Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Personal View From Betsy Combier On NYSUT And What The Attorneys Do Wrong In The 3020-a Process

To all NYSUT Attorneys who know me and wish I had never attended any 3020-a hearings: stop belittling me to your clients. It never ceases to amaze me that you feel that you can threaten, yell at, and otherwise intimidate your clients and think that they will not talk to me and others about every word you have said. Some of you say I am a terrific advocate, but all of you tell your clients not to talk with me, and certainly not to listen to me because I dont know what I'm saying. Teachers, dont listen to this. It's their fear that compels them, their fear of ending up on this blog or somewhere else, with a true picture of their wrong-doing in the 3020-a hearing (yours) when a decision comes back saying that you have been terminated or suspended without pay for a year after your defense successfully proved your guilt. That's right, you are guilty until proven innocent at these hearings.

NYSUT attorneys are not doing their job of proving that the charges brought against you do not rise to the level of termination, a year without pay, or some other award. A point of clarification: if you are guilty of maliciously harming a child, deliberately deceiving or stealing  from someone, I am not talking about you. Let's assume for the rest of this post I am referring to all tenured folk who never did anything wrong, or accidentally touched a shoulder or some accident happened that got you into the guilty column at the NYC headquarters.

Back to the wrong-doing. I'll give you some examples to think about. Did your NYSUT attorney tell you that he/she will subpoena your principal and AP so that you can get direct testimony from the people who charged you? (Cross-examination only allows your representative/lawyer to ask questions relative to what opposing counsel asked already). Were all exhibits you provided your attorney that showed your innocence submitted to the arbitrator as exhibits in your defense? Is your attorney arguing that as 3020-a states that your charges must be voted on by a school board before you are charged (look at your packet for 3020-a, APPENDIX A), your charges must be dismissed? If not, perhaps you should think about getting other representation.

I'm not an attorney, it's true. I'm an advocate, which means that I am a person who "assists, defends, or pleads for another...An assistant...pleader of causes." (Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition - p.55 -thanks, Polo). I read law books, I do my legal research at all the law libraries in town, due to the kind donations of wonderful folk who contribute to my work. I do not represent anyone in a courtroom, nor do I give legal advice. Legal information easily accessible on the internet, and what I see and hear with my own two green eyes and my ears is mine to give to whomever I want to talk to, which is everybody.

More than a year ago I asked Claude Hersh, chief counsel at NYSUT NY (52 Broadway, 9th floor, 212-533-6300), to please ask Attorneys Mitchell "Mitch" Rubenstein and Melinda Gordon to stop threatening dire consequences if their clients spoke to me. Neither of these attorneys stopped, and I have heard that both are being fired by their clients (not just because they say not to speak with me) as a result of their perceived incompetence or intimidating tactics. In fact, later today, September 27, 2010, I have been asked to attend an open and public hearing where the client fired Melinda last week, and found a new private attorney. I defend rights, and I cannot and will not be silent when the due process rights are denied to anyone. This is the bottom line.

And what's even better, I get to decide when, where, and by whom these rights are being violated, on these pages, and on my website and my other blogs, including New York Court Corruption, another topic that breaks my heart (and caused my heart to almost stop on July 22, 2006).

So, back to NYSUT and what the attorneys do wrong. I'm not going to list everything here, I'll just leave you with a few examples. Maybe my speaking out will make things worse, maybe better. What matters is that if you are yelled at and treated without respect by your NYSUT attorney - or anyone, for that matter - tell me. Tell someone. It's not ok.

To all readers who have been fortunate enough not to have this experience, let me give you a general picture, taken from seven (7) years of attending 3020-a hearings at the request of respondent tenured teachers who know that it is their right to have an open and public hearing. Read the contract for rules of the 3020-a arbitration. Oh yes, let's not forget that no attorney wants you to have an open and public hearing. Think about it. If you are allowed to have people -unknown people - come into your hearing and sit there, this person or these people can watch your attorney do his/her job, and that's not a good thing if you are the attorney, and you know that you are not doing a good job, not following the law or your ethical mandate, and/or the deal has been pre-set as to penalty before you ever begin. You dont want any extra eyes watching you, unless you know you are doing an excellent job of defending your client. At least that's what I think. I, for one, know who you are.

Below is Article 61, Section 3020-a, copied and pasted exactly as it is on the internet. Read it, and if your charges were not voted on by the New York City school board (Panel For Educational Policy), then how  come the arbitrator thinks that he/she can determine Just Cause?

Think about it.

Betsy Combier
September 27, 2010

New York Education - Article 61 - § 3020-A Disciplinary Procedures and Penalties

§ 3020-a. Disciplinary procedures and penalties. 1. Filing of charges.

All charges against a person enjoying the benefits of tenure as provided in subdivision three of section one thousand one hundred two, and sections two thousand five hundred nine, two thousand five hundred
seventy-three, twenty-five hundred ninety-j, three thousand twelve and three thousand fourteen of this chapter shall be in writing and filed with the clerk or secretary of the school district or employing board
during the period between the actual opening and closing of the school year for which the employed is normally required to serve. Except as provided in subdivision eight of section two thousand five hundred
seventy-three and subdivision seven of section twenty-five hundred ninety-j of this chapter, no charges under this section shall be brought more than three years after the occurrence of the alleged incompetency or misconduct, except when the charge is of misconduct constituting a crime when committed.

2. (a) Disposition of charges. Upon receipt of the charges, the clerk or secretary of the school district or employing board shall immediately notify said board thereof. Within five days after receipt of charges,
the employing board, in executive session, shall determine, by a vote of a majority of all the members of such board, whether probable cause exists to bring a disciplinary proceeding against an employee pursuant to this section. If such determination is affirmative, a written statement specifying the charges in detail, the maximum penalty which will be imposed by the board if the employee does not request a hearing or that will be sought by the board if the employee is found guilty of the charges after a hearing and outlining the employee's rights under this section, shall be immediately forwarded to the accused employee by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested or by personal delivery to the employee.

(b) The employee may be suspended pending a hearing on the charges and the final determination thereof. The suspension shall be with pay, except the employee may be suspended without pay if the employee has
entered a guilty plea to or has been convicted of a felony crime concerning the criminal sale or possession of a controlled substance, a precursor of a controlled substance, or drug paraphernalia as defined in article two hundred twenty or two hundred twenty-one of the penal law; or a felony crime involving the physical abuse of a minor or student.

The employee shall be terminated without a hearing, as provided for in this section, upon conviction of a sex offense, as defined in subparagraph two of paragraph b of subdivision seven-a of section three hundred five of this chapter. To the extent this section applies to an employee acting as a school administrator or supervisor, as defined in subparagraph three of paragraph b of subdivision seven-b of section three hundred five of this chapter, such employee shall be terminated without a hearing, as provided for in this section, upon conviction of a felony offense defined in subparagraph two of paragraph b of subdivision seven-b of section three hundred five of this chapter.

(c) Within ten days of receipt of the statement of charges, the employee shall notify the clerk or secretary of the employing board in writing whether he or she desires a hearing on the charges and when the charges concern pedagogical incompetence or issues involving pedagogical judgment, his or her choice of either a single hearing officer or a three member panel. All other charges shall be heard by a single hearing officer.

(d) The unexcused failure of the employee to notify the clerk or secretary of his or her desire for a hearing within ten days of the receipt of charges shall be deemed a waiver of the right to a hearing.

Where an employee requests a hearing in the manner provided for by this section, the clerk or secretary of the board shall, within three working days of receipt of the employee's notice or request for a hearing, notify the commissioner of education of the need for a hearing. If the employee waives his or her right to a hearing the employing board shall proceed, within fifteen days, by a vote of a majority of all members of such board, to determine the case and fix the penalty, if any, to be imposed in accordance with subdivision four of this section.

3. Hearings. a. Notice of hearing. Upon receipt of a request for a hearing in accordance with subdivision two of this section, the commissioner of education shall forthwith notify the American Arbitration Association (hereinafter "association") of the need for a hearing and shall request the association to provide to the commissioner forthwith a list of names of persons chosen by the association from the association's panel of labor arbitrators to potentially serve as hearing officers together with relevant biographical information on each arbitrator. Upon receipt of said list and biographical information, the commissioner of education shall forthwith send a copy of both simultaneously to the employing board and the employee.

b. (i) Hearing officers. All hearings pursuant to this section shall be conducted before and by a single hearing officer selected as provided for in this section. A hearing officer shall not be eligible to serve as such if he or she is a resident of the school district, other than the city of New York, under the jurisdiction of the employing board, an employee, agent or representative of the employing board or of any labor organization representing employees of such employing board, has served as such agent or representative within two years of the date of the scheduled hearing, or if he or she is then serving as a mediator or fact finder in the same school district. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the hearing officer shall be compensated by the department with the customary fee paid for service as an arbitrator under the auspices of the association for each day of actual service plus necessary travel and other reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of his or her duties. All other expenses of the disciplinary proceedings shall be paid in accordance with rules promulgated by the commissioner of education.

(ii) Not later than ten days after the date the commissioner mails to the employing board and the employee the list of potential hearing officers and biographies provided to the commissioner by the association, the employing board and the employee, individually or through their agents or representatives, shall by mutual agreement select a hearing officer from said list to conduct the hearing and shall notify the commissioner of their selection.

(iii) If the employing board and the employee fail to agree on an arbitrator to serve as a hearing officer from said list and so notify the commissioner within ten days after receiving the list from the commissioner, the commissioner shall request the association to appoint a hearing officer from said list.

(iv) In those cases in which the employee elects to have the charges heard by a hearing panel, the hearing panel shall consist of the hearing officer, selected in accordance with this subdivision, and two additional persons, one selected by the employee and one selected by the employing board, from a list maintained for such purpose by the commissioner of education. The list shall be composed of professional personnel with administrative or supervisory responsibility, professional personnel without administrative or supervisory responsibility, chief school administrators, members of employing boards and others selected from lists of nominees submitted to the commissioner by statewide organizations representing teachers, school administrators and supervisors and the employing boards. Hearing panel members other than the hearing officer shall be compensated by the department of education at the rate of one hundred dollars for each day of actual service plus necessary travel and subsistence expenses. The hearing officer shall be compensated as set forth in this subdivision. The hearing officer shall be the chairman of the hearing panel.

c. Hearing procedures. (i) The commissioner of education shall have the power to establish necessary rules and procedures for the conduct of hearings under this section. Such rules shall not require compliance
with technical rules of evidence. Hearings shall be conducted by the hearing officer selected pursuant to paragraph b of this subdivision with full and fair disclosure of the nature of the case and evidence against the employee by the employing board and shall be public or private at the discretion of the employee. The employee shall have a reasonable opportunity to defend himself or herself and an opportunity to testify in his or her own behalf. The employee shall not be required to testify. Each party shall have the right to be represented by counsel, to subpoena witnesses, and to cross-examine witnesses. All testimony taken shall be under oath which the hearing officer is hereby authorized to administer. A competent stenographer, designated by the commissioner of education and compensated by the state education department, shall keep and transcribe a record of the proceedings at each such hearing. A copy of the transcript of the hearings shall, upon request, be furnished without charge to the employee and the board of education involved.

(ii) The hearing officer selected to conduct a hearing under this section shall, within ten to fifteen days of agreeing to serve as such, hold a pre-hearing conference which shall be held in the school district or county seat of the county, or any county, wherein the employing school board is located. The pre-hearing conference shall be limited in length to one day except that the hearing officer, in his or her discretion, may allow one additional day for good cause shown.

(iii) At the pre-hearing conference the hearing officer shall have the power to:

(A) issue subpoenas;

(B) hear and decide all motions, including but not limited to motions to dismiss the charges;

(C) hear and decide all applications for bills of particular or requests for production of materials or information, including, but not limited to, any witness statement (or statements), investigatory
statement (or statements) or note (notes), exculpatory evidence or any other evidence, including district or student records, relevant and material to the employee's defense.

(iv) Any pre-hearing motion or application relative to the sufficiency of the charges, application or amendment thereof, or any preliminary matters shall be made upon written notice to the hearing officer and the adverse party no less than five days prior to the date of the pre-hearing conference. Any pre-hearing motions or applications not made as provided for herein shall be deemed waived except for good cause as
determined by the hearing officer.

(v) In the event that at the pre-hearing conference the employing board presents evidence that the professional license of the employee has been revoked and all judicial and administrative remedies have been
exhausted or foreclosed, the hearing officer shall schedule the date, time and place for an expedited hearing, which hearing shall commence not more than seven days after the pre-hearing conference and which shall be limited to one day. The expedited hearing shall be held in the local school district or county seat of the county or any county, wherein the said employing board is located. The expedited hearing shall not be postponed except upon the request of a party and then only for good cause as determined by the hearing officer. At such hearing, each party shall have equal time in which to present its case.

(vi) During the pre-hearing conference, the hearing officer shall determine the reasonable amount of time necessary for a final hearing on the charge or charges and shall schedule the location, time(s) and date(s) for the final hearing. The final hearing shall be held in the local school district or county seat of the county, or any county, wherein the said employing school board is located. In the event that the hearing officer determines that the nature of the case requires the final hearing to last more than one day, the days that are scheduled for
the final hearing shall be consecutive. The day or days scheduled for the final hearing shall not be postponed except upon the request of a party and then only for good cause shown as determined by the hearing
officer. In all cases, the final hearing shall be completed no later than sixty days after the pre-hearing  conference unless the hearing officer determines that extraordinary circumstances warrant a limited extension.

4. Post hearing procedures. (a) The hearing officer shall render a written decision within thirty days of the last day of the final hearing, or in the case of an expedited hearing within ten days of such expedited hearing, and shall forthwith forward a copy thereof to the commissioner of education who shall immediately forward copies of the decision to the employee and to the clerk or secretary of the employing board. The written decision shall include the hearing officer's findings of fact on each charge, his or her conclusions with regard to each charge based on said findings and shall state what penalty or other action, if any, shall be taken by the employing board. At the request of the employee, in determining what, if any, penalty or other action shall
be imposed, the hearing officer shall consider the extent to which the employing board made efforts towards correcting the behavior of the employee which resulted in charges being brought under this section through means including but not limited to: remediation, peer intervention or an employee assistance plan. In those cases where a penalty is imposed, such penalty may be a written reprimand, a fine, suspension for a fixed time without pay, or dismissal. In addition to or in lieu of the aforementioned penalties, the hearing officer, where he or she deems appropriate, may impose upon the employee remedial action including but not limited to leaves of absence with or without pay, continuing education and/or study, a requirement that the employee seek counseling or medical treatment or that the employee engage in any other remedial or combination of remedial actions.

(b) Within fifteen days of receipt of the hearing officer's decision the employing board shall implement the decision. If the employee is acquitted he or she shall be restored to his or her position with full pay for any period of suspension without pay and the charges expunged from the employment record. If an employee who was convicted of a felony crime specified in paragraph (b) of subdivision two of this section, has said conviction reversed, the employee, upon application, shall be entitled to have his pay and other emoluments restored, for the period from the date of his suspension to the date of the decision.

(c) The hearing officer shall indicate in the decision whether any of the charges brought by the employing board were frivolous as defined in section eight thousand three hundred three-a of the civil practice law
and rules. If the hearing officers finds that all of the charges brought against the employee were frivolous, the hearing officer shall order the employing board to reimburse the state education department the
reasonable costs said department incurred as a result of the proceeding and to reimburse the employee the reasonable costs, including but not limited to reasonable attorneys' fees, the employee incurred in defending the charges. If the hearing officer finds that some but not all of the charges brought against the employee were frivolous, the hearing officer shall order the employing board to reimburse the state education department a portion, in the discretion of the hearing officer, of the reasonable costs said department incurred as a result of the proceeding and to reimburse the employee a portion, in the discretion of the hearing officer, of the reasonable costs, including but not limited to reasonable attorneys' fees, the employee incurred in defending the charges.

5. Appeal. Not later than ten days after receipt of the hearing officer's decision, the employee or the employing board may make an application to the New York state supreme court to vacate or modify the
decision of the hearing officer pursuant to section seven thousand five hundred eleven of the civil practice law and rules. The court's review shall be limited to the grounds set forth in such section. The hearing panel's determination shall be deemed to be final for the purpose of such proceeding. In no case shall the filing or the pendency of an appeal delay the implementation of the decision of the hearing officer.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Teacher Townhall 12PM Sunday, September 26, 2010

Town hall

Hosted by Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the Teacher Town Hall will bring together teachers from across the country, both in-person and online, to brainstorm ideas, talk about what works in the classroom, and highlight the challenges of today’s education system.

Brian Williams

The Teacher Town Hall will air LIVE on MSNBC and stream at,, and at 12pm EDT on Sunday, September 26th.

A live chat, hosted exclusively for teachers, will be available here at During the Teacher Town Hall, teachers who are present at the event and logged in from across the country will be asked to weigh in on the big issues regarding education in America.


Teachers - make your voices heard.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teachers Fight Back

Teachers I know are angry. Now, it's time to not take it anymore. 

We’re Not Going to Take it Anymore! Teachers Fight Back
By Alan Haskvitz


About: Alan Haskvitz is a member of the National Teachers Hall of Fame and has been selected one of the nation's most successful and innovative teachers many times. His record of student accomplishments has been featured in books, periodicals, and on national radio and television. He is a classroom teacher with experience at every grade level and every major subject.

Teachers and the Law

Teachers are pushing back.

All too often teachers have been the victims of their own tendency to be too nice. Dedicated to helping others, schooled for years on being role models for society, teachers are held up as the epitome of moderation and understanding. This has resulted in teaching being rated as a highly valued and most honorable profession in public polls. Sadly, this willingness to cooperate has also resulted in teachers taking abuse by politicians, a few parents, and administrators not willing or able to stand-up for their staffs.

But something may be happening. There is a small number of teachers who are using the court system to fight back. And bless them for their actions as it would have been so much easier for them to just get along and not rock the boat. Better yet, it may be telling the public that teachers have rights and aren’t afraid of using them when conditions warrant.

In the News

Most recently, the National Post of Canada reported that a teacher had successful sued parents for casting aspirations on her ability to teach after they sued saying that the teacher had humiliated and intimidated their son in front of the class. The parents told the press that she was unprofessional and she took action. Although the case may be appealed, the teacher won and the $230,000 case. The amount is irrelevant. The point is a another teacher isn’t being pushed around.

Read more:

In Australia a teacher is suing for half a million dollars (AUS) because she says her larynx was damaged by having to yell at rowdy children. Sounds amusing, but wait till you see what the district did and didn’t do before you decide it is frivolous. The district gave her 31 special needs children, including a diabetic child who required insulin injections, two autistic children, a child with cardiac disorders and a number of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And, she claims, the district didn’t provide the correct number of staff to monitor the large number of students in the class and she states that her training was inadequate. To repeat; 31 special needs students in one class apparently without much support. Anyone not believe her story?

Read more:

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a teacher is suing parents over abuse claims. The teacher was accused by a first-grader of being physically abusive to the boy. The teacher filed a defamation of character suit against the parents citing his beliefs that the parents are continuing to make false, public accusations against him. The District placed the teacher on paid administrative leave while investigating the claim that he grabbed the boy and yelled at him so strongly that he sprayed the boy’s face with saliva. An attorney said that the the investigation found no abuse. Imagine, parents spreading stories causes a law suit. I wonder how common teachers being slandered is?

Read more:

Teachers Protection from Slander

A teacher at Riveroaks Elementary School filed suit against the East Baton Rouge, La., school and its administrators because, she claims, she was asked to teach fourth grade by the school’s principal in order to help raise grades and help students prepare for the state mandated test. What came next is interesting to say the least and probably something that other teachers may have faced. She was apparently told by the administrator that no student was to get a failing grade. The teacher complied, but filed a grievance with the district. She claims that after that she was harassed. The suit mentions loss of reputation, standing in the community, and more. What is equally interesting in the article was a statement by Perry A Zirkel, a professor in education and law at Lehigh University. He is quoted as saying that while courts generally agree that a teacher’s right to grade is protected by the First Amendment, they also find that administrators have the same right and can change grades as they like.“So the teacher wins the right to give a D and the school has the right to change it to an A,” he said. I have never read and heard of that before, but maybe readers would like to comment on that statement. Here is a case with just the opposite outcome:

Read more about the Riveroaks case

A former Georgia kindergarten teacher acquitted of charges she molested three young girls,
filed a federal lawsuit against her accusers’ families and the sheriff’s department that arrested her because, she claims, that the incident cost her the custody of her daughter, loss of her home, and more. She is asking for $25 million in damages and demands that employees of two Georgia children’s advocacy centers and the sheriff’s department receive better training in how to handle accusations of molestation.

A jury found her not guilty of any charges filed against her after three girls told their parents she had molested them, and she says that the sheriff’s department filed charges against her without proper evidence of a crime. In other words, the Salem Witch Trials revisited.

Read more:

And here’s one from Teachers.Net

Anthony Caprio says he is seeking justice because of injuries he suffered when he came between two angry Hillhouse High School students. He was a substitute teacher and the fight was between two females students. Interesting, he is asking for damages over those of Workmen’s Compensation and making a case for all teachers who have been injured in such events. I wonder how much training is given teachers on how to break up a fight or if they should?
Read more:

A female, 24 years of age, claimed she was forced to resign because of what was posted on her Facebook profile. She was pictured holding an alcoholic beverages and posting a message about a “Bitch BINGO” event on her Facebook profile. The suit asked the court to order the Board of Education to hold a hearing, as well as back pay and court costs. The principal meet with her without prior notice and asked her about the Facebook entry. The teacher didn’t know her rights, apparently, and resigned. State law requires that a teacher be given written notice of alleged charges before a hearing with the school board and she did not get this, according to the plantiff. An interesting aside to this case was the fact that the photos were taken while she was on vacation in Europe and the Bitch Bingo was the name of a game played at an Atlanta restaurant. Are your Facebook pages any business of a school district? Where does your privacy end?

All of these cases have one thing in common and that is the fact that teachers are taking action when they feel that they have been unjustly accused. They aren’t going to take it anymore. Why not share some of your stories in the comment section?

Teachers and the Law
It is no secret school systems and teachers have become the source of countless legal claims in recent years. In fact, the most dangerous time in a teacher's life is not in the classroom, but while on yard duty or supervision. So all educators should review these sites to refresh their knowledge about the law; they should also check with their union.

What is the Loco Parentis Doctrine?

This doctrine is the cornerstone of educators' legal rights, and it means "in the place of parents." In other words, an educator has the right to act as a parent (in the absence of the parent) while the student is in school. In reality, the doctrine is limited for school authorities since parents are not required to provide procedural due process before initiating discipline. However, rules should not be contrary to the basic wishes of parents. Although courts fully realize the responsibility of the school system to establish proper educational settings, one must remember school board members are elected to represent their constituents (parents) of a given political jurisdiction.

The following resources cover a number of the legal issues for educators. In addition, some offer guidance in understanding why teachers might not be eligible for full Social Security benefits, making it vital for teachers to have a good retirement plan. Also, remember that Horace Mann offers coverage for assault cases.

Copyright law and the Internet

General Education Law

Social Security, IRS and teachers

Teacher liability and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Teaching religion and tolerance in the classroom

Union support

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ALERT! Klein Tells Principals To Give Teachers Letters In Their Files, Then A U-Rating

The post below came from the School Administrator's Chatboard:

Post: Chancellor Klein and Letters in File

Posted by: Veteran Principal on 9/18/10

Chancellor Klein is pressuring us to give teachers letters in the file. Then we are to give any teacher with a letter in the file a "U" rating for the year. This is preposterous. I was going to give one teacher a LIF for a
minor violation of a chancellor's regulation. I changed it to a counselling memo. I urge you to do the same, or just not give out LIFs.

Re: Chancellor Klein and Letters in File

On 9/19/10, Sheri wrote:

> Seriously now, are you an administrator? Don't you have any

> qualms about posting something like this anonymously online?

> If a staff member commits an infraction that rises to the

> level of a LIF, don't you think their work performance is

> unsatisfactory?

Posted by: Veteran Principal on 9/19/10

Not every infraction makes work performance unsatisfactory. Some principals who I know have given LIF for such things as sending a child to the bathroom during the last period, or having a parent come into the room. These do not warrant an unsatisfactory rating.
As administrators, our role is to foster education. Part of that is supporting our staff, not attacking them. If you think that playing a game of "Gotcha" makes a good administrator, then you should resign, as you do not know what makes a good principal or educator.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Staff at International Arts Business School in Brooklyn Revolt Against Principal Sheila Hanley

From Betsy Combier:
I was sent the letter below by members of the staff at IABS for posting:

To whom It May Concern:

This letter addresses the improper and harmful actions of Sheila Hanley, Principal of International Arts Business School at 600 Kingston Avenue in Brooklyn, NYC.

Since the start of the new school term, Principal Sheila Hanley has reassigned special needs students from their self-contained environment into Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes, even though she is acutely aware that the affected students' IEPs specifically indicate otherwise. These students will remain victims of Mrs. Shiela Hanley's insidious plan if left unmitigated. Even more alarming is that Principal Hanley did not think it was necessary to first consult with, or receive consent from, the parents of the students in question, before placing these once self-contained students into an environment that could now potentially hinder their chances of any academic success.

Mrs. Hanley's capricious plan becomes even more disturbing as it unfolds. In order for her plan to succeed, Mrs. Hanley must circumvent parental opposition. Thus, she constructed a letter wherein the gist of the correspondence informs the parents of the supposed benefits involved in removing their special needs children from a smaller setting, where they would receive individualized attention, into a much larger classroom without adequate academic care. And in so doing, she will carefully disguise the truth of its self-serving purposes from the unsuspecting parents. For example, these above mentioned children with speical needs turned regular education students must now be content with the rigors involved with passing regents exams, although their IEPs deem them incapable of ascending to such demands. The goal is to manipulate their parents into signing the letter thereby indicating their approval to Mrs. Hanley's disguised plan. The fooled parents would never be the wiser to the Principal's backdated later to which they are expected to sign for approval. It is obvious to staff of the school that Mrs. Hanley hopes that they will never discover that their signature would also indicate that they have had prior knowledge of the Principal's reassignment plan under consideration here, and that they had approved of it days before it was implemented.

Although Mrs. Hanley's aforementioned decision is clearly out of compliance with DOE, State and Federal laws, her administrative staff worked in partnership with her to fulfill her devised scheme. The raison de etre behind Principal Hanley's scheme has much to do with the allocation of state funds as opposed to the academic well being of her students. Or, to state it another way, Mrs. Hanley would receive an increase in state funds for CTT classes as opposed to Self Contained courses tailored specifically to the needs of students with IEPs which demand services of this kind. With a "tenuous budget," an increase in state funding would lessen the chance of a possible cut of the arts and business programs at IABS. Indeed, this is significant. Mrs. Hanley currently has to be content with a lack of significant improvement in the school's graduation rate, a recent plummet downward in regents scores, and an increasingly negative school culture that may have very well contributed to the abrupt resignation of the school's PA president who ensured his son was transferred out of our troubled school to a more academically promising Charter School.

What is certain, however, is that Mrs. Hanley's behavior, and those of the members of her administrative staff, speaks volumes about her concern, or the lack thereof, for the students under her care, particularly students who are most vulnerable to falling through the cracks of the New York City school system. Principal Hanley's "unorthodoxy" reveals her willingness to sacrifice the academic success of special needs students in order to save her arts and business program, where she in turn would ultimately be the sole beneficiary. Indeed, it calls into question as to whether she believes in her very own mission statement emblazoned on the school's website. Principal Shiela Hanley's trangression of the Chancellors Regulation to manipulate funds in order to create, at best, a facade of a school in good standing is really reflective of her inability to provide the kind of leadership and to foster the kind of creativity to bring about success in a school whom the Chancellor already determined D-rated.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

NYSUT and The Gotcha Squad, Together At Last By Betsy Combier

A very funny thing happened today at the New York City "Gotcha Squad" (3020-a arbitration, 51 Chambers Street, 6th Floor).

I was verbally attacked by Naeemah Lamont, the BOE Attorney currently swinging her machete at me as Director of the "Teacher Performance Unit" or "TPU", at the suggestion of newly hired NYSUT Attorney Dan Bright. Thanks, people! I have 20 witnesses who saw what happened, including the Hon. Arbitrator Arthur Riegel.

Let me start with a little bit of background. In 2003 I was invited to be on a television show with a former teacher whose name may be known by some out there: David Pakter. While waiting to go on air, David told me about the "rubber room" he was in, and asked me to attend his open and public 3020-a hearing. His case started with his videotaping (with the consent of the teacher) a group of white elementary students from PS 59 in a music classroom at the High School of Art and Design, after the Principal of the high school, Marianne Appell (now at Kingsborough Community College) rented the room out because she told Pakter words to the effect of "black kids dont need music." So, she took music out of the high school curriculum and rented the music room to PS 59, and David thought this wasnt right.

Immediately after he did a video of the music class, Appell demanded the video, and David said no. He was sent to the Rubber Room in Manhattan, 333 7th avenue, 7th floor.
See my articles on my website for more information about David, and another will be posted soon:
Retaliation Against All Whistleblowers is the Name of the Illegal Game in New York City
The Rubber Rooms and the Misinformation of Steven Brill by Betsy Combier
David Pakter, a NYC Teacher and Whistleblower of the NYC Board of Education's Corrupt Practices, Sues in Federal Court

Thus I started attending 3020-a hearings for any teacher who asked me to attend. I was fascinated. What kind of proceeding was the "3020-a? My dad was Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York for 20-22 years (he worked with Louis Lefkowitz), so I had a good idea what juries and courtroom hearings were like, but a 3020-a is not a trial. It's called "Arbitration", but it isnt that either. It's a creation of the great minds of Mike Bloomberg, Joel Klein, David Brodsky (Director of Labor Relations), Theresa Europe (Director of the Administrative Trials Unit), Claude Hersh and James Sandner (NYSUT), and the New York State Education Department. Oh yes, and the New York State legislature, who voted for Mayoral control in New York City. What a mistake.

The goal of a 3020-a is to punish you for allegations of wrong-doing that your Principal says are true. But Bloomberg and his gang made a crucial error - actually they made many errors - but one is that they forgot to repeal Education Law Article 61 3020-a which is IN THE PACKET OF ALL TEACHERS SENT 3020-A CHARGES UNDER APPENDIX A: before any specification can be given to a tenured teacher the spec has to be voted on  by the school board. AFTER the charges are voted on, then the teacher can receive them. The Arbitrator on the 3020-a panel is not given the authority to decide Just Cause.

More, much more, about all of this later on, another day.

What is important here is that since 2003 I have attended these 3020-a "arbitration-like" hearings because teachers asked me to be there, and this is their right to request. I have spent seven years observing, as a volunteer and a reporter, who does what to whom, writing notes on what is wrong and who lies, as well as doing whatever is necessary to help provide a winning defense, never speaking on the record. Most NYSUT attorneys pushed me away, and yet every once in a while a NYSUT attorney listens to his or her client, and the case moves forward  in the right direction. While I was working for the UFT I was told that I was forbidden from attending the 3020-a, but I worked only part-time (thanks Randi!) and I ignored these baseless suggestions. No one paid me to do this story called the "NYC Rubber Rooms and 3020-a".

Three teachers I know were scheduled to appear at 51 Chambers Street on the morning of September 15 for their 3020-a hearing, mediation/settlement/extortion/ or other. I was asked to attend a 3020-a for a teacher, but when I got to the 6th floor, I saw another teacher sitting in the corner of the waiting room looking like she was extremely upset. I knew this person, and went over to her to talk with her. She told me that her new NYSUT Attorney Josh wanted her to retire immediately and to agree never to work for the NYC DOE again, in any capacity. She felt that he was threatening her into signing this agreement. I suggested that she tell her attorney she was uncomfortable with these terms. At a morning break of the other teacher's hearing, I went to the hallway, and the upset teacher was there. She begged me to speak with her Attorney with her, as she felt that he was not listening to her at all. I said, "sure!" So, I, upset teacher and NYSUT attorney Dan Bright talked outside the waiting room area at the back elevators (49 Chambers Street). I repeated over and over that I was not an Attorney, only an advocate, and that the teacher asked me to talk with him (Dan). The teacher was there too. Then I went back to the hearing of another teacher.

At lunchtime, A group of us were going out, when I heard "Betsy!!" I turned around, and Naeemah Lamont came over to me, stood 5 inches from me and screamed at the top of her lungs, "Just WHO do you think you are? Why are you HERE? You cannot attend a hearing that is not open, (pointing to the upset teacher, standing closeby with 20 other people - remember, I was not attending her hearing), and you are giving legal advice without being an Attorney. You are not an Attorney!!!!!"

I said, "What legal advice??? You have been misinformed".

Lamont added, "Oh, so you are an Attorney."

I said, "No, I'm not, I dont give any legal advice, and if you are going to attack me, I want this on the record."

Lamont: "This is not going to be on any record."

And walked away.

Later in the afternoon I saw the upset teacher again, and told her that everything would be ok, because she was in quite a state of anxiety. She felt that I was being attacked for no reason, and it was her fault. I told her that it wasnt anything to do with her. I turned around and saw that Naeemah and BOE Attorney and attack dog Dennis Da Costa were standing behind me. Naeemah started screaming all over again, about how I could not speak with this person, I was simply WRONG about everything, and I gave WRONG legal advice. Dennis laughed.

I started walking away, saying that I would find a court reporter to put all of this on the record, and promised her and Dennis that I would write about both of them for my blog. Naeemah said, "Go ahead". As I walked away, Nameeah's final scream was heard throughout the 6th floor: "I have a computer too, you know!!!!!!!!!!"

At the same time, NYST Attorney Josh was in a hearing arguing the merits of 2590-j(7)(B).

The point of my telling this tiny tidbit is to show how NYSUT Attorney Dan Bright went directly from meeting with me and his client to the NYC BOE "Gotcha Squad" and lied to Theresa Europe and/or Naeemah about what I had said to him with his client.

Be very careful of saying anything or working with NYSUT. They do not seem to be on your side.

Betsy Combier
Below is the definition of the TPU, Lamont's group:

The Teacher Performance Unit (“TPU”) is a new unit comprised of experienced attorneys who will litigate incompetence cases against ineffective tenured pedagogues. TPU’s goal is to help improve teacher quality in schools by bringing and litigating these cases in a thorough, expeditious and effective manner.

In partnership with the consultants of the Labor Support Unit (“LSU”), TPU will offer high quality and responsive support to principals, and other school officials in connection with cases involving previously identified tenured teachers in need of support and remediation. This support will include, among other things, providing these ineffective tenured teachers with quality professional development.

Additionally, TPU in consultation with the principal will make a determination, on a case by case basis whether to commence the 3020-a process. Thereafter, TPU and LSU will continue to provide counsel to the principal and other school officials in connection with the preparation and litigation of 3020-a disciplinary charges.

Oh - let me add that for some reason, NYSUT and the UFT believe that I will slink away into the night, never to be heard from again? Nope, nyet, nada, wont happen, at least as long as there are UFT reps and NYSUT Attorneys who do not return telephone calls, and have disdain for the professionalism of re-assigned teachers and those made into "ATRs" which is, by the way, NOT A RECOGNIZED TITLE.

Thanks to Fidgity for the following, a blog post on the blog that follows my introduction on my website

Who Is Betsy Combier?

I just called Brooklyn UFT rep. Alan Weinstein at his office and left a message that I would like to speak with him about a Principal from hell, and he left me a message in which he said "sorry, but in what capacity are you calling me?" I guess he doesnt remember that before, during, and now after I worked for the UFT I was and still am an ADVOCATE for justice, due process, and the right to speak out against wrong-doing of any kind. Rather than explain more right now, I'm re-posting an article from the blog "Fidgity" who is a teacher placed in a Rubber Room for no reason at all. Enjoy.

If You Knew Betsy...

They say that there is an exception to every rule- and when it comes to the Useless UFT, that exception comes in the form of a beautiful, green eyed blonde, an unconventional, bright and passionate woman named Betsy Combier.

The first time that I met Ms.Combier was almost three years ago. She walked into our Rubber Room wearing an embroidered suede jacket and up to the knee high heeled boots. Unlike most of the women who work for the UFT, Betsy exuded a refreshing warmth and feminine quality. In a sweet and soft voice, Betsy introduced herself as someone who would be coming once a week to assist reassigned teachers with any problems or questions they may have. She greeted some of the teachers that she already knew and then proceeded to personally introduce herself to each and every new face. As she approached where I was sitting, one of the teachers quickly whispered,"Don't trust her." "Why?", I asked. That teacher put her head down as Ms. Combier greeted me. Although her warmth and openness was indeed refreshing, I cautiously welcomed her into my space. She handed me her card and told me to call her anytime I needed to talk. Soon after meeting her, I learned that Betsy had several blogs and was involved in advocating for the rights of students, parents and teachers. Having been a PTA president and raising four daughters in the Public school system, Betsy knew the system from many angles. She attended PEP meetings where she spoke out for the rights of the RR teachers, questioned the inflated power of the principals, the agenda, our Mayor and the unqualified Chancellor-without-a-contract.

The following week, Ms. Combier entered our RR wearing a flouncy skirt and carrying a fringed handbag. I could hear her in the hallway making small talk with the horrible Mr. Warden before entering the RR as scheduled. Two of the teachers immediately grabbed her ear, taking her to the private "staircase" in the hallway to talk.

Besides providing answers, listening to the teachers and following up on all inquiries, the difference between Betsy Combier and the rest of the UFT Reps was that Betsy came with no agenda. Having been hired only part time by Randi Weingarten to support the reassigned teachers in the RR, Betsy gave her support in the only way that she knew how...FULL time. Here is a woman who does not drive or ride the subway, but somehow managed to spend everyday, yes, EVERYDAY of the week visiting a different RR facility throughout the city or talking with distraught members of the TRCs. On a salary that barely covered her expenses, Ms. Combier never missed an opportunity to talk to, advise, assist and console hundreds of reassigned teachers over a seven year period. Unlike the other unapproachable, angry and aloof Useless UFT Reps (they know who they are) who shamelessly looked at their watches, worried about the running meter, came empty handed and stayed only long enough to say that they 'showed up', Betsy genuinely wanted to be there. Betsy sat amongst the teachers, never looking at the time, never making excuses. If for some unavoidable reason, she'd be late, Betsy would call one of us on our personal cell phones to let us know. If that wasn't enough, Reassigned teachers called Betsy early in the morning and all hours of the night when sleeping seemed like an impossible feat. Betsy knew the teachers. She knew their pain and hurt. She felt their frustration. She guided and empowered them to help themselves. Singlehandedly, Ms. Combier made up for the shortcomings and absence of all of the UFT reps that I have ever met. Those who allowed themselves to know her, loved her and still do. Those who doubted her sincerity were obviously afraid of her unconventional warmth and wisdom; do you blame them after the way they the UFT treats them?? However, those who didn't know her, missed out on her natural gift for being a true PEOPLE advocate and great friend.

One would think that by the way I have described Mrs. Combier, the UFT would recognize and value her for the rare GEM that she is.

Why then is Ms. Combier no longer employed by the UFT? Shockingly, the only thank you that Ms. Combier received for seven years of dedicated service to the UFT was a Pink slip on July 7, 2010. She was told by UFT Co-Staff Director Ellie Engler that the UFT no longer needed her service since the Rubber Rooms were to be closed. Ellie Engler is the very same person who did everything in her power to make Betsy's life at the UFT as difficult and uncomfortable as possible.

In 2009, Ms. Engler told Betsy to pack up her office at 52 Broadway because it was needed by the UFT for someone else. She promised to provide her with boxes and an alternative office location by the next day. At 6PM on the following day, there were still no boxes and nowhere to move them to. She was told to contact David Hickey, but received no response to her messages. After filling up several black trash bags with her papers and files, Betsy removed most of her things with the help of a teacher friend. After several months of working without an office, the Queens TRC liason asked Leroy Barr for an explanation. Several UFT members wanted to meet with Betsy, but without an office, this was impossible. After walking around the 16th floor, Mr. Barr located the telephone that had Betsy's number hooked up to a remote desk somewhere on the other side of the building. This, he told her, would be her new "office". Betsy's only request was that her files from her old office be safely moved to her new location. However, most of the files from her old office were never found.

The harassment continued after the Christmas break when Betsy returned to find that her cubicle had been moved by Ellie Engler and that her computer and telephone had disappeared. After scavenging for her things, Betsy's telephone was eventually found on the 11th floor.

After Betsy made several requests to Ms. Engler for her newly printed UFT business cards, Ms. Engler asked that Betsy take down the posts on her blog, NYC Rubber Room Reporter that contained Theresa Europe's name. (Theresa Europe is in charge of the DOE attorneys in The "Gotcha Squad") Betsy refused Ms. Engler's request and in turn, never received her cards. In addition, Adam Ross, the Attorney for Mike Mulgrew, told Betsy that she is to refrain from filing any FOIL (Freedom of Information requests) of anyone who is employed by the NYCDOE. Because Ms. Combier refused to heed these requests, she was fired. (Yet in her agreement it says she is hired to help any member in the TRC or elsewhere who needs help, and continue to write and advocate for people she assisted before she worked for the UFT) Ms. Combier may have been fired by the UFT, but she has not stopped working on behalf of the UFT's teachers who are still very much in need of her valuable knowledge and assistance.

Now, Betsy is pursuing her advocacy outside of the UFT from her office at home. Her email is I know she will be there for you, me, and anyone who needs help. Shame on the UFT for firing one of our most dedicated and productive representatives.

Are you reading this, Mr. Mulgrew, Ms. Engler and Mr. Hickey?

Mike Mulgrew and Ellie Engler

7 responses:

Chaz said...
I could not of said it better myself. Betsy Combier is one of the heroes.

September 16, 2010 5:58 PM

Fidgety said...
Thank you Chaz. Betsy is definitely an "Unsung Hero" in the eyes and hearts of many teachers....The Union Leader's failure to recognize this is a great loss to all of its' members.

September 16, 2010 6:33 PM

Polo Colon said...
Betsy has withstood the most undeserved asinine insults from both UFT and DOE detractors who hate her for exposing their collusion.
I have been a victim of both the UFT and DOE's legal scams! Only NYS Education Law (even with its flaws), the Constitution and Betsy Combier helped to defend me against the devious onslaught of their not-so-secret partnership!
Shame on all those clowns and monkeys who tried to destroy Betsy for being the best!

September 16, 2010 10:14 PM


Re the following Quote:
"Betsy is definitely an "Unsung Hero" in the eyes and hearts of many teachers....The Union Leader's failure to recognize this is a great loss to all of its' members".

Please-Let us just tell it like it is, as the legendary Gil Nobel of ABC News would always say.
The so-called Union Leader and his legions of lackeys do not "fail to recognize" anything.
It is precisely because they do recognize that Betsy Combier is a natural born Hero and take charge Leader that the UFT felt they had to push her out of the UFT and ASAP.
And on the contrary, she is not at all an "Unsung Hero" in the eyes and hearts of NYC Educators.
Ms. Combier's sterling reputation for integrity, razor sharp intelligence and plain old fashioned guts, made it mandatory in the sick minds of the UFT power brokers that they must "disappear" Betsy Combier just as fast as they could from 52 Broadway.
Corruption and party politics do not thrive well when someone is around shining the cold light of truth and honesty on the scene.
Strange that I have never noticed anyone observe that the NYC DOE's charlatan of a Chancellor's business card carries the same number for the building address as the UFT- the number " 52 ".
How strange is that?
Or maybe given what we have seen happen to New York City's dedicated Teachers during the past ten years, (and growing worse)- the coincidence of both the DOE and the UFT being located at Headquarters with the number 52 is more than mere coincidence.
I never had much patience with the practice of trying to make nice with people who are ethics and morals challenged.
The forces at the UFT who decided to fire Ms. Combier have a lot in common with the agenda driven creeps at the forefront of the school Charterization movement as well as the DOE.
That agenda is to look out for "Number One" and keep the good life and the perks rolling on as far as the eye can see.
The "cannibals" running the Charter movement could not care less about the children of NYC.
And the opportunists who have managed to hijack control of a once great and proud Labor Union called the United Federation of Teachers could not care less, deep down, for the present Hell that UFT members must work and teach in on a daily basis.
Even those Teachers who have not been ATR'd into oblivion and are fortunate to have their own classroom must suffer the humiliation of going to a job each day where one always runs the risk of instant and Hellish payback and punishment if they dare to speak up and speak out to protect themselves and their own and their students' rights.
Betsy Combier was and will always remain a human being who is not afraid to carry a target on her back.
Betsy Combier possesses real backbone, true grit and true moral courage- things they do not teach the newbies in Joel Klein, Esq.'s hypocritical so-called "Leadership" Academy.
There the "learning" is about how to intimidate, threaten and Railroad innocent teachers out of the system and out of their careers and their livelihood. That is "Introductory Education Course 101".
Are dues paying NYC UFT Member Teachers getting proper employment protection, these days vis a vis the NYC DOE and ethics challenged Joel Klein ?
Please- don't make me laugh.
Betsy Combier put her personal economic security on the line to do the right thing and stand up and protect the Rights of any and every Teacher who came to her for help.
But that put her squarely at odds with the agendas of two powerful forces whose headquarters are not located that far apart.
"52" this, "52 that". You say potato- I'll say tomato.
What's the difference between them. Let's wake up and smell the coffee and call the whole thing off.
A pox on both their houses.
And a woman who was the best friend NYC Teachers ever had was very ill treated by people who never learned that there is such a thing as the word "Decency".

September 17, 2010 3:51 AM

Anonymous said...

I am an NYC teacher who has never met Betsy Combier and know of her amazing work only through teacher blogs. Her heroism comes through every time. If there is ANY way we, the union members, can help her now, please let us know. If she needs economic assistance (due to bogus firing), I will personally contribute and fund-raise for her! We heart Betsy!

September 18, 2010 1:11 PM

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Test Mess and CTB McGraw Hill

Why NY's test mess is far from over
By FRED SMITH, NY POST, September 8, 2010

New York's "test mess" is worse than even the avowedly reformist state education leaders have acknowl edged -- and it may not be over yet, either.

A close look at the data (some of which became available only via the Freedom of Information Law) strongly suggests that the exams created each year by CTB/McGraw-Hill -- which purportedly measure the math and English proficiency of 1.2 million New York students -- are fundamentally flawed. That means that even Regents Chancellor Meryll Tisch and state Education Commissioner David Steiner's "recalibrating" of the scoring can't fix the problem.

The state Education Department paid the company $38 million for the tests used in 2006-'09.

Like most such tests, CTB's exams contain both multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. The latter ask students to produce a response, for example showing how they solved a math problem or writing answers to express their understanding of reading passages.

Constructed-response items take more time and money to administer and score -- but educators generally believe these questions measure a higher order of knowledge and thought than multiple-choice items, which kids typically find less challenging.

Yet results from both types of questions should point in the same direction -- that is, if this year's 4th graders do markedly better on the math multiple-choice questions than they did the year before, then they ought to improve on the math constructed-response items, too.

In other words, on well-developed tests, the results on both types of questions are in harmony -- pointing in the same direction and nearly parallel from one year to the next. After all, each is supposed to tap a different level of knowledge of the same subject. Performance should move in a synchronized way.

That's exactly the pattern shown on the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- nationally and in New York. The "nation's report card" uses both types of items to measure reading and math proficiency -- and the performance of New York kids on both is strikingly consistent over time.

Not so, the results on the state exams.

Consider just the math tests, administered every year to students in each of six grades. We have data on the four years from 2006 to 2009, so we can look at whether scores went up or down for the six grade levels in each of three school years -- 18 comparisons in total.

In 10 of the 18 cases, raw scores (i.e., the percentage of questions answered correctly) rose on one of the types of question, but fell for the other. In four cases, there was a smaller divergence. In only four cases did the scores clearly move in the same direction.

Any testing professional should recognize this as an alarm bell: Something is seriously wrong with these exams. (And it is the tests, not the students or anything else: Again, the NAEP exams, covering the same areas, do not show these bizarre divergences over time.)

There are several more disturbing facts about the 2006-'09 exams:

* Larger gains were usually made on multiple-choice items than constructed response. This boosted the overall score -- leading to press releases and headlines that suggested everything was improving.

* Worse, data that contradict that storyline went undisclosed: The public didn't see separate analyses of constructed-response scores.

* Statistics (obtained via the Freedom of Information Law) on the field tests (where questions get "tried out" prior to creating the actual exams) show inconsistencies between multiple-choice and constructed response items. CTB should have seen this data and realized it had a big problem.

Internal consistency is a mark of test reliability -- and without reliability, tests can't measure anything in a valid way. And New York's exams have clearly been lacking in consistency.

It's likely the just-released 2010 test results bear the same fatal flaw. The "solutions" on offer from Tisch and Steiner -- raising "cut scores" and increasing the scope of material on the exams -- don't address the overriding issue.

What's needed is an independent probe of the testing program, one with sweeping authority to investigate the role of Education Department officials, CTB measurement specialists and the state's technical advisers in all aspects of the program.

I believe we've been sold defective goods. For starters, we should demand our money back.

Fred Smith, a retired Board of Education senior analyst, worked for the city public-school system in test research and development.

Committee On Open Government

Sunday, September 5, 2010

From Betsy Combier: My Advocacy Will Not Stop

Hello all teachers who were in the TRCs (Temporary Re-Assignment Centers) in June, 2010, and all people who know that I have tried to help you with problems in New York City public schools!

If you are wondering whether or not I have stopped my advocacy for all of you (as well as any NYC employee who needs help) now that I no longer work for the UFT, the answer is: absolutely not.

I have purchased the domain name "Advocatz" and look forward to helping you with any of your issues, including those of how the UFT never returns your telephone calls and/or says "there is nothing I can do". There is ALWAYS something that can be done, and I will be glad to look at all options with anyone, to resolve any problem. The best way to start is by emailing me at

By the way, dont believe for a second that I have any confidentiality agreement in place. On these pages look forward to hearing about the UFT, NYSUT, and the Board/Department of Education, and who does what to whom. I was lucky enough to be a reporter of the "rubberization" process for the past seven (7) years, and the last three years as a staff member of the UFT, which allowed me to enter and make contact with all the people inside the NYC "Rubber Rooms". No one has the information that I have on the massive violations of rights that made the rubber rooms what they were, how this process started, and how it has been altered - NOT ended!And I continue to never mention any member's name unless he/she wants me to (this is NOT the case for UFT, NYSUT or NYC BOE staff and or management).

In fact, my concerns about the new settlement agreement (April 15, 2010) convinced the UFT (Mike Mulgrew and Ellie Engler) that I had to be let go. But I will not be silent. Far from it. On these pages and on my website you will see what has happened now with your due process rights as you try to defend your tenured (or non-tenured) positions.

More about this later.

Keep me in touch with your situation, so I can help you and continue to put a stop to harassment and abuse of anyone by anyone, ever.


Betsy Combier

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The New York City Charter Revision Commission Issues A Final Report

The New York City Charter Revision Commission has released its Final Report, which contains two ballot questions approved by the Commission for consideration by voters on Election Day.

Final Report

Download the ballot questions (in PDF)

City Question 1. Term Limits: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:

* Reduce from three to two the maximum number of consecutive full terms that can be served by elected city officials; and

* Make this change in term limits applicable only to those city officials who were first elected at or after the 2010 general election; and

* Prohibit the City Council from altering the term limits of elected city officials then serving in office.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

City Question 2. Elections and Government Administration: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:

* Disclosure of Independent Campaign Spending: Require public disclosure of expenditures made by entities and individuals independent from candidates to influence the outcome of a city election or referendum;

* Ballot Access: Generally reduce the number of petition signatures needed by candidates for city elective office to appear on a ballot;

* Voter Assistance and Campaign Finance Board: Merge voter assistance functions, including a reconstituted Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, into the Campaign Finance Board, and change when Campaign Finance Board member terms begin;

* Conflicts of Interest Law: Require all public servants to receive conflicts of interest training, raise the maximum fine for a public servant who violates the City’s conflicts of interest law, and allow the City to recover any benefits obtained from such violations;

* City Administrative Tribunals: Authorize the Mayor to direct the merger of administrative tribunals and adjudications into the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and permit the Department of Consumer Affairs to adjudicate all violations issued by that department;

* City Reporting Requirements and Advisory Bodies: Create a commission to review requirements for reports and advisory bodies and waive the requirements, subject to City Council review, where the commission finds they are not of continuing value; and

* Map for Facility Siting: Include in the City’s facilities siting map those transportation and waste management facilities operated by or for governmental entities, or by private entities that provide comparable services.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

Dont forget to check for a detailed discussion of the Charter Revision process and people on the Commission:
City Pragmatist

August 11, 2010
Term Limits to Go on Ballot Again in the City

Come November, New York City voters will be asked to decide one of the most contentious issues in recent political history: whether city leaders should be limited to two terms in office, or to three. A commission responsible for proposing changes to the city’s charter voted Wednesday evening to place the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot.

But the group declined to place another hotly debated issue on the ballot: the idea of instituting nonpartisan elections, a system in which primary races are open to candidates of all parties.

The commission voted unanimously to ask voters if the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents and members of the City Council should be limited to two consecutive four-year terms. If the public rejects the measure, the current law allowing three terms will stand.

Much of the debate focused on when a two-term limit, if approved, should go into effect. After a heated back-and-forth, the commission decided to propose making the change applicable to those elected in 2013 and giving sitting members a chance at a third term.

Two years after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg led a successful effort to rewrite term limits laws and run for a third term, the issue still incites passion across the spectrum. Several members of the commission said the measure was necessary to restore public confidence after the mayor’s heavy-handed effort.

“This resolution embodies the rationale and spirit of what the public has stated,” said Kenneth M. Moltner, a lawyer on the commission, which was appointed by Mr. Bloomberg.

But other members said voters should have the opportunity to decide if term limits should be eliminated altogether.

“Term limits are antithetical to our way of life as a republic,” said Stephen J. Fiala, a former City Council member from Staten Island. “New members will never have developed sufficient time or experience.”

Voters will also be asked in November to decide if council members should be barred from changing term limit laws if they apply to incumbents. In 2008, the members approved changes in limits that applied to themselves.

The issue of term limits is well known to New Yorkers. In 1993, voters approved a measure that imposed a limit of two four-year terms. In 1996, they rejected a measure seeking to permit a third term for elected officials.

The commission also agreed to put a range of other issues on the November ballot, including a proposal to reduce by about 50 percent the number of signatures required to get on a ballot. Voters will also decide on a proposal to require disclosure of independent campaign spending of over $1,000.

Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, criticized the commission for not placing issues like independent budgeting for the borough president offices on the ballot.

“The members of the Charter Revision Commission are missing a historic opportunity to restore confidence and interest in government among generations of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement.

Another notable omission from the ballot is the question of nonpartisan elections, a cause once championed by Mr. Bloomberg.

The mayor, a registered independent, spent $7 million of his own money in hopes of persuading voters to support a referendum on nonpartisan elections in 2003. This year he chose to remain silent, after hearing concerns about support for the issue.

Articles from the New York Times about the Charter Revision Commission

New York City Charter 2009
Preliminary Report Press Release
Appendices href="">Preliminary Revisions
New York City Administrative Code

New York state Legislature