Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Charter v Public Schools: Education Reform Now And Hedge Fund Managers

Perhaps you have received your Education Reform Now brochure in the mail. Or, you have attended a charter school rally and heard how awful public schools are, and how all kids need to be in a wonderful charter school, where you can enjoy a perfect education environment (if, it seems from recent data, you are white and academically above average intelligence, or have no Special Needs/IEP).

I'm posting this article so that all of you readers can see the connections that Eva Moskowitz has to private money, and then you can decide on your own about whether or not charter schools are good or bad by reading the articles published in other blogs and websites. (take a look at Charter School Scandals)

Full disclosure: I am no fan of Joe Williams. Six or so years ago Lydia Segal (pictured at right), Joe and I talked about Lydia's book "Battling Corruption In America's Public Schools" at breakfast, and after this I often contacted Joe about doing a story for the Daily News on Principals out of control, kids being harmed, money disappearing. Joe would not do the articles. Then, when it was too late to help the people - parents, students, teachers - who needed their stories to be told, Joe wrote a book, "Cheating Our Kids: How Politics and Greed Ruin Education" (dont pay more than $1.73, if you decide to order this book). It's like being a reporter in a war zone and not reporting the person who shot the wrong guy.

Attack of the hedge-fund managers
by Maisie McAdoo, New York Teacher, Jun 3, 2010

Why do they care about schools? It’s all about money
Who paid for the recent mass mailing of the glossy flier attacking the UFT? In two words: hedge funds.

In the corner of the back page of the flier is the note “Paid for by Education Reform Now” and a Manhattan return address.

Education Reform Now is an arm of Democrats for Education Reform, started by former Daily News education reporter Joe Williams and boasting a board of major hedge-fund managers. Education Reform Now also promotes charter schools, mayoral control of schools and school choice (including vouchers for private and parochial schools) in New York, Michigan, Rhode Island and several other states.

But what they have is a business plan, not an education plan.

Who’s who?
John Petry, a partner at Gotham Capital Management, chairs the board of Education Reform Now. Petry’s Gotham Capital LLC, founded in 1985 with $7 million from junk-bond king Michael Milken, is a privately owned hedge fund that manages investments for wealthy clients, investing in equities as well as spin-offs, restructuring and takeovers.

The other board members are Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo of Hawkshaw Capital, founded in 2002 by a former Lehman Brothers analyst; John Sabat of SAC Capital, a Stamford, Conn.-based private investment firm; and Brian Zied of Maverick Capital, a Dallas-based investment advisor managing hedge funds and private investment funds.

Tracing their philanthropic interests leads quickly to New York City’s charter schools. Petry and Gotham Capital founder Joel Greenblatt fund Eva Moskowitz’s Harlem Success Charter Network and paid her $371,000 salary in her startup year. Goldblatt is chairman of Harlem Success’ board as well as chair of two of her individual schools. Petry sits on the boards of the Harlem Success Charter Network plus two schools. SAC Capital’s Sabat is a board member of two Harlem Success schools, Hawkshaw’s Gargiulo is a member of another, and Maverick Capital founder Steve Galbraith chairs yet another. [Greenblatt worked with J.Ezra Merkin at Gotham Captial, 1985-1988]

Education Reform Now spearheaded a $2 million media campaign this spring to try to lift the New York State charter cap without reforms. Its chapter in Milwaukee is lobbying for a mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee schools and for the survival of that city’s school voucher program. And the group recently campaigned for a slate of school board candidates in Buffalo pushing a charter school agenda.

The money trail
The latest public filing available for Education Reform Now shows it received contributions and grants of $1.3 million in 2008, up from $173,500 the year before. (Without doubt, the level of donations has skyrocketed since then.) The filing does not list the group’s benefactors, but one is the Robertson Foundation, the private foundation of Julian Robertson, the founder of the Tiger Management hedge fund.

The Robertson Foundation, which has assets in excess of $1 billion, gave away $71 million in 2008, including $250,000 to Education Reform Now, $1 million to the Achievement First charter network, $2 million to KIPP charters, $3 million to the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, $7.1 million to Teach for America and $200,000 to the New Teacher Project, along with large grants to conservative churches.

In the process, hedge fund executives have become, in the words of The New York Times, “perhaps the first significant political counterweight” to teacher unions.

Why do they care?
Hedge funds follow different investment strategies, but one thing that unites them is the absence of virtually any public information about them. Hedge funds are open only to select investors who can put up sizeable funds, and they are exempt from many financial regulations. The latest best guess is that they manage more than $2 trillion in assets exclusively for wealthy investors.

What gets hedge fund managers involved in charter schools and school reform? “Charter schools appeal to the maverick instincts of many who run hedge funds,” speculates one blog post on The New York Times website.

By tapping into this instinct, Williams has helped make charters the “hot cause,” in his words, for hedge funds. He has harnessed their anti-regulatory instincts to oppose teacher unions and advocate for private management of public schools.

The hedge funds are perverting charter schools for the purpose of attempting to privatize public education. There is already close to $2 billion in public funds in the charter school system in New York State, and the hedge funds are angling to control a chunk of that money.

The political agenda
Democrats for Education Reform is part of a Wall Street effort to influence the Democratic Party. Williams and his colleagues see trade unions, a traditional backbone of the party and defender of workers’ rights, as bureaucratic stumbling blocks to the privatizing reforms they advocate.

What’s wrong with the picture is that it excludes most teachers’ views about how to fix public schools.

Comments on the petition website of Education Reform Now didn’t exactly parrot its suggested message. One person replied, “Workers organize themselves to protect themselves from folks like you. Playing politics with teachers is what hurts the kids, not seniority.” And another: “Please, even I know it takes years to become a good teacher. Removing experienced teachers so that you can save inexpensive teachers is not going to help.”

Maybe Education Reform Now could direct some hedge fund money to prevent layoffs instead of exploiting teachers’ fears about losing their jobs to further its own political agenda.

Here's more on Joel Greenblatt:

The Joel Greenblatt Way : Grow Rich "Not Trying Very Hard"
By Brian Zen,

Would you like to earn 30% a year and turn $11,000 into $1 million in 17 years while "not trying very hard"?

If you would, I urge you to start by making a mere $20 purchase of "The Little Book That Beats The Market" by Joel Greenblatt. In the book, you will find a "magic formula" and the operating steps towards your millions.

The beauty of the magic formula is that it can be summarized in one sentence. Are you ready?

The Formula Is Simple

The magic formula says: Stick to buying "good" companies (those with a high return on tangible capital) at "cheap" prices (when you can get a high earnings yield).

That's it! The keyword here is "stick to". Based on an extensive study by Greenblatt, a dummy computer, armed with the magic formula, can more than double the market's average annual return, with very low risk and volatility. And the best of all is that it can be accomplished by "not trying very hard", as Greenblatt says, if you use his website: to pick what to buy. As to when to sell, the harder half of the investing game, Greenblatt suggested a one-year holding period as a mechanical selling rule. The idea is to remove the uncertainties and difficulties involved with selling. "I am terrible at selling myself," reflected Greenblatt, "For the formula, both the one-year and the two-year holding periods worked quite well. I picked the one year period. I call it the 'Not-Trying-Very-Hard' Model. (Audience laughed.) My mantra is to keep things simple."

The magic formula elegantly captured the essence of value investing with an astounding back-tested performance record, which is drawing huge crowds into bookstores all over the country. Even Warren Buffett joined the party recently to congratulate Greenblatt on his work. "Terrific book," Buffett said, "Buying great businesses at cheap prices. Doesn't it seem so simple?"

Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Imagine a group of smokers gathering around a Zen Master trying to learn the oriental secrets of inner peace and longevity. The Master said, "By simply following my teaching, I can add 10 years to your life span with a guarantee!" The smokers opened their eyes to the size of quarter dollar coins. The Master said, "I distilled my formula into two words. Are you listening? Two words: Stop smoking!" Immediately, the gleam in the smokers' eyes started to fade away.

The magic formula for wealth is just like the magic formula for health above, "simple but not easy," as Warren Buffett puts it.

The Execution Is Hard

Here comes the bad news. It is difficult for emotional human beings to execute a strict formula with patience and persistence. In a recent talk at a New York Barnes & Noble bookstore, Joel Greenblatt warned a crowd of about 300 fans seeking his autograph, "The magic formula is not that magic because it can underperform for a number of years in a row. Most people quit something that doesn't work for one or two years. It is tough to stick with a formula. And even if you would stick with it, you customers won't, especially after it failed to work for two years. Not many professionals and individuals can pull it off."

Yes, the results of the formula are amazing over a long period of time. But...there are still 1, 2 and even 3 year periods when the formula doesn't work at all! Most people just don't have the patience or the discipline to stick to it through the tough periods. And for those who do, the reward over the long term could be substantial.

Why Disclose The Secrets?

"Why disclose your internal secret formula that worked so well? Will it continue to work after the book hits the best-selling list?" an investor asked.

Joel Greenblatt answered he is not worried at all that, if the secret is disclosed, it would lose the magic. In fact, he is still making a good living using the strategies discussed in his first book, "You Can Be A Stock Market Genius". Besides, strategies based on ROA, ROE, enterprise value, and low P/E have already been out there for centuries. Yet they continue to work well. So will the magic formula.

More importantly, to use the magic formula, investors need faith, patience and discipline. In other words, the "real" secret is not in the book itself. The real secret lies in the execution of it. The key question here is: How can an average person successfully execute a simple strategy by cultivating patience and discipline? It is a question that puzzled the oriental Zen Masters for thousands of years. As a hobby, I run research workshops at discussing self-cultivation techniques for investors. I know first hand how hard it is to make patience and discipline as widespread as gambling and day trading.

Cheap Alone Works

Numerous studies in the past proved that buying cheap works. Joel Greenblatt has found the buying the good ones among the cheap is even better. After being Buffettized, Greenblatt now prefers the good over the cheap. But interestingly, a study by DrKW Marcro Research found that cheap alone works just as well. DrKW's study shows that the return on tangible capital (ROTC) measure of goodness seems to bring little to the party in the UK and the USA. In all the regions except Japan, the returns are higher by simply using a pure earnings yield (EY) filter instead of a combined ranking of cheapness and goodness. In general, DrKW finds that it pays to buy on the cheap. Just as Greenblatt pointed out, the good old low P/E strategy continues to work after the secret was disclosed a long time ago.

While return on tangible capital (ROTC) didn't seem to add much value to performance when the cheapness was ranked using EBIT/EV, the return on assets (ROA) measure of goodness did add a lot when the earnings yield (EY=E/P) was used as a ranking of cheapness. The DrKW study added credibility to Greenblatt's finding that EBIT/EV is a better measure than E/P.

In fact, Benjamin Graham's classic cigar butt strategy places less emphasis on the measures of goodness and quality. Let's face it, finding a good company on the cheap is not easy these days after the run away success of the Warren Buffett way. So superinvestors like Eddie Lampert switched to a strategy to buy a bad business (Kmart) at a dirt cheap price and get involved personally.

Cheap And Good Works Better

On the other hand, DrKW study confirmed Greenblatt's finding that the ROTC measure of goodness prevented the massive underperformance that occurred with the pure cheap strategy and reduced portfolio volatility to a certain extent.

In his book, Greenblatt suggests that a strategy using a standard earnings yield (E/P) and return on assets (ROA) should give results that closely mimic those of his own preferred formula. DrKW's study has found that, in general, the E/P and ROA strategy works with only slightly lower returns than the magic formula. This confirms that cheap and good is quite robust for the long term.

In his talk at Barnes & Noble, Joel Greenblatt mentioned that return on equity (ROE) and return on assets (ROA) also worked very well based on his study. But he thinks return on tangible capital employed is the best measure of goodness, which is confirmed by the DrKW study.

The bottom line is, if you buy good companies, good things tend happen more frequently.

You Don't Need Spreadsheets To Make Money

When I asked him about whether he uses spreadsheet models to value businesses. Mr. Greenblatt answered, "I really don't know how to build spreadsheet models. But the good news is that you don't need spreadsheets to make money." This echoes what Warren Buffett says that you don't even need a calculator to value a business. To Joel Greenblatt, using valuation spreadsheets might mean something on the border of "trying too hard".

I also asked Mr. Greenblatt about his filing practices. He said: "I don't keep a specific filling system for the stocks I follow. But analysts at Gotham Capital do."
Unlike Buffett who keeps physical copies of annual reports of the companies he tracks, Greenblatt doesn't keep the old annual reports.

"The most important thing is to know the value of a business and buy a lot cheaper," said Greenblatt. It seems there are many ways to value a business. Greenblatt seems to be waiting for something to hit him hard as a real bargain rather than keeping precise paper trails of valuation numbers.

Among all the various types of superinvestors around the world, there are those who focus on what is simple and basic. With great admiration, I call them the Zenway Superinvestors who stick to simple and ancient mental math and apply common sense with basic Zen principles of focus, patience and self discipline, wasting the least amount of energy and motion in nonessential activities.

Would Institutions Use The Formula?

Some suspect that the magic formula may not tango with the money management institutions. If you are a client of a hedge fund, would you be willing to pay an annual management fee of 2% on your assets plus 25% of the return to hire a hedge fund manager hitting a few computer buttons all day long following a simple formula without doing much independent thinking? This reason alone would probably prevent a widespread adoption of the magic formula investing by large institutions. How can the institutional money managers afford to let you know that they are using a dummy computer to run your money?

In response to a question about whether Gotham Capital plans to launch a mutual fund employing the magic formula, Joel Greenblatt answered: "If the magic formula fund is from me, not at the moment. If it is from someone else, I am not aware of it."

Joel Greenblatt further commented, "The Little Book was written for people who don't know how to value a business. In that regard, a good analyst can add value to the formula."

Superinvestor Digest (SiD) is a research-driven newsletter focused on generating and recognizing the best ideas from the best investors around the world. Unlike interview-driven newsletters, SiD works to distill and synthesize the vast library of value investing into a set of practices, processes, and frameworks that are easier to implement. By cutting out the fat, SiD lays out the best of the best in practical investment analysis to save valuable time for the future generations of superinvestors. For more information, please visit:

Joe Williams went to The Milwaukee Sentinal after leaving New York City, and started a push for Mayoral control there, leaving Katy Venskus to run things when he left:

Who’s Pulling the MPS Takeover Strings?
Wall Street hedge fund managers find a toehold in Wisconsin

By Lisa Kaiser,, Feb. 9, 2010

National pro-privatization organizations led by former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education reporter Joe Williams and backed by Wall Street hedge fund managers are emerging as a driving force behind the mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).

Williams is the executive director of the affiliated groups named Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and Education Reform Now (ERN), based in New York City. ERN has a nine-month-old chapter in Wisconsin, and DFER has branches in Wisconsin, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and New Jersey.
Katy Venskus
The Wisconsin state director of both groups, Katy Venskus, has been lobbying in support of the pro-mayoral takeover Senate Bill 405, authored by state Sen. Lena Taylor and state Rep. Pedro Colon.

Venskus also has organized a group of Milwaukee business leaders—including Julia Taylor of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Tim Sheehy of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and Tim Sullivan of Bucyrus International—to push for a mayor-appointed superintendent of MPS with enhanced executive powers.

But behind the public lobbying is a national network of pro-privatization elites working to radically change—some would say destroy—public education as we know it. While the pro-privatizers traditionally have been conservative Republicans and religious school supporters who back taxpayer-funded voucher schools, this group of pro-privatizers is made up mainly of conservative Democrats who see an enhanced role for the free market in public education in the form of vouchers, charter schools and mayor-led districts.

Teacher Bob Peterson, an editor of Rethinking Schools and a leader in the 28-member Coalition to Stop the MPS Takeover, said it’s “really frightening” that the pro-privatization forces have gained power within the Democratic Party.

“Democrats for Education Reform obviously have lined up with what I would call a market approach to solving social problems,” Peterson said. “As a teacher, I know that the marketplace hasn’t treated my kids very well in terms of their parents’ jobs and housing and health care. For me to think that the marketplace is going to have these solutions for education—I’m extremely skeptical.”

Milwaukee state Rep. Tamara Grigsby, who with state Sen. Spencer Coggs has authored an alternative MPS reform bill, said she is concerned that groups such as DFER and ERN are putting private interests ahead of the public good.

“Unfortunately, these so-called education reform groups are simply a veiled attempt at continuing the privatization of public education in Milwaukee,” Grigsby said. “In truth, these groups have spent more time talking about the ‘corporate role in education,’ rather than ways to improve public education itself.”

Wall Street’s Link to Education Reforms

While Wisconsinites may not be aware of the Wall Street link to a local issue like mayoral control of MPS, the New York press has begun to examine the links between hedge fund managers and Williams’ groups.

The boards of directors of both DFER and ERN are flush with Wall Street hedge fund managers who are affiliated with the New York charter school movement.

The four-person Education Reform Now board is made up of businessmen from the hedge funds Hawkshaw Capital, Gotham Capital, SAC Capital and Maverick Capital.

The board of Democrats for Education Reform also shows links between the charter school movement and “hedge fund heavies,” as TheNew York Times put it. Five of the seven board members are investors who serve on the boards of charter schools in New York. One of the charter schools, KIPP Academy, is a national network of 82 public schools in 19 states. The majority of DFER’s PAC donors are private investors.

As Williams gushed about charter schools to The New York Times, “If you’re at a hedge fund, this is definitely the hot cause.”

Lobbying for Mayoral Takeover and Voucher Schools

But Williams’ hedge-fund-friendly groups aren’t just focused on New York charter schools and the Mayor Michael Bloomberg-led public schools. The groups also are involved in the push to change the governance of MPS and the survival of the taxpayer-backed school voucher program.

Lobbyist Venskus, the Wisconsin state director of Education Reform Now Advocacy and the Democrats for Education Reform Wisconsin, is a former staffer to pro-voucher state Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee). Venskus is based in Oconomowoc and says she splits her time between Milwaukee and Madison.

“We don’t actually have an office,” Venskus said. “It’s just me right now.”

Indeed—its Dec. 16, 2009, letter to legislators backing the pro-takeover bill authored by state Sen. Lena Taylor and state Rep. Pedro Colon, features no address or phone number, just the ERN logo. Venskus herself signed the letter, identifying herself as “Democrats for Education Reform Wisconsin” without disclosing that she is a paid lobbyist for ERN, which sent the letter.

But ERN has also gotten involved in voucher school reforms. Prior to its efforts to build support for the takeover, ERN lobbied on the portions of the state budget that deal with voucher and charter schools. ERN spent $30,600 on those efforts, according to the GAB’s Web site, representing 222 hours of work on the matter. Venskus was also employed by Susan Mitchell’s pro-voucher organization, School Choice Wisconsin, to work on voucher and charter issues in the budget.

Venskus said that ERN “worked closely” with Marquette University’s Howard Fuller on the budget items. (Voucher champion Fuller has donated to the Democrats for Education Reform PAC, and serves on the board of the Education Equality Project with ex-Milwaukeean Williams.)

Stop the MPS Takeover’s Peterson said he had expected the voucher supporters to back the mayoral takeover.

“It’s clear that the voucher people are not interested in a democratically elected school board,” Peterson said. “They know that the majority sentiment in the city is for supporting the public schools. People are critical of public schools, but they know that it’s an established institution that can serve kids and there’s some public accountability.”

Rep. Grigsby was skeptical of ERN’s true motivations.

“The same special interests lobbying for Education Reform Now are those with strong ties to School Choice Wisconsin and MMAC,” she said. “I do not mean to paint all voucher advocates with the same brush, but if improving Milwaukee Public Schools was such a priority, then they should have worked with those of us committed to doing just that in the state budget. Instead, these groups were completely silent on MPS until the potential mayoral takeover became an issue.”

More Charters In the City?

Venskus said that the ERN Milwaukee coalition that signed the December letter to legislators has not taken a stand on issues such as charters and vouchers, although the national organization supports them.

“I do think there is a possibility to increase the number of high-quality charters in the city of Milwaukee with the governance change,” Venskus said. “One of the things we hope will happen is that the city will get more aggressive about seeking top-notch charter operators, finding them locally, but also recruiting from the national operators who do a good job. There are lots of folks who have looked at coming to Wisconsin, but our charter climate, particularly for independent charters, is not terribly welcoming.”

When asked if the charter allies on the board of DFER would have a financial stake in a mayoral takeover of MPS, Venskus responded, “It’s sort of an extrapolation to get there…That’s not why we’re pursuing it.”

Venskus said she can’t predict how the competing reform measures will fare in the state Legislature.

“If we can get everyone to get off of their political soapboxes and get in a room and figure out how to do this, I think we can get something done,” Venskus said.

And is Venskus herself on a soapbox?

“Umm… I’d rather not try to answer that,” she said.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Joel Klein Refuses To Make September 8, 2010, a Professional Development Day

and then he blames the UFT. Michael Mulgrew had a press conference about this, see below (That's Leroy Barr, Staff Director, standing behind Mr. Mulgrew on his left):

Statement by UFT President Michael Mulgrew:

Good afternoon.

I’d like to point out a disturbing pattern.

When things go wrong in the schools, it’s never the administration’s fault.

Class sizes skyrocket – we’re told that principals have to make their own decisions about class size.

Kindergartens have waiting lists – people live in the wrong neighborhoods.

NAEP scores are flat – the state tests are the ones that count.

The court finds the DOE violated the law in closing schools – the judge is mistaken.

The school calendar is wrong – the UFT made us do it.

Rep. Charles Rangel is flanked by UFTers LeRoy Barr and Evelyn DeJesus

We need to set the record straight about the starting day of school next fall.

Parents should be outraged that Chancellor Klein has refused to exert the authority he has to properly manage the school calendar.

The Chancellor today blamed the union for his decision not to make Wednesday, Sept. 8 a professional development day. That decision means that, despite requests from some parents to delay the first school day for children until Monday, September 13, the first school day for children will be Wednesday, Sept. 8.

The first day for teachers remains Tuesday, September 7, and teachers will be in school on Wednesday whether students are present or not.

As you might have expected, Chancellor Klein’s letter to parents ignores the fact that the Chancellor does not need to get the union’s agreement to make Sept. 8 a professional development day. It also ignores the fact that a number of schools earlier this year sought to change their individual schedules to start school for children on Monday, September 13 – and were denied by the Klein administration.
If this was not a good idea then, how has it become one now?

The union has suggested calendar changes in recent months, involving both the last day of school this year and the first day of school for students next year. Most recently we suggested this in a meeting with the administration on May 12. As in previous such meetings, we were told that the calendar was unchangeable.

Our conversations with teachers and parents in the schools indicate that communities feel very differently about the possibility of changing the first day for students next fall. We have suggested to the Chancellor that he let each school make its own decision about whether or not to start on Monday, Sept. 13, as permitted under the school-based option in our contract.

The Chancellor’s letter claims that letting each school make its own decision would be “chaotic.” But for years the system operated with different school schedules for different boroughs, and schools across the system have been permitted to create professional development days at other points in the calendar. Previous managements have been up to the challenge of managing the logistics of transportation and food service. I’m sorry to hear that Chancellor Klein feels that his managers lack this competence in this instance.

The UFT has tried to ensure that the school calendar works for families and teachers, but the responsibility for that calendar is the administration’s alone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Principal Richard Bost of Fordham Leadership Academy Terrorizes His School

Comptroller Dugan (Administrator of National Banks) met in the bank branch with students and the school principal, Richard Bost, who explains the benefits that bank branch has brought to the school. Looking on is David Isaac, a Vice President at North Fork/Capital One Bank, who has been a mentor to the students and was instrumental in the startup and ongoing operations of the bank branch.

In the past few months I have heard from staff, students, parents, and relatives of students that Principal Bost is terrorizing Fordham Leadership.
The sister of a student came for parent conferences and was followed by Mr. Bost; several teachers have claimed that Regents grades were changed; a person told me that Bost gave keys to the classrooms to a student gang who are allowed to roam the hallways; and, women do not feel safe inside the school building.

One person told me that there have been investigators looking into Bost for four years. Why?

Let's hope that soon he will be told to leave. Good work, Meredith!

Fordham Leadership Academy principal Richard Bost probed - again - in sex harass charges from staff
BY Meredith Kolodner, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, June 24th 2010

A Bronx principal found to have sexually harassed a staffer last summer is under investigation again on similar allegations, the Daily News has learned.

Investigators with the office found last year that Richard Bost of Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology groped his payroll secretary and repeatedly made lewd comments about her clothing and cleavage, sources said.

The Education Department removed the secretary from the school but kept Bost in place. He was sent to sexual harassment training and put on probation for two years, officials said.

This spring, the Office of Equal Opportunity opened another probe into whether Bost has created a hostile work environment in the school, officials said.

The office is investigating additional claims of sexual harassment and whether Bost was sexually involved with two teachers at the school, sources said.

"It's very fearful and it's chaotic," said a teacher who asked to remain anonymous. "It's not an environment that's conducive for student learning."

Bost said he was the victim of a campaign against him by employees.

"I've got a few people in the school who are extremely negative," he said. "They take it out on other staff, they take it out on the children and they take it out on me."

Some teachers said they didn't believe the charges.

"Mr. Bost has been one of the best mentors," said first-year teacher Naya Sue. "He comes into my classroom a lot, making sure I'm doing the right thing."

An Education Department official noted that none of the findings involved students.

"If further allegations are determined to be true, we will take swift and appropriate action," said Danny Kanner. "We strongly encourage anyone who has been treated improperly to come forward, and we will investigate."

“A thick, dank, fetid cloud…”

September 17, 2010 am30 7:32 am
by jd2718

Yesterday, September 16, 2010, almost 100 teachers from throughout the Bronx rallied in front of the Theodore Roosevelt building on Fordham Road to protest a sexually-harassing principal and his protection by Joel Klein. Richard Bost, the principal of Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology was found to have sexually harassed a secretary in his school, has faced numerous other allegations. He was fired, and immediately reinstated by Tweed.

Eighteen months ago, March 13, 2009, 400 teachers from throughout the Bronx protested Iris Blige, another abusive principal in the same building, at Fordham HS of the Arts, for her outrageous actions against her employees. That time, students exiting the building watched the demonstration (some may have participated). This time, Bost called an unscheduled early dismissal of the whole building to prevent students from watching? joining? speaking? – we don’t know which he fears most.

Jose Vargas, UFT Bronx Borough Representative spoke, as did District Rep Annette Carlucci, Chapter Leader Novelette Foote, and Guidance Counselor Dianne Gallagher. Lynne Winderbaum, former UFT Bronx HS District Rep (now retired) dealt with these abusive principals almost every day. She spoke passionately back in ’09 at the Arts rally. And she spoke again yesterday:

Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology was a well-respected school when Leonard Wolff turned over the reins to Richard Bost. But a cloud has hung over the Fordham Leadership Academy since Richard Bost took over. It is a low, thick, dank, fetid cloud that reeks of allegations and findings of sexual misconduct, favoritism, intimidation, and misappropriation of school funds.

It is a cloud that envelops not only the hard-working staff of this school, but the students as well. They are not only aware of the publicity surrounding the misconduct of this individual who should be their role model, but they have also articulated the discomfort they feel in his presence. The fact that anyone at all from the staff of this school has had the courage and fortitude to stand up for relief today is a miracle in the face of Mr. Bost’s carrot and stick approach to discourage speaking out. Richard Bost has repeatedly been investigated for misconduct and repeatedly been reported for sexual harassment.

As far back as October of 2008, I had lunch with Elena Papaliberios, the superintendent, at Patricia’s on Tremont Avenue and among the many issues we discussed, I warned her that I had been receiving complaints of inappropriate sexual misconduct against Richard Bost. I told her that no one wants to go on record because they are afraid for their careers but informally, I warned her to intercede and make him desist before the matter became an embarrassment. But it continued. In April of 2009, while we were at the NYSUT convention in Buffalo, I called Marge Struk, the network leader of Bost’s school. I told her the behavior was continuing and it must stop. Last spring I had a conversation with Jerry Garfin. When he told me he was working with Bost, I asked him confidentially to tell him to keep his hands off the teachers. Garfin said it was only one. I told him that there was only one brave enough to file a complaint, but there were many more reports. Bost was found guilty of sexual misconduct in that sole investigation. He was not removed. He was returned to supervise the very same secretary who lodged the complaint!! Finally, it was his accuser who had to leave!!


Bost was also investigated by SCI for misappropriation of funds. A $7000 contribution from Con Edison which was supposed to be spent on materials for the school robotics team, instead was authorized by Bost to be paid to Francine Mullins and was deposited in her personal bank account. Mullins never spent a penny on robotics material. This was a violation of Chancellor’s regulations and when the investigation was initiated by Con Edison, Mullins hastily wrote two checks four months later from her personal bank account back to the school totaling $7000. The interest-free loan and violation of DOE policy was reported to the Special Commissioner of Investigations. The investigation resulted in a slap on Bost’s wrist–a simple file letter. We don’t need to imagine the fate of a teacher charged with similarly writing checks from a school account to a personal account with no receipts.


Students were also on the receiving end of inappropriate behavior. I received a report that Bost told a student who used foul language that if he ever heard such language again, “he would shove a baseball bat up his a–.” The Chancellor’s regulations forbid, “language that tends to threaten physical harm”. I immediately called Marc Pascente, the building manager at the time, to make sure there was an OSI report on a verbal abuse violation. He sent me an email attesting to the fact that the matter had indeed been reported to Michelle Johnson, the legal counsel of the district and to the Office of Special Investigations. I do not know of any disciplinary action that resulted from that investigation. But the insistence to this day by Papaliberios and others that there was no hard evidence, flies in the face of DOE practice and policy that removes employees from a building on the mere allegation of verbal abuse, pending an investigation, whether it was ultimately true or not. It did however succeed in sending a message to students and staff that nothing would happen to this principal, regardless of what he did or how he behaved.

One might say that the Department of Education would tolerate this type of if he were a great leader of an outstanding school. But Bost’s tenure has been defined by the decline of Fordham Leadership Academy and its placement on the Race to the Top list of persistently failing schools. Besides its academic decline, it has been characterized by poor attendance and disruptive atmosphere.

And then there is that fetid cloud that permeates everything and has impeded this school from being all that it was or could be.

We call for the immediate removal of this principal and ask that the chancellor impose appropriate consequences.

I support you and wish you good luck in your fight to restore your school and your dignity!

Saturday, June 19, 2010 David Paterson is Governor, and His Brother Daniel Works For the Office of Court Administration

Having a few minutes of down time, I decided to do an interactive map on of Mr. Basil Paterson, Gov. David Paterson's father. Below is the map that I got after clicking David and his brother Daniel. Every box that has a tiny square inside at the top right is the tiny square for more links.

So, it seems that Daniel Paterson works for the New York State Office of Court Administration. Interesting, especially in those instances when Judges are appointed by Gov. David. It's all in the family.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Disqualifying Misconduct After An Employee Downloads Documents To Do Work At Home

From Mitch Rubenstein (NYSUT Attorney):

Matter of Coleman v. Commissioner of Labor, ___A.D.3d___(3d Dep't. April 15, 2010), is a tough case. An employee was found to have engaged in disqualifying misconduct by downloading sensitive documents to his thumb drive. The employee claimed he was taking work home-but the implication is that some type of theft may have been involved. And that is my problem with the decision. An implications, conjecture or an education guess should not constitute disqualifying misconduct for unemployment purposes.

The court decision stated:

Claimant was employed as a recruitment coordinator at a New York City agency for approximately nine months. While performing his duties, he failed to obtain identification information from prospective job candidates even though he had been instructed to do so. His employment was terminated when it was discovered that, in addition, he had downloaded 846 of the employer's files containing sensitive information from his computer at work onto a personal flash drive. Although claimant initially stated that he was performing his school work while on the job when questioned regarding the use of the flash drive, he later indicated that he downloaded the employer's files to permit him to take work home with his supervisor's permission. In contrast, the supervisor indicated that claimant's repeated requests for permission to bring work home had been denied. The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board credited the testimony of claimant's supervisor and ruled that he was disqualified from receiving benefits [*2]because his employment was terminated due to misconduct. Claimant appeals and we now affirm.

It is well settled that "[c]onduct that is 'detrimental to the employer's interest or in violation of a reasonable work condition' constitutes misconduct and will disqualify an employee from eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits" (Matter of Clum [All-Lifts, Inc. — Commissioner of Labor], 51 AD3d 1171, 1172 [2008], quoting Matter of DeGrego [Levine], 39 NY2d 180, 184 [1976]). Here, there was evidence that claimant's actions in downloading 846 of the employer's files containing sensitive information — in violation of the employer's code of conduct and contrary to his supervisor's directives — was both adverse to the employer's interests and a violation of a reasonable work condition. Claimant's contrary testimony that he had permission to bring work home presented a credibility issue within the Board's exclusive province to resolve (see Matter of Park [Stanford N.Y. — Commissioner of Labor], 70 AD3d 1097, 1098 [2010]; Matter of Steadman [Commissioner of Labor], 55 AD3d 1124, 1125 [2008]). Inasmuch as the Board's decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must be affirmed (see Matter of Carter [New York City Dept. of Citywide Admin. Servs. — Commissioner of Labor], 65 AD3d 1441, 1441-1442 [2009]; Matter of Steadman [Commissioner of Labor], 55 AD3d at 1124-1125; Matter of Benbow [Commissioner of Labor], 32 AD3d 1094, 1095 [2006]).

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

In another case, the alleged "misconduct" of the Appellant to the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board "did not rise to the level of disqualifying misconduct" under the circumstances.

In the Matter of the Claim of David J. Clum, Appellant. All-Lifts, Inc., Respondent; Commissioner of Labor, Respondent.

David J. Clum, Troy, appellant pro se.

Tabner, Ryan & Keniry, L.L.P., Albany (Eric N. Dratler of counsel), for All-Lifts, Inc., respondent.

Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General, New York City (Linda D. Joseph of counsel), for Commissioner of Labor, respondent.

Appeal from a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, filed July 20, 2007, which, upon reconsideration, adhered to its prior decision ruling that claimant was disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits because his employment was terminated due to misconduct.

Claimant, a crane technician, began working for the employer in May 1999. In March 2006, he received a verbal warning after he requested product literature from a supplier for a customer. At the time, claimant was advised that he was not to engage in sales functions and that any sales-related requests were to be referred to the employer's sales manager or claimant's supervisor. Thereafter, in December 2006, claimant again contacted a supplier on behalf of a customer, this time inquiring as to whether a particular demonstration unit would be available for the customer's use. When the employer learned of this activity, it terminated claimant's employment and subsequently disputed claimant's application for unemployment insurance benefits. A hearing ensued, following which the Administrative Law Judge (hereinafter ALJ) determined that "[w]hile the claimant's conduct . . . was a technical violation of the employer [*2]rules, the claimant's intent was to further the employer's interest and not do anything detrimental to those interests." Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that although claimant's actions justified his discharge, they did not rise to the level of misconduct that would disqualify him from receiving benefits. The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board reversed the ALJ's decision and denied claimant benefits and, upon reconsideration, adhered to that ruling. Claimant appeals, and we reverse.

Conduct that is "detrimental to the employer's interest or in violation of a reasonable work condition" constitutes misconduct and will disqualify an employee from eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits (Matter of De Grego [Levine], 39 NY2d 180, 184 [1976]; see Matter of Maxwell [Nigro Cos.—Commissioner of Labor], 305 AD2d 954, 954-955 [2003], lv denied 100 NY2d 511 [2003]; Matter of Marten [Eden Park Nursing Home—Commissioner of Labor], 255 AD2d 638, 638 [1998]).[FN*] Importantly, absent misconduct, an employee "will be entitled to benefits despite the fact that the employer may have fired the employee for valid reasons" (Matter of De Grego [Levine], 39 NY2d at 184).

Here, claimant was previously instructed to leave sales functions to the sales department, however, he violated those instructions by making an informational inquiry to the supplier on behalf of the customer. Nonetheless, it is uncontroverted that, in this instance, claimant's conduct was limited to one telephone call to the supplier inquiring only about the availability of the free demonstration unit. Upon this record, we cannot conclude that claimant's conduct was detrimental to the employer's interests. The employer stated that it lost no money or customers as a result of claimant's action and, in fact, conceded that claimant was probably trying to be helpful. Indeed, the record contains no evidence that would support a contrary conclusion. Nor did claimant's conduct violate a reasonable work condition (see e.g. Matter of Grant [Commissioner of Labor], 32 AD3d 563 [2006]; Matter of Maxwell [Nigro Cos.—Commissioner of Labor], 305 AD2d at 954; Matter of Greenberg [Commissioner of Labor], 286 AD2d 794 [2001]). Accordingly, under the circumstances of this case, claimant's conduct did not rise to the level of disqualifying misconduct.

Cardona, P.J., Mercure, Spain, Malone Jr. and Kavanagh, JJ., concur. Ordered that the decision is reversed, without costs, and matter remitted to the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court's decision.

Footnote *: To the extent that our prior cases have articulated a different standard or indicated that an employee's conduct must be willful and wanton in order to rise to the level of disqualifying misconduct, those cases should not be followed.

Matter of Clum (All-Lifts, Inc.\MCommissioner of Labor)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Appellate Division, Second Department, Rules That Statements Made In A Judicial Or A Quasi-Judicial Action Are Absolutely Privileged

I am not an attorney, but to me, the ruling of the Second Department means that anyone can lie about you when they testify at a proceeding - even an administrative hearing such as a 3020-a - and this person cannot be held liable for slander.

Send me your thoughts at

Betsy Combier

Statements made in the course of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding are absolutely privileged

Matter of Gaeta v Incorporated Village of Garden City, 2010 NY Slip Op 02950, Decided on April 6, 2010, Appellate Division, Second Department

Sometimes a party will file a lawsuit contending that he or she was slandered* in the course of a judicial or a quasi-judicial action such as an administrative hearing.

Frank Gaeta attempted to initiate such a lawsuit alleging slander. The allegedly slanderous statements, however, were made by a police officer during his testimony upon cross-examination at a criminal trial, and, said the court, were pertinent and material to the cross-examination and the subject matter of the proceeding.

In the course of dismissing Gaeta’s petition to file a “late notice of claim” upon the Village, the Appellate Division commented that “Statements made by parties, attorneys, and witnesses in the course of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding are absolutely privileged, notwithstanding the motive with which they are made, so long as they are material and pertinent to the issue to be resolved in the proceeding.”

* Oral statements may constitute slander; written statements may constitute libel.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Reprinted with permission New York Public Personnel Law

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2897,*;2010 NY Slip Op 2950;
897 N.Y.S.2d 653

In the Matter of Frank Gaeta, respondent, v Incorporated Village of Garden City, et al., appellants. (Index No. 3284/09)



2010 NY Slip Op 2950; 897 N.Y.S.2d 653; 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2897

April 6, 2010, Decided




COUNSEL: [*1] Cullen and Dykman LLP, Garden City, N.Y. (Elizabeth Iovino of counsel), for appellants.

Frederick J. Martorell, Brooklyn, N.Y., for respondent.




In a proceeding pursuant to General Municipal Law § 50-e(5) for leave to serve a late notice of claim, the appeal is from an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County (Iannacci, J.), entered June 1, 2009, which granted the petition.

ORDERED that the order is reversed, on the law, with costs, and the petition is denied.

While the merits of a claim ordinarily are not considered on a motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim, where the proposed claim is patently without merit, leave to serve a late notice of claim should be denied (see Matter of Catherine G. v County of Essex, 3 NY3d 175, 179, 818 N.E.2d 1110, 785 N.Y.S.2d 369; Matter of Besedina v New York City Tr. Auth., 47 AD3d 924, 925, 850 N.Y.S.2d 199; Matter of State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v Village of Bronxville, 24 AD3d 453, 805 N.Y.S.2d 651).

Here, the petitioner sought leave to serve a late notice of claim alleging slander. The allegedly slanderous statements, however, were made by Police Officer Errol [*2] Wedra during his testimony upon cross-examination at a criminal trial, and were pertinent and material to the cross-examination and the subject matter of the proceeding (see Harper v Farensbach, 8 AD3d 341, 777 N.Y.S.2d 711; Walton v Markan, 262 AD2d 478, 479, 692 N.Y.S.2d 150; Romeo v Village of Fishkill, 248 AD2d 700, 670 N.Y.S.2d 772; Allan & Allan Arts v Rosenblum, 201 AD2d 136, 615 N.Y.S.2d 410, cert denied 516 U.S. 914, 116 S. Ct. 301, 133 L. Ed. 2d 207). Statements made by parties, attorneys, and witnesses in the course of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding are absolutely privileged, notwithstanding the motive with which they are made, so long as they are material and pertinent to the issue to be resolved in the proceeding (see Rosenberg v Metlife, Inc., 8 NY3d 359, 365, 866 N.E.2d 439, 834 N.Y.S.2d 494; Ingber v Mallilo, 52 AD3d 569, 570, 860 N.Y.S.2d 180; Rufeh v Schwartz, 50 AD3d 1002, 1004, 858 N.Y.S.2d 194; Sinrod v Stone, 20 AD3d 560, 561, 799 N.Y.S.2d 273; Matter of Dunn v Ladenburg Thalmann & Co., 259 AD2d 544, 545, 686 N.Y.S.2d 471).

Accordingly, the petition for leave to serve a late notice of claim alleging slander should have been denied.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Winning Your 3020-a: Should You Settle?


Anyone going into a 3020-a, who is charged with misconduct or incompetency, or has been told they must/should settle/mediate his/her case, LISTEN UP:

If you do not go through your hearing and thus do not get a decision on the merits of the case from your arbitrator, the New York City Board/Department of Education will keep you on the Ineligible/Inquiry List forever. You will not be declared "innocent" if you settle your case even if you agree to retire.

My suggestion? DONT SETTLE IF YOU ARE INNOCENT OF MISCONDUCT/INCOMPETENCY. I have observed the 3020-a process for seven years, and it is not a fair process for many people, and several arbitrators show bias against Respondents during their Hearings, which can be appealed to the New York State Supreme Court as an Article 7511. Staying in the appeal process is the best way to go until the victims of the NYC BOE Black List can be given information of how to be removed from this "LIST"

By the way, I heard that as of several weeks ago, the List was replaced by a payroll code.

Below are the emails that a retired teacher sent me a year after he settled. He was shocked to find out that even though he had settled his case, he was still listed as 'ineligible'.

As you all know - if you have read my website or this blog - Theresa Europe is the Director of the Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) at 51 Chambers Street New York City. She is the leader of The Gotcha Squad.

Here are the emails:

Hi Betsy,
I, as well as scores of others, were placed on an Ineligible List. This list, according to Theresa Europe is forever! What this does in effect, is to prevent me from ever working in private special education. Keep in mind...I won my case,all charges were dropped, all money I WOULD HAVE MADE in summer programs was given to me...

From: Mr. Teacher
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:18 AM
To: Europe Theresa;
Subject: Inquiry list?

Dear Ms. Europe,

... My frustration comes from the fact that I was not found guilty of anything, monies were returned to me and still for some reason I can't fathom; I am being punished after my retirement. Please keep in mind, that I fully cooperated with the DoE on my as well as other related matters involving a prior lawsuit and its protagonists. We enjoyed a cordial and professional relationship which I trust has not been destroyed. I ask again, that you reconsider and assist me in removing my name from the Inquiry/Ineligible list.


Mr. Teacher

Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2010 1:42 PM
To: Europe Theresa
Subject: Re: Inquiry list?

Dear Ms. Europe:

I have found an employer that is interested in employing me as a consultant. They checked the Ineligible list and will not begin my employment unless and until my name is removed from that list. My name was placed on that list before any hearings began. My point is simple. I was not found guilty of anything. I retired of my own free will and agreed to irrevocable retirement. I was refunded monies as proof of my innocence. There is no reason in the world for my name to be on a list which blackballs me. Please take whatever measures necessary to remove my name from this list. It is inappropriate to punish people when they are innocent especially when they retire.


Mr. Teacher

Theresa Europe

-----Original Message-----
From: Europe Theresa
Cc: Gordon Andrew
Sent: Thu, May 13, 2010 12:36 pm
Subject: RE: Inquiry list?
Good Afternoon,

You are not precluded from working with all vendors but there are some who must check the Inquiry List as part of their contractual terms with the DOE. Should you find a vendor who is interested in hiring you, and they are required to check the Inquiry List, please contact Human Resources as they will review the matter and determine whether your employment with that vendor is appropriate.
Theresa Europe

...I am trying to assist you however, that seems impossible. You spoke of a vendor months ago that which you claim wanted to hire you. I called that person not once but TWICE to discuss your potential employment with that vendor to which, she never returned my call (which leads me to believe that while she may have told you that she wanted to hire you, she actually didn’t since she didn’t return my calls).

You will not be removed from the list. You entered into a stipulation of settlement wherein you irrevocably retired. As such, with EVERY irrevocable retirement/resignation, the person is placed on this list. (emphasis added by Editor) You were not refunded any monies as proof of innocence. We entered into a stipulation and agreed upon terms. If you wanted to be found innocent, you had the option of proceeding with a hearing on the merits. Since the arbitrator did not hear any testimony, you certainly cannot say you were found innocent and conversely, the District cannot say you were found guilty. The merits were not addressed. I have attempted to help you but clearly, your focus is only being removed from the list which we are not going to do. Again, and for the last time, if whatever vendor you claim WANTS to hire you, they should contact Andrew Gordon. You will receive no further communication from this office.

Theresa Europe

How The New York City "Gotcha Squad" Gets Tenured Teachers Declared "Incompetent", and Placed in a Rubber Room by Betsy Combier

PANG v NYC Board of Education

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letter To Joel Klein From The International Arts Business High School (IABS)

I received the letter that I am posting below, from an anonymous source. Therefore, I am not verifying the truth of the content, I am posting the letter for information only and am not the creator of the information. Evidently the staff of IABS want to get in touch with Joel Klein.

Betsy Combier

To Chancellor Klein:

Teachers who teach at New Visions schools work tirelessly and enthusiastically to fulfill the “new vision,” which is to ensure that “all students reach their full potential and become productive citizens,” (New Visions website).

These educators have bought into the New Visions alternative approach, which is to educate inner city students, particularly economically disadvantaged children who would have otherwise fallen through the cracks of the New York City public school system.

It is certainly a teacher’s dream to be a part of an educational institution which would foster “the exploration and implementation of new ways to engage students,” as well as one that serves to “increase the relevancy and rigor of classroom polices.” Teachers value the fact that New Visions schools have the New Visions Organization behind them, and these educators can seek assistance when needed from the ‘mother ship’. Indeed, this propels visionary educators to eagerly and willingly seek employment in New Visions schools as opposed to traditional New York City High Schools.

However, in order for this new alternative approach towards education to be fully realized there must be consistent collaboration and trust among all parties: parents, students, teachers, community and administration. A partnership of this kind is vital. Fair treatment of all team members is the only way to achieve the trust necessary to reach our collaborative goals with the children. Weakening any part of the collaborative effort can be fatal to maintaining any comprehensive, potentially effective educational plan, particularly if that weakness is generated from the administration.

The administrative staff of The International Arts Business High School (IABS) routinely uses intimidation toward staff and personnel who work inside the building, and thus impede implementation of the “new vision” described above. Principal Sheila Hanley is an administrator whose behavior is inconsistent with the goals and ideologies of New Visions, and who shows little or no regard either for the bargaining agreement between the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Department of Education (DOE), or the Chancellor’s Regulations.

Additionally, Mrs. Hanley’s rather peculiar approach to governance has far-reaching negative effects, including adversely impacting the educational progress of students. An example can be seen in the lack of significant improvement in the school’s graduation rate. Since Hanley’s ascension to the position of Principal, we have witnessed an alarming decay in the culture of the school, fierce disunity between teachers and administrators, and student rebellion expressed in a myriad of ways. It is not an exaggeration to state that IABS is in constant chaos. Indeed, the “writing is on the wall” that Principal Hanley’s actions will ultimately lead to the demise of IABS, unless preventive measures are immediately instituted.

Mrs. Sheila Hanley’s handling, or mishandling, of incidents shows that she believes she is above adherence to the laws that govern the New York City educational process. Staff have seen partiality involved in her jurisprudence, and her apparent inability to arbitrate “legal matters” without her racial bias being a factor in the outcome of the cases.

An incident involving former “teacher A” is a case in point. During a staff meeting, teacher A referred to the student-body of IABS as consisting of “feral kids.” The student-body of IABS is largely, if not completely, made up of students of African descent. As he continued to express his thoughts, his ire increased. He was on a rampage. “They are like wild animals from Africa,” declared the perturbed teacher. In his fervor, he further disclosed that the students were “all special ed. kids” and that a proper evaluation would “prove” his inclinations correct. He urged all of us to press parents to evaluate their “feral kids,” even the ones whom he claimed to have been disruptive in his class. During his speech, there was absolute silence in the room, except for the barely audible fidgeting and discomfort of African American staff members who thereafter expressed outrage towards the Caucasian teacher’s apparent racist diatribe of students of African heritage. What was interesting, however, was that the all-white Administration hardly seemed concerned over this expressed “world view,” even although it violated DOE regulations. For example, Assistant Principal Rice was knowledgeable of teacher A’s egregious remarks. Although Rice was mandated by DOE laws to report the incident to the Office of Special Investigation (OSI), Rice chose, instead, to “sweep it under the rug,” to the amazement of those who heard the racist rant.

The lack of administrative response to this breach of the Chancellors’ Regulation is by no means an aberration. The question of racial bias was raised in other incidents as well. In fact, the issue of administrative bias seems to play a primary role in the ultimate outcome of all matters brought to the Principal’s attention. After being informed of the complaints involving her white staff, Mrs. Hanley typically does nothing but arbitrate the cases, and none of the white employees were sent to the “rubber room”.

As the Administration turns a “blind eye” to racial remarks, there was no deterrent to this outrageous behavior.

Some teachers describe Hanley’s lack of concern as “racism.” They saw racial bias in Mrs. Hanley’s treatment of an African American Social Studies Teacher and UFT Chapter leader who was sent to the rubber room for a minor violation and then waited six months for an OSI investigation. OSI, in their report, insisted that Mrs. Hanley should have never suggested removing this person from the classroom and should have handled the case in house, herself.

Still, Mrs. Hanley was determined to have it her way, and wrote in the OSI report that she felt “threatened” by the Chapter Leader. This particular claim was never substantiated by OSI, yet this teacher remains in the rubber room, a decision which has generated teacher and student protests.

The point being made here is that the Administrative staff at IABS clearly shows favoritism evidenced in the way in which it administers justice. The chapter leader is not Caucasian, and has received a much harsher treatment for a lesser crime. From this perspective, one could see why Mrs. Hanley’s approach to justice not only warrants review, but reveals why IABS’ teaching staff now feel as though at any moment that they too could be subjected to the “whims” and “wanes” of Hanley’s random and arbitrary jurisprudence.

The partiality inherent in Principal Hanley’s jurisprudence is evident even in the way in which she has adjudicated cases that involved members of her own administrative staff. Consider the relationship between Ms. Martinelli and a teacher. A reliable source was an eyewitness to Ms. Martinelli, an administrator, and a teacher behaving in a sexually inappropriate way on the IABS campus in a school building. Subsequently the teacher became the leader of the school’s Inquiry Team and garnered the Dean’s position, even although he was the least qualified among many applicants. He told many staff members that he no longer worries about being observed by the administration. To the rest of the staff, his quick ascension to positions of leadership and his lack of concern over supervision now makes sense. Ms. Martinelli conducted his observations, thus he was guaranteed a satisfactory rating. Their relationship became omnipresent, particularly when the news spread among the students. A female student saw them kissing in the hallways. In fact, the supervisor and her “underling” seemed to no longer concern themselves with public opinion when they boasted about their romantic weekend getaway to Virginia Beach. They are now engaged to be married.

Other teachers are not as fortunate. For instance, Mrs. Hanley’s last minute cancellation of the senior prom for the most recent graduating class generated protest among the student body. Students who had planned to attend the affair had already bought their dresses and suits and had paid other bills for the event. Mrs. Hanley strongly objected to the reimbursement of funds lost by affected students. The Principal was not even open to negotiations or discussions of this. However, the students were just as adamant in their demand for justice as Ms. Hanley was unyielding to their demands. Through the use of accepted methods such as posters, flyers and songs, students protested their right to have a prom, which they viewed as “a rite of passage”. It was reported that one of the students went as far as to contact the media and was quickly punished by the administration. Because of her close ties with certain members of the senior class under consideration, the rebelling students asked a teacher they knew and considered an ally to act as their representative voice. This teacher in turn sought to immediately discuss the matter with Mrs. Hanley who dismissed her pleas for an alternative solution. Yet this teacher did not acquiesce. Instead, she sought other avenues through which to effectively resolve the escalating problem.

She brought the issue to the attention of Mr. Small who was, and remains, currently in charge of C.O.S.A.. In expressing the general sentiment of the graduating seniors, this teacher stated to Mr. Small that Mrs. Hanley’s behavior could be construed as racist as the population of the school is largely African American. Mrs. Martinelli happened to have over-heard the conversation. Mrs. Martinelli convinced Mrs. Hanley that this teacher referred to her and the Principal as racists. The witch hunt began, and the teacher thereafter received numerous unannounced observations. Her request for pre-observations prior to being formally observed “fell on deaf ears.” The administration constantly walked into her room with note pads and pens in hand and began to jot things down while she was teaching, as a form of intimidation. Things did not stop there. She was told that she was no longer allowed to teach dance for reasons that still make little sense to her. Instead, the administration found it appropriate to assign her as a permanent substitute teacher for classes outside of her licensed area. The surprise observations have persisted, with their accompanying Unsatisfactory Ratings.

The Administrative staff’s abuse of people in the school is not limited to teachers, school aides, and paraprofessionals. Unsuspecting students also experience this harassment. For example, a young girl who lost her metro card on her way from school and had no other means of getting home was verbally abused by Hanley, and denied another card. A teacher happened to overhear the Principal, and this teacher helped the student get home and then informed both the UFT Chapter Leader and the President of the School Leadership Team about the situation. For this reason, this teacher began to receive surprise observations from Mrs. Hanley in addition to frequent unannounced visits to her classroom as a means to further intimidate her. Intimidation of this kind is Mrs. Hanley’s way of silencing those who choose not to acquiesce to her abusive regime.

Assistant Principal Sean Rice physically abused a student, “DW”, a student with special needs. Frustrated with this student’s behavior, Mr. Rice shoved him into the side of a wall of the school building, where the affected student shrieked in obvious pain. No one saw Rice get reprimanded.

Another way in which Administration deals with troubled students is by reassigning them to other programs. For example, Mrs. Hanley, working in conjunction with her Assistant Principals, rid the school of any student whom they believed would potentially negatively impact the School’s report card. That Mrs. Hanley received an F-rating on her report card, in addition to IABS attaining an overall grade of D, did not deter her irrational behavior. Instead, it seemed to have resulted in her increasing the harassment towards her teaching staff. After she became knowledgeable about the grades in question, she immediately called a staff meeting where she blamed and threatened the teachers for the school’s poor grade, while exonerating herself from any responsibility. Indeed, this was not the end of Mrs. Hanley’s apparent irrational behavior. She expressed even greater anxiety over the upcoming school’s Quality Review. The potential grade on the school’s “progress report” took precedent over that of students’ learning. At a Parent Association meeting, she attempted to manipulate the parents into scoring the school favorably on the surveys sent out by the NYC Board of Education that is supposed to elicit honest answers about the school environment, curriculum, teaching staff, and overall accomplishments.

Another way in which she sought to manipulate results was by pressuring the teaching staff. “The school will close,” Mrs. Hanley threatened, “and you all will be out of a job.” In support of Mrs. Hanley, Mr. Rice cautioned the staff that the current administration should be blamed for the most recent school’s report card grade. Assistant Principal Rice supported Mrs. Hanley in her attempt to skew the result of the Quality Review.

Principal Sheila Hanley’s unorthodox ways of treating her staff serves only to adversely affect the lives of her teachers, and more importantly, to negatively impact the social, as well as the educational well being of the students entrusted to her care. The students, by and large, sense Mrs. Hanley’s hatred towards them. The most recent graduation class “booed her” as soon as she approached the microphone during the graduation ceremony, and this has never before occurred in the history of the school.

That Mrs. Hanley’s peculiar style of governance negatively impacts the culture of the school is indisputable. It is also undeniable that both students and the teaching staff alike have lost respect for the administrative staff of IABS, which tends to focus more on obtaining a passing grade on the school’s progress report and getting what they want through intimidation, threats, manipulation, schemes, scare tactics, and other gotcha methods.

Indeed, Mrs. Hanley fails to provide a mission statement for our school. Although we are an arts and business school, this theme is not reflected in the curriculum. The time spent on demoralizing the teaching staff could be better used to design alternative ways to meet the academic needs of our students.
It is fair to argue that the buck stops with Mrs. Hanley, who lacks vision. Without a vision the school is doomed to perish.

Far removed from the New Vision New Century model for viable functioning school, the International Arts Business High School is a 21st Century nightmare. We, the teachers, parents and staff at IABS ask for your assistance in removing Mrs. Sheila Hanley from the school.
Thank you.