A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
ARG: Administrators' Reserve Group
The process that is used to remove senior, experienced, teachers from their jobs and to throw these teachers into re-assignment centers or positions as "teacher reserves" can be described in the following hypotheticals:
(1) a principal is told that he/she must shrink the budget, and therefore must get rid of the most highly paid teacher(s) in the building. A person is found who is willing to fib and charge the senior, expensive teacher with something that can be described as "misconduct, corporal abuse, or harassment"; alternatively, the principal can design a frame-up whereby a paper clip holder suddenly is no longer on his/her desk (the only person who could have taken it is the senior teacher) and immediately an OOR (Online Occurence Report) is emailed to 'headquarters'. The Special Commissioner of Investigation or the Office of Special Investigations is contacted, and a decision is made to investigate, either by SCI, OSI, or by the principal. Let's say the principal decides to charge the teacher but knows that the evidence may be flimsy, so he/she gives the teacher a letter saying that the teacher must report to a re-assignment center (to be charged after something is 'found')...see my article on the case of Teddy Smith;
(2) Joel Klein decides that there is too much uncontrolled freedom at school X, so he tells the principal that "...if you dont get rid of the whistleblowers and others in your school I will close your school and give you an 'F'"(the reverse is true as well: do what I say and you will get an 'A'). The principal doesn't do what is ordered, so the school gets an F, parents flee, and the school is left with few - or no - classes and is closed, scattering the newly minted teacher reserves in all directions, all without jobs. Who remembers District 79? An effort to help kids that was very successful...so successful, in fact, that in 2007 Joel Klein re-organized the entire district into chaos and oblivion (see article by Jeff Kaufman, below).
There are, of course, other techniques for creating a teacher reserve pool that are equally outrageous.
I have a better idea. There are too many useless employees of the NYC Board of Education working today at Tweed, the headquarters, at 52 Chambers Street in Manhattan. Why do we need them? What are they doing? I called several Tweed employees up after locating their salaries in 2005. What you can see by reading the salaries and the job titles is misleading, as all are different than what is written. Why not re-locate highly skilled accountants and budgetary analysts to schools - say as budget coordinators - or let all of them go to other jobs that dont use public funds. In fact, fire all of them and bring back elected school board members who can vote on policies that protect the interests of the children in the districts they represent. I cannot get comfortable with the fact that the New York City school district, the largest in the United States, has no school board.
Mr. Klein and Mayor Bloomberg should agree to put an immediate freeze on hiring any new teachers until the reserve pool has no one left sitting around doing nothing.
September 26, 2008
Budget Bind Turns Spotlight on Reserve Teacher Policy
By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ, NY TIMES
The announcement this week that the New York City school system must cut $185 million from its current budget has renewed a push by the Department of Education to convince the teachers’ union of the need to end the contentious policy of keeping teachers whose positions have been eliminated on the payroll.
A report issued this week by a teacher recruitment organization estimated the cost of the so-called teacher reserve pool — nearly 1,400 educators who have lost their classroom assignments because of shrinking enrollment, school closings or the elimination of programs — at $74 million this year. The teachers in the pool have been unable to find other schools to hire them — some have refused to shop around — and generally spend their days as substitutes or doing needed nonteaching tasks.
On Thursday, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein said he would like to set a limit on the time teachers can spend in the pool before they are placed on unpaid leave. But the teachers’ union called instead for a freeze in the hiring of any new teachers so that vacancies could be filled from the reserves.
“Millions of dollars can be saved and thousands of kids can be served if we just let them teach,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the union, the United Federation of Teachers, who was surrounded by nine reserve-pool teachers at a news conference at the union’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan. (See picture below)
Currently, teachers can remain in the pool indefinitely; most find jobs within one school year. The report estimated, for example, that fewer than 1,000 would be left without classrooms by June. The pool has swelled largely because of a change in hiring practices in 2005 that ended the automatic transfer of teachers who lost their jobs to other schools, according to seniority.
In a letter to Ms. Weingarten on Thursday, Chancellor Klein dismissed the call for a hiring freeze. He called reassignment of reserve-pool teachers “a discredited practice, which harmed our schools for decades,” and asserted that a return to it “would once more require schools to accept teachers regardless of whether principals and faculty believe they are the best candidates or good fits for positions.”
Reserve-pool teachers interviewed on Thursday said their status amounted to a “blacklist” because principals balked at their higher salaries and, in some cases, questioned their credentials if they came from schools that had been closed. Because the reserve teachers are paid by the city under the current system, Ms. Weingarten said, principals have little reason to want to hire them permanently and assume the cost.
Ms. Weingarten said principals should be given more incentives to hire more expensive, more experienced teachers. (The city already pays the difference between a new teacher’s salary and a reserve teacher’s salary in the first year, and half the difference in the second year.)
Marsha Welikson, a teacher for 23 years who was placed in the pool in August when her job at Public School 114 in Rockaway Park, Queens, was cut for budget reasons, said she applied for 55 jobs over the summer. In addition, she sent e-mail messages and faxes to principals at several schools, even if they were not advertising openings. She said that she did not land a job interview, which she attributed to discrimination based on age and salary.
“I feel like after having all this experience and knowledge and so much I can share with colleagues and students, I’m being thrown around and treated like I don’t exist anymore,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s very demeaning.”
Every school day, Ms. Welikson, a former math coach, shows up at P.S. 114 for her assignment. Some days, she teaches pre-kindergarteners; this week, she is filling in for the gym teacher.
“They’re lucky that they have me because I wear many hats,” she said.
But several teachers in the reserve pool say some principals make it clear they do not want them in a classroom and instead fill their days with menial work assignments, like taking attendance or sweeping the gym floor.
Deborah Williams, a teacher for 15 years, has been without a permanent post since 2005. She said she applied for 45 positions over four months and got only two interviews. At her salary level, $78,000 a year, she said principals seemed reluctant to choose her when they could find cheaper labor elsewhere.
“I blame the union and the school district for taking away my rights to seniority,” she said. “It just makes it impossible to get on a school’s payroll. That’s all I want.”
Timothy Daly, president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit organization that recruits and trains new teachers(check out the Board of Directors - ed.) said he had concerns about forcing reserve teachers back into the classroom, calling such a move a “bad solution educationally.”
His group found in an April report, updated and reissued this week, that the teachers in the reserve pool who did not get new jobs were more likely to have unsatisfactory ratings than other teachers, and he said he worried that these teachers might end up disproportionately in schools with large populations of poor and minority students, which tend to have more vacancies.
“In the old system, the kids who were most vulnerable had teachers who were not worthy of being hired elsewhere,” he said. He advocated allowing teachers to spend only a year in the pool before being put on unpaid leave.
Betsy Gotbaum, the city’s public advocate, said that given the large expense of the reserve-pool program, the city should put these teachers into classrooms immediately to reduce overcrowding. If the teachers had performance problems, she said, it would be up to principals to manage them.
“If the teacher isn’t doing well, then you write them up,” she said. “It’s certainly better than not using them at all.”
Jennifer Medina contributed reporting.
September 22, 2008
City Teacher Pay Practice Comes in for Fresh Criticism
By JENNIFER MEDINA, NY TIMES
New York City might have to pay teachers whose positions were eliminated in the last academic year and who have yet to find a permanent job at another city school more than $74 million to be substitutes or replacements, according to a report expected to be released on Monday by a nonprofit group.
A similar report released in April estimated that the city had already paid about $81 million to teachers whose positions were eliminated in the 2006 and 2007 academic years. Under the teachers’ union contract, teachers whose positions have been eliminated from one school and who cannot find another school to hire them or who do not look for a new job are assigned to fill in as substitute teachers or temporary replacements. They receive full teachers’ salaries and benefits.
The teachers are part of the so-called teacher-reserve pool, which was an outgrowth of an agreement between the city and the teachers’ union to end seniority rights in staffing decisions and to stop automatically transferring teachers who have been cut because of shrinking enrollment at some schools, the closing of large schools or the elimination of programs.
Chancellor Joel I. Klein has said that he would rather absorb the costs of the teachers in the reserve pool than force principals to accept teachers they did not want, based on seniority.
Timothy Daly, the president of the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit that recruits and trains new teachers, and the principal author of the report, said that the policy of not forcing principals to accept senior teachers should remain intact, but that immediate action was needed to prevent the city from spending millions of dollars on such teachers.
In 2008, 2,039 teachers were newly placed in the reserve pool, according to the report. The majority of them, 63 percent, found a new job at another school, were given a different job at their former school or quit, the report said. It also said that of the 1,400 teachers now in the pool, 637 have been without permanent jobs for at least a year.
“The data suggest that the number of excessed teachers without classroom positions will continue to increase annually,” the report said.
But Education Department officials said on Sunday that roughly 230 of those in the reserve pool were new teachers who were hired by the department, largely through programs to attract nontraditional teaching candidates, like Teach for America and the city’s Teaching Fellows program.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, issued a statement responding to the report, dismissing the New Teacher Project as a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of the Education Department. She said that more than 200 of the city’s newest teachers were still without a permanent placement.
The New Teacher Project runs the city’s Teaching Fellows program under a $4 million contract that expires in 2010.
“They might have pointed out how irresponsible it was for the Department of Education to bring thousands of novices into a teacher market where the supply already far outstripped the demand,” Ms. Weingarten said, suggesting that the department instead propose a moratorium on hiring new teachers, until all teachers in the pool are placed.
Although the current contract would not allow the city to unilaterally open up negotiations with the union, Melody Meyer, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said that officials hoped that the union would “work with us to find a solution” to the reserve pool.
June 7, 2008
City and Teachers’ Union Disagree on Reserve Pool
By JENNIFER MEDINA, NY TIMES, June 7, 2008
City teachers who are not assigned to permanent classroom jobs still play a vital role in the school system, according to a report released yesterday by the city teachers’ union.
The report criticized findings put out last month by the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit organization that trains teachers for school systems nationwide and runs New York’s Teaching Fellows program. The project found that teachers without permanent assignments — the so-called reserve pool — have cost the city $81 million in the last two years.
In the union report, “Case Study in Partisanship,” the union attacked the New Teacher Project as a biased organization that favors management and the city’s Education Department. And it quarreled with the project’s numbers, saying that payments to the reserve pool teachers cost $36 million and not $81 million over the last two years.
The reserve pool stems from a change in the teachers’ contract that ended seniority rights in school staffing decisions and the automatic transfer of teachers who had been cut because of school closings or shrinking student enrollment. Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has said that he would rather absorb the cost of teachers in the reserve pool than saddle principals with teachers they did not want.
The union report says that almost 200 teachers in the reserve pool have full-time positions in a classroom. The remaining 471 teachers are assigned to schools where they work as substitute teachers throughout the year, the union said.
The city, though, disputes these conclusions. Dan Weisberg, the education department’s chief executive for labor relations, says that fewer than 30 teachers work full time in a classroom and that the vast majority of teachers in the pool are substitutes.
The union reached the amount that it says the reserve pool costs through a complex calculation. First, it said that hiring 471 entry-level teachers at $64,690 a year — instead of using the ones in the reserves — cost the city $30.5 million a year. Then, it said that by using the reserve teachers as substitutes, the city saved $11.8 million that it otherwise would have had to pay for substitutes. The total cost, the union concluded, was $18.7 million a year.
The union’s calculations do not consider the salaries of those in the reserve pool, which must be paid under the contract.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the union, said the city could have saved the $30.5 million it paid to hire new teachers by placing reserve pool teachers in different jobs. She also said that the city was obligated by the terms of the contract to give these experienced teachers priority, but that the department had not done enough to help them find new jobs.
“The simplest way to solve this problem is for the department to implement what they already have an obligation to do, which is to care about their employees a little bit and actually manage the process,” she said. “Basically what they say is ‘Tough luck, it’s up to you to find a job.’ ”
Mr. Weisberg disagreed with the numbers and said that the vast majority of reserve teachers eventually found permanent posts, and that it was “patently false that we are just letting these people sink or swim.”
Timothy Daly, the president of the New Teacher Project, dismissed the union’s methodology and said that the union was underestimating the cost in an effort to play down the issue.
“They want to do the accounting to make it look like the policy is not a problem,” Mr. Daly said, adding that the real question was, “Is it appropriate to allow teachers to receive tenure when they’re not in a classroom or to be placed teaching a class they are not licensed for?”
Teachers Union Fights Effort To Stop Paying Reserve Pool
By ELIZABETH GREEN, Staff Reporter of the Sun, May 5, 2008
Facing pressure to grant the city authority to stop paying teachers in the so-called Absent Teacher Reserve, teachers whom school officials say "either can't or won't get a job" but are still on the city's payroll, the United Federation of Teachers is fighting back.
In a data analysis released to The New York Sun yesterday, the union challenged the notion that teachers in the reserve pool do not hold actual jobs. Nearly one-third of teachers in the pool, or 194 of an estimated 665, are not idly waiting for work but are rather teaching full courseloads, according to the analysis, which union officials said was compiled from a combination of central labor records available to the union and anecdotal reports from schools.
The analysis also disputes an estimate, published in a report last week and endorsed by city school officials, that the reserve pool has cost the city $81 million over the last two years.
According to the union's analysis, when factoring for the money reserve pool members save in covering full courseloads and substitute teaching, their cost is $18.7 million annually.
The union president, Randi Weingarten, is also reaching out to members of the reserve pool with a promise to reject any change in the contract that would dent a "rock-solid job security clause" for ATR members.
"I wanted to personally reassure you that the UFT will not reopen the contract to negotiate any change in the terms and conditions of your employment," Ms. Weingarten wrote in a letter to reserve pool members on Friday.
The hard line makes it extremely unlikely that the Bloomberg administration will be able to negotiate the deal it would like to cut on the Absent Teacher Reserve question.
For seven months, the administration has been holding private meetings with the union seeking some way to either fire or cut the pay of members of the pool. Such a change would be historic in city schools long ruled by union efforts to create air-tight job security. The meetings all ended in stalemate.
Hopes that Ms. Weingarten might relent seemed to rise with last week's report by the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group that does some contracting work with the city.
The report found that reserve teachers who remained in the pool without finding a job were more likely to have been rated "unsatisfactory" and less likely to have actively sought a job. To cut the cost of the pool, it suggested the city create incentives for members to leave it, such as a threatened pay cut if they stayed for 12 months.
The union analysis disputes the report's characterization of reserve teachers. It charges that ATR status, rather than suggesting poor quality or a lack of motivation, has actually become an accounting trick. Because ATR members' pay and benefits are covered by central administration, not individual school budgets, using them as full-time teachers is a way for principals to add staff without losing money, the union says.
One ATR member, John Murray, a 29-year veteran of the school system, said he was substituting last semester but now teaches art history at Stuyvesant High School full-time, drawing on a recent sabbatical he used to study the subject at the American University of Rome.
The UFT's list of schools using ATR members to teach full-time loads includes several with multiple teachers who are ATR members, such as Tilden High School in Brooklyn, where the union says 14 full-time teachers are actually members of the ATR.
Told about the union's analysis yesterday, Department of Education officials dismissed it.
"I believe this is a red herring of the first order," Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf said. "I believe there is no possibility that her number is accurate."
The president of the New Teacher Project, Timothy Daly, said he knew of no way to collect data on precisely what ATR members are doing inside schools.
"Why didn't I hear about this before now if this is a widespread problem?" Mr. Daly said.
Mr. Cerf said the city still faces a troubling question: how to handle the significant number of teachers who are guaranteed essentially lifetime employment by the teachers contract but "either won't get a job or can't get a job."
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Executive Board Approves District 79 Reorganization as Hundreds of Staff Still Don’t Know Where to Go
In what was hailed as a "breakthrough" in negotiations the Executive Board approved, after an impact bargaining session, an agreement which alters the contractually mandated manner in how excessed teachers are treated.
On May 24, 2007 the Superintendent of Alternative Schools, Cami Anderson,(pictured at right) announced widespread changes to District 79. Most notable were the closing of a number of schools, the movement of schools out of the district and the creation of special GED schools. While most of the personnel in the District knew that things were going to change no one expected that Anderson would overhaul the District in this manner.
In typical DOE fashion no consultation about the changes was ever entered into with our Union. Also questioned was whether the reorganization was basically a rouse to move personnel, a violation of our contract.
Armed with clear violations of the Contract and the knowledge that the DOE wanted to complete this reorganization due the extraordinary expenditures and alleged failures of the District's programs the Union demanded and won some protections in the reorganization.
Among some of the protections won include the ability of those excessed to apply for the new programs (basically GED programs) in the GED Plus, Restart and ACCESS schools. Personnel will be chosen by a joint UFT/DOE committee. Anyone left out who remains in excess will have the opportunity to be placed as an excessed teacher in one of 5 high schools or a borough, based on seniority.
The schools affected are ASHS, CEC, OES , VTC, New Beginnings, and School for Pregnant Teens.
Second Opportunity Schools and Offsite Suspension will be closed effective August 29 2007 but have a separate agreement. SOS and Offsite teachers who opted in will be placed in a "New Suspension School" that will have a regular school schedule (summer pay will be kept). Excessed teachers from these schools will follow the previous agreement and will be placed in District 79 schools in their borough. Although not part of the written agreement it is believed that these teachers will be given the same choice as excessed teachers from the other closing schools are given (i.e. 5 school and borough pick).
After all is said and done the agreement does seem fair although it is unclear what would have happened if we fought the reorganization. In any case, the bottom line has not changed; very few of the over 700 excessed teachers have a clue as to where they will be on August 30th or what lies ahead for them since many will remain ATRs throughout the system.
Placement in a school of your choice, based on seniority, is a great concept which should be applied to other reorganizations but placement does not guarantee you appointment. If the principal wants you out you are out. As an ATR you have no rights to the position. In fact as an ATR you have no right to a teaching program preference. You will not be receiving the best programs.
It is clear there will be mass confusion at the start of school. How this helps students in need of special education services that alternative education provided only time will tell.
Posted by Jeff Kaufman at 6/28/2007 09:47:00 PM
NYC BOE: Out With the Old, In With the New
The New York City is actively removing good, veteran teachers from the public school classrooms of New York City and replacing them with new, young people who have just graduated from school and/or do not have experience with the New York public school system.
So says Judge Rackoff, in a decision in favor of teachers claiming age discrimination (Index No. 06 Civ 1836 (JSR))
Maggie Wallace sent this report to Education Notes Online:
September 21, 2008
A jury of 7 found the DOE and the principal of Graphic Communication High School guilty of age discrimination in the case of three of of seven teachers who brought the charges. Two of the teachers remain in the teaching staff of the School. A third teacher was forced to retire 2 years ago.
Jerod Resnick, the principal of HSGCA discriminated against Midge Maroni, 60, Diana Friedline,57, and Anthony Ferraro 71, teachers of English, Commercial Art and Design, respectively. Ferraro was forced to retire two years ago while Maroni and Friedline still work in the school.
Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District Federal Court located at 500 Pearl Street in downtown Manhattan concluded that the DOE and Principal Resnick may be liable for other types of discrimination. Other claims related to wrongful termination, harassment and retaliation were dismissed because they were not “directly related” to age discrimination.
Judge Rakoff threw out the claims of two Spanish teachers who have spent two years in the Teachers Reassignment Center (also known as the “rubber room”) wrongfully accused of an administrative snafu by an assistant principal, because the evidence presented by the plaintiffs lawyers were not “directly related to age discrimination.”
“My heart goes out to these two teachers” said Judge Rakoff of the teachers who remain in the infamous “rubber room”. The members of the jury acknowledged that the educators who brought the lawsuit had indeed been submitted to unfair labor practices which pointed to all kinds of discrimination.
Elaine Jackson a tenured teacher, was hired in 2004 by Resnick as an assistant principal for the English Department. Ms Jackson was soon replaced by a younger male administrator, one of the administrators accused of ageism by English teacher Midge Maroni.
Elaine Jackson was asked to resign by principal Resnick after a semester of harassment and retaliatory measures, because “things didn’t just work out between us.” Ms. Jackson was never paid for her tenure and was demoted as an administrator. She was forced to transfer to another school even though she was willing to stay as a teacher.
Anthony Ferraro, an experienced senior teacher who was targeted by Resnick and several assistant principals mentioned in the lawsuit was eventually forced to resign. He testified that the ordeal caused him anguish and anxiety and made his daily life miserable.
Three tenured teachers who conformed the entire Spanish department were accused of failing to administer the oral portion of the Spanish Regents in January 2006. During their testimony, Josefina Cruz and Gloria Chavez, two of the teachers targeted by Resnick and assistant principal Judy Silverman, said the school administration ignored the protocol, broke all the rules by scheduling freshmen Spanish dominant students to take an advanced exam designed for Spanish learners. The school administration didn’t provide the Spanish teachers with the required materials to test the students. They further testified that according to the NYSBoard of Regents, it was the responsibility of the regents coordinator, the assistant principal and the principal to distribute the materials. None of the administrators responsible for the Regents debacle at Graphics was disciplined. Instead, the CSI and OSI both investigative organs of the Department of Education conducted a faulty investigation resulting in the Spanish teachers being blamed and punished.
When questioned by Ambrose Wotorson, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers why had his school been in the SURR list for the six years he had been principal of Graphics he responded that the school was being investigated because of reports that there was tampering with the Regents in recent years.
The trial which lasted two weeks, started last September 8, and ended September 19, documented the ordeal of at least 7 teachers who brought the claims of discrimination before the court in 2006. One of the allegations described how Jerod Resnick rated unsatisfactory at least 19 teachers in the school year 2004-2005 so he Could make room for younger teachers. Most tenured teachers left the school and were replaced by younger, nontenured and unlicensed teachers.
However, those claims found not to be age discrimination by the jury, could still be discriminatory in nature and the DOE and Principal Resnick Could be liable for some other discriminatory practice (race, ethnicity etc).
The GCAHS plaintiffs whose charges prevailed and were awarded various sums of money.
In July, 2008, Jeff Kaufman wrote:
GRAPHIC COMMUNICATION ARTS HS TEACHERS SUING FOR AGE DISCRIMINATION WILL FINALLY GET THEIR DAY IN COURT
Back in 2005 forty-five teachers filed a complaint with the EEOC that the DOE had discriminated against them because they were over 40 years old. The Daily News reported the filing and Randi Weingarten announced at the time that "88% of teachers brought up on disciplinary charges in the last three years were over 40."
A lawsuit involving 12 of the teachers, filed in 2006, is finally coming to trial. While some of the claims have been dismissed on technical grounds the 12 teachers have won significant gains.
In Shapiro v. NYC DOE, 06 Civ. 1836, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 46327, Judge Jed Rakoff found that during the 2004-2005 school year, five teachers were transferred from Graphic Communication Arts and reassigned to another school. All were over age forty. In June 2005, sixteen teachers at GCA were given unsatisfactory ratings ("U ratings") for the year. Of the 16, thirteen were over the age of 40. A year later, in June 2006, eight teachers received U ratings, only one of whom was under age forty.
One of the teachers given a U rating in 2005 was plaintiff Diana Friedline, who was 53 years old at the time. Friedline has a New York State teaching license in commercial art and a New York City teaching license in cold type composition. She had been a full time teacher since 1989. In the Spring of 2005, Friedline applied for a curriculum writing position at GCA. The principal told Friedline that Friedline was not eligible for the position because she was certified with the wrong license. Friedline filed a grievance objecting to her non-selection for the position, which was denied. Friedline also applied to have a substitute vocational assistant student teacher placed in her classroom; but this application was also denied. When Friedline complained to the principal that these actions were prompted by age discrimination, he told her that he preferred to hire younger candidates. In June 2005, Friedline was giving a U rating for the year.
One of the teachers given a U rating in both years was plaintiff Josefina Cruz, who was 58 years old in June 2005. She has been a teacher of Spanish at GCA since 2003. In the Spring of 2005, she received 24 classroom visits in a two-month period, which she testified was well above the norm. Her schedule was changed seven times in two weeks. She was then given a U rating for the year. In January, 2006, Cruz failed to administer the oral portion of the Spanish regents exam because she had not been given exam materials, which were kept in a vault to which she had no access. She was then given a U rating for the 2005 year, served with disciplinary charges, and reassigned to the Manhattan rubber room.
Another teacher who was given a U rating in 2005 was plaintiff Anthony Ferraro, who was then 72 years old. He began teaching at GCA in 1985. In May, 2003, the principal requested that teachers planning to retire contact him to let him know of their plans. Ferraro contacted the principal but then changed his mind and decided not to retire. When Ferraro told the principal of his change in plans, the principal asked Ferraro's age and then expressed "extreme dismay" that Ferraro was planning to say on at the school In December, 2004, Assistant Principal Johnson repeatedly chided Ferraro for continuing to work and reminded Ferraro that Ferraro could be doing other things with his life, such as spending time with his wife and traveling. Similarly, Assistant Principal Seyfried told Ferrarro that he did not understand why Ferraro was still working and that Ferraro should have retired long ago. In June, 2003, the principal told Ferraro that Ferraro was doing a "deplorable job" coordinating the "LEARN" program, a work-study program through which Ferraro coordinated employment opportunities for GCA students in their chosen fields of study. The principal also told Ferraro that his teaching style was "outmoded" and "outdated."
In September, 2003, Ferraro was removed from his position as LEARN coordinator, but a year later he was reassigned to the position but given less time to perform the necessary work. In January 2005, Ferraro was removed from the position once again and replaced by a younger teacher who was not properly licensed to act as coordinator. Also, in September 2004, Ferraro, a licensed peer mentor, applied to serve as a mentor to new teachers, but the position was given to someone 20 years his junior who was not a certified mentor. Finally, on June 13, 2005, the principal told Ferraro his teaching style was "antiquated" and then days later, Ferraro received a U rating for the year.
Another plaintiff is Diana Hrisinko, who is currently 64 years old. She began teaching at GCA in 2002. Beginning in the fall of 2004, Resnick would come into her classroom unannounced, sometimes as often as five times per week. On February 1, 2005, Hrisinko was transferred from GCA and thereafter worked briefly as a substitute teacher before assuming a position at another school. She filed a grievance claiming that her transfer was illegal because younger teachers with less seniority remained in their positions at GCA.
Plaintiff Elaine Jackson is currently 69 years old and was the Assistant Principal for the English Department at GCA for one semester in the fall of 2003. During her one semester as Assistant Principal, Jackson increased the passing ratio of the English Regents exam. At no time did the principal tell her that he was dissatisfied with her performance. Nonetheless, she was fired in January 2005 and replaced with a younger male who lacked relevant experience for the position.
Plaintiff Midge Maroni, currently 61 years old, began teaching at GCA in 2002. She testified that in early 2003 she was "subjected to ageist comments and unjust criticism" as "Resnick [the principal] repeatedly made references to his desire to have a staff of young teachers." Resnick also said things such as "you don't take your profession seriously, you have old ideas." Maroni was subjected to frequent short, unannounced visits to her classroom from Assistant Principal Brand. During 2005, while Maroni was acting as advisor for the school newspaper, she complained to Resnick that her students lacked access to computers to produce the paper; the next year, a younger teacher received a computer to use for this purpose. In June, 2005, Maroni received a U rating for the year. The U was later dismissed in an arbitration proceeding.
Plaintiff Geraldine F. Whittington, currently 61 years old, began teaching at GCA in 1986. She has a state teaching license in Graphic Arts. Whittington testified that, beginning in 2004, Resnick criticized her for taking sick time to which she was entitled, threatened her with a U rating and treated her with hostility, refusing to address her or make eye contact. When Resnick visited her classroom, he glared at her in an obtrusive and hostile manner. In the spring of 2004, the computers and scanners in Whittington's classroom broke. Whittington heard that new computer equipment was given to younger teachers rather than to her (despite her seniority). Whittington retired effective July 1, 2004.
Plaintiff Fitzroy Kington, currently 58 years old, began teaching at GCA in 1992. During 2004-2005, Resnick repeatedly stood outside of Kington's classroom and shook his head disapprovingly. Assistant Principal Guttman told Kington that Resnick wanted younger, more energetic teachers on staff, and asked when Kington was leaving (even though Kington had not indicated that he had any plan to leave the school). During a social studies exhibition, Kington heard Resnick refer to "old, burnt out, tired teachers" who gave children detention and told them they were no good. In May 2005, Kington applied to transfer to another school.
Plaintiff Gloria Chavez, currently 59 years old, began teaching at GCA in 2002. During the 2004-2005 school year, Resnick began a pattern of yelling at Chavez and threatening disciplinary action against her. He also told her that she looked "tired," should start drinking caffeinated coffee and should modernize her teaching style. In 2006, Chavez did not administer the oral portion of the Spanish regents exam because she was never given the required materials by Assistant Principal Silverman Chavez was then served with disciplinary charges, given a U rating, and reassigned to the Manhattan Regional Operation Center.
Plaintiff Erica Weingast, currently 60 years old, became GCA's bilingual coordinator in 2001. In 2003-2004, Weingast was removed from an after-school assignment teaching English, and the position was given to a teacher who was 30 years younger than Weingast. Between 2003 and 2005, Weingast was "subjected to a campaign of harassment which entailed unwarranted criticisms of her management of [the] bi-lingual studies program." In June, 2004, Resnick began to scream at her in public and humiliate her at school. In June 2005, defendants told her to expect a U rating or resign; Weingast resigned.
Plaintiff Ismael Diaz, currently 64 years old, began teaching at GCA in 2003. During the fall of 2004, Silverman was "constantly" coming into Diaz's classroom, commenting on trivial matters and asking Diaz to attend to a bulletin board in the hallway. She also checked his lessons plans more than once a week. In May 2004, Resnick and Silverman observed one of Diaz's lessons and rated it "unsatisfactory". Resnick refused to speak to Diaz when Diaz said "Good Morning" in the halls. Diaz was given a U rating at the end of the 2004-2005 school year and decided to retire.
In order to prove an Age Discrimination in Employment Act case the teachers are required to show that they suffered an "adverse employment action." This has been defined as suffering a materially adverse change in the terms of employment. A teacher is not required to show a change in income or reduction of benefits. Thus teachers reassigned to the rubber room or receiving a "U" rating can show adverse employment actions, something the City has fought hard to prevent.
Judge Rakoff found that both "U" ratings and rubber room transfers can, if shown in the context of an Age Discrimination claim, be grounds for recovery.
The plaintiffs will have their day in Court to prove their claims before a jury in Manhattan Federal Court.
Posted by Jeff Kaufman at 7/13/2008 10:41:00 AM
and the Daily News posted the following:
Department of Education has more teachers than jobs
BY CARRIE MELAGO, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, September 21st 2008, 4:00 AM
Despite nearly 1,400 teachers sitting in a reserve pool, the Education Department recruited 5,400 new educators this year - and 229 still don't have classrooms, officials said.
The still-unassigned teachers were hired by the administration, not specific schools, adding them to the already swelling rolls of excess paid educators.
"These are teachers who apply to work in New York City and are essentially such good candidates that there's a risk if we don't make an offer quickly, we'll lose them to another district," said spokeswoman Melody Meyer.
Some veteran teachers are miffed that officials would hire an abundance of newbies when so many existing teachers from closed or downsized schools are waiting for placements.
"It makes me crazy. Where's the loyalty?" said Eric Eisenberg, who was excessed this month from Tilden High School in Brooklyn, which is being phased out. "It's clearly designed to drive older, senior teachers out."
The new teachers, who cover classes for absent colleagues, have until Dec. 5 to find permanent placements or be fired.
The situation doesn't sit right with some members of the reserve, which has grown because of the 2005 contract eliminating the "bumping rights" that allowed displaced teachers to take the spots of less senior teachers.
"What's surprising to me is that this year, given how tight the budget was, that they would still have hired as many people as they did," said Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten.
Earlier this year, the teachers union filed a lawsuit charging that more than 80% of the reserve pool was filled with teachers older than 40.
But the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit that contracts with the city to recruit and train teachers, found in a study released in April that more than 100 teachers had collected salaries for two years without applying for any jobs.
According to that study, the city spent $81 million over two years paying for excessed teachers.
The New Teacher Project plans to release an updated version of the report Monday.
Posted by Betsy Combier at 4:06 PM
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