant infusion of resources that will ensure we have the capacity to seek the removal of all ineffective tenured teachers who, in spite of receiving the time and support sufficient to allow them to substantially improve, won’t or can’t do so. 

TPU attorneys will also be involved in potential disciplinary cases from an early stage, providing guidance to principals on technical questions and on case preparation.

Principals who wish to seek removal of tenured teachers based on competency should schedule a Technical Assistance Conference (TAC) with TPU, by completing and submitting this form [TPU Request].  A TPU representative will get back to you within five (5) days to schedule the TAC. 

V.            FAQ’s

Q: Should I use these services in lieu of or in addition to services from my HR Partner or ISC Counsel?

A: In addition.  These services are intended to supplement, not supplant, the services being provided by your HR Partner and ISC Counsel.  In fact, all HR Partners are receiving additional training on addressing employees with performance problems, so they should be called on as a resource for these issues, as well as the full range of other HR issues.  Your ISC Counsel also continues to be a primary resource for guidance on labor issues.  However, where you need intensive help with tenured teachers with performance problems, the LSU can provide that help and will work in concert with your HR Partner, your ISC Counsel and the TPU to provide you with comprehensive, solution-based support.

Q: Can I use these resources for employees other than tenured teachers, e.g. Assistant Principals, Guidance Counselors, probationers, administrative employees?

A: Though the focus for these supports is on tenured teachers, and the PIP+ will address only tenured teachers, LSU staff can help you with performance issues involving all school employees, and TPU will be responsible for bringing disciplinary cases for incompetence against all tenured personnel.  However, your HR Partner and ISC Counsel should remain your primary resource for performance issues involving employees other than tenured teachers.

Q:  Can I contact LSU about a tenured teacher who has not yet been U-rated?

A:  Yes, though LSU will be dealing first with cases of teachers with multiple U-ratings and then those with single U-ratings, staff will assist you with all cases of performance issues involving tenured teachers.

Q: Who do I contact if I have a misconduct issue?

A: The Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) will continue to handle misconduct cases against tenured personnel.  You can arrange a Technical Assistance Conference with ATU by submitting this form [ATU Request].  For advice involving misconduct by non-tenured personnel, you should continue to contact your HR Partner and ISC Counsel.

Q: How does the new Peer Intervention-Plus Program relate to the existing Peer Intervention Program?

A; By agreement with the UFT, the new Peer Intervention-Plus Program is to be used for tenured teachers in danger of being charged under 3020-a with incompetence, while the existing Peer Intervention Program is to be used for teachers outside that category who would like assistance. 

Q:  Can I enter the classroom of a teacher participating in the Peer Intervention-Plus Program?

A:  Yes.  Unlike the Peer Intervention Program, there are absolutely no restrictions on your ability to evaluate or observe teachers in the PIP+.

Q: What happens if the Peer Intervener disagrees with my judgment about a struggling teacher?

A: Though charges can still be brought against such a teacher, it will be difficult to obtain termination where an objective third party has found the teacher to be competent."

Also out in November 2007 was the "Performance Management" Guide on How To Get Rid of An Incompetent Teacher" (p. 12), a mainstay of every Principal's diet, and, in 2008, former OLR Director David Brodsky gave a presentation on the Tenure Process and terminating teachers.
David Brodsky

I was hired by Randi Weingarten two months earlier, on or about August 23, 2007, to gather information and help support the people sitting in the RRs, or "temporary re-assignment centers, TRCs" as I called them (to distinguish the actual rubber ROOMS from the rubber room PROCESS I was going to research and write about in my book). Even well-known writers such as Steven Brill got it all wrong.

Randi put me in what she called the "SWAT Team" with Jim Callaghan and Ron Isaac, two reporters for NY TEACHER. Neither Jim nor Ron wanted anything to do with the rubber roomers, saying that they (the people in the RRs) "did not want my help" [Ron's words] and "they are all guilty, so I cant help them" (Jim's words).
Jim Callaghan

I didnt see it that way, I saw innocence until proven guilty and wanted to get all the information on each case so that we, the UFT, could prove the DOE wrong in filing the charges in the first place. I had, when I started at the UFT, no idea that the UFT was not interested in fighting for their members. Maybe I didnt want to see it. But it became clear to me when Mike Mulgrew took Randi's place, and all of a sudden my office on the 16th floor of 52 Broadway was taken (and left empty, by the way), some of my personal belongings went permanently missing (sound familiar?) and I had to meet with people who came to see me, in the cafeteria or the kitchen area. Eric, of Chaz11 finally told Leroy Barr after one of our monthly meetings that he had to give me an office. We finally found a group of empty desks on the other end of the 16th floor, where I moved my stuff and my computer was moved. Then the UFT lost my computer.

Leroy Barr
But they could not fire me, because I was doing my job, which paid me for 14 hours/week,  but I worked 60 hours/week, 46 hours unpaid. Laurie, in her post "If you knew Betsy...." was wrong about that (that I was fired, like Jim Callaghan). I was 'excessed'  when the rubber rooms were closed in July 2010 (see below), and gladly, I might add. Every second I worked at the UFT post-Randi I was hindered by the post-Randi crowd from helping any member. I remember the day that the Principal of 25 Chapel Street came over to me when I entered the room as a UFT Special Representative and told me that he had received a call from UFT Rep. Liz Perez. She had told him to keep an eye on me because I was giving "legal" advice to the TRC members, and they (the UFT) felt that no one should be talking with anyone in the room. He and I had a good laugh about that, but it wasnt funny. My job was to talk with the people who were displaced. It was frowned upon. I needed to move on, and start my own initiative, and I did that.

"Rubber rooms to close June 30
UFT signs historic agreement with city to ‘end fear tactic’ used against members

UFTPresident Michael Mulgrew (seated, right) and Chancellor Joel Klein sign the agreement while Mayor Michael
Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott look on.
The highlights
·         The rubber rooms will close at the end of the current school year.
·         As of Sept. 1, UFT-represented pedagogues who are accused of misconduct or incompetence will be:
·         Assigned to their schools to do certain professional or administrative activities listed in the teachers’ collective-bargaining agreement;
Assigned to a DOE administrative office to do administrative work consistent with law; or
Sent home with pay in very limited circumstances.
·         After removing an educator from the classroom, DOE officials will have 10 days to bring incompetence charges and 60 days for charges of misconduct. Any educator not formally charged within that time will be sent back to his or her previous assignment.
·         For those whose investigations result in charges, the hearing process must be completed within 60 days in most cases. An arbitrator would then have 30 days to make a decision. The number of arbitrators who hear such cases will increase from 23 to 39.
·         Some members accused of less serious, non-termination offenses will have a mandated process consisting of three hearing days.
·         For educators currently assigned to rubber rooms, arbitrators will work as mediators in an effort to settle many of the cases in the backlog. The rest will proceed to 3020-a hearings. The 3020-a hearing of anyone charged by Aug. 31, 2010, must be completed by the end of the calendar year. These educators will be given an administrative reassignment at their school or at a DOE office while their case is being heard.
At long last, the controversial Temporary Reassignment Centers, dubbed rubber rooms, will close on June 30 thanks to an intensive effort by the UFT and the city.
At a press conference on April 15, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced an agreement that will see the rooms closed for good.
“The rubber rooms are a symptom of a disciplinary process that has not worked for anyone — not the kids, not the schools, and not the teachers,” Mulgrew said. “This agreement is designed to get teachers out of the rubber rooms and to ensure that they do not have to wait for months or years to have their cases heard. Most importantly, it removes a fear tactic used by management against our members in schools.”
Approximately 550 educators are currently assigned to rubber rooms; about half are under investigation and awaiting charges, while most of the remainder are going through the hearing process. Cases can take months or years to be resolved.
The agreement will clear the backlog by December, speed up the adjudication process and remove the stigma of allegedly bad teachers being removed from their schools and watched over all day by private security guards.
Most members assigned to the Temporary Reassignment Centers reacted positively to the deal, happy to be leaving the notorious rooms, one of which packed 24 people in 600 square feet in a drab Brooklyn basement.
A few were skeptical, given Klein’s track record, that the DOE would adhere to any agreement.
Educators in schools expressed a sense of relief that principals will no longer be able to use the threat of a rubber room. Some believe that principals used the rubber rooms to punish whistleblowers, threaten strong chapter leaders and harass those who claimed they were being mistreated based on their age and race.
Under the agreement, for most teachers who have been accused of misconduct, the DOE will have the ability to remove them from their classrooms and reassign them to administrative duties in schools or DOE offices for a period of 60 days while it investigates the accusations. If charges are not filed after the 60 days, the reassigned educator must be returned to his or her former school duties while the probe continues.
Once charged, for most educators, the 3020-a disciplinary process will now include 10 to 14 hearing days on the charges. Educators accused of less-serious, non-termination offenses will have a mandated process consisting of three hearing days.
“It will be a faster, fairer process,” said Mulgrew.
Despite inaccurate statements to the contrary, the DOE always had the right to give work to reassigned educators. The idea that UFT members enjoyed “sitting around doing nothing all day” was an absurd allegation used to portray the union and its members as protecting featherbedders and deadbeats, union officials said.
Before the Bloomberg-Klein administration, educators accused of misconduct or incompetence were reassigned to district offices to do work."

Of course this is all bulloney, as we now know.
Then the UFT and DOE got into a war over the number of arbitrators who were supposed to be hired to get UFT members out of their employment as quickly as possible (so happy I was not working any longer for the UFT!!!!):


City Sues UFT for Failure to Assign Rubber Room Arbitrators

NEW YORK—The city sued the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) on Friday for what it says is a failure of the UFT to uphold its end of an agreement to increase arbitrators. The arbitrators were to expedite the processing of teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings, allowing them to get back to the classroom, or be taken off the payroll.

In 2010, the UFT and the city struck a deal to end Temporary Reassignment Centers, also known as the “rubber room,” which is the place teachers go to await the outcome of disciplinary hearings. The city had taken heat for the rubber rooms after investigations found teachers spent years being paid for doing administrative work.

As part of the agreement, the UFT agreed to increase the number of arbitrators from 23 to 39, a move aimed to expedite the process.

According to the city, the UFT has failed to keep its end of the bargain.

In a complaint to be filed today, the city charges only 19 arbitrators are on the books, well short of the 39 agreed upon. In 2011-2012 there were 24 arbitrators set, however, they were not seated at the same time, according to the complaint.

Arbitrators are appointed only if the UFT and the NY Department of Education can agree on the person. The complaint alleges the UFT and the Department of Education were to meet at least twice a year to select arbitrators, something that has not happened.

“They just keep delaying,” Mayor Michael Blomberg said on his Friday morning radio show. “The backlog keeps getting bigger. 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.”

In a Sept. 19 letter, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he would agree to 30 arbitrators, the minimum required from the 2010 agreement. However, the UFT failed to agree, according to the complaint.

Epoch Times reached out to the UFT for comment, but the union did not respond by press time.

Lawsuit alleges union is breaking promises in ‘rubber room’ deal

A “big deal” forged to shutter the city’s infamous rubber rooms more than three years ago is getting dragged down by the city teachers union, the city charges in a lawsuit filed today.
Department of Education lawyers say the United Federation of Teachers has failed to hold up a key part of the agreement, which was struck with joint praise from Mayor Bloomberg and union President Michael Mulgrew in April 2010 to speed up the disciplinary process for teachers whom the city wants to fire. At the time, the city estimated it was spending $30 million a year to pay 550 teachers who were removed from the classroom and who languished — sometimes for years — in reassignment centers known as “rubber rooms” while they awaited a hearing.
A major element of the deal was to increase the pool of mutually acceptable arbitrators — from 23 to 39 — who rule on cases against teachers charged with incompetence or misconduct. But three years after the reforms were scheduled to take place, that number has actually fallen to 19 — while the number of teachers facing trials stands at over 400.
The lawsuit alleges that the UFT has repeatedly balked at approving enough arbitrators to hit the new target. Last month, the union agreed to invite just 14 arbitrators, and the selection process stalled entirely this month.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew has argued that the union cannot agree to the arbitrators whom the city proposes. In a letter to Chancellor Dennnis Walcott earlier this week, Mulgrew said the selection process would be faster “if the DOE would propose more qualified candidates.”

The arbitrator pool has also shrunk because the state does not always pay arbitrators for their work in a timely fashion. The State Education Department, which is responsible for the payments, recently reported a $2 million deficit in the “Tenured Teacher Hearing” fund, which is used to pay arbitrators in disciplinary cases.
A group of arbitrators are suing the state over the payments, including one who’s owed $200,000 in backpay. ”The reason many of the very senior arbitrators [sic] no longer do these cases is the state would not pay us based on the work that we had done,” former arbitrator Arthur Riegel told WNYC.
Perhaps as a result, few people have wanted to take the job when it is offered. Just eight of the 14 arbitrators offered the position in August accepted.
“Many arbitrators are reluctant to work with the DOE,” UFT spokesman Dick Riley said today.
As a result, the speed of the disciplinary process appears to have barely budged since 2010.The department reported in its lawsuit that there are currently more than 400 teachers who require discipline hearings with the 19 arbitrators, and lawyers said they expect another 150 cases in the near future.
The city said it is spending $8 million a year to pay teachers who have been removed from the classroom while they await arbitration.
Riley said the current pool of arbitrators would be “enough” if the department would consider using a less aggressive legal process called mediation. In that process, the teacher and the city first try to reach a settlement at a pretrial hearing to avoid starting arbitration. Union lawyers said that of 55 cases that went through this process this summer, 39 reached settlement without arbitration. In some cases, teachers agreed to resign or retire, while in others teachers accepted suspensions before returning to the classroom, union officials said.
“If the DOE was truly interested in in resolving cases efficiently, it would agree to our proposal to keep this process in place permanently,”  Mulgrew wrote to Walcott this week.
COMING SOON in the 3020-a Arbitration Newswire: The Destruction of Rights and the Permanent Panel; the DOE Prosecutors; and Ian Nikol, a Lawyer Without Ethics.

Spread the word.
Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice