From Betsy Combier, Editor:
Once again, let me describe to you all the actions of NYC DOE Attorney Cheryl Smith-Massena, who claimed, to Arbitrator Stephen O'Beirne, on November 2, 2011, that the 3020-a hearing must be closed to the "public" - meaning me and three other people - because I was a blogger who posted the names of minor children on my blog. O'Beirne not only closed the hearing to the public, but sequestered
me and the other observers on another floor when the child came in to testify that day. As if we would assault the student. Never, in 9 years, has a member of the public - me or anyone else - been sequestered in order not to be anywhere near to a student testifying.
As I and all members of the public at 3020-a are not permitted to talk on the record, and as O'Beirne did not ask for my explanation after Ms. Smith-Massena made the accusations against me, I was not able to say whether or not I was indeed guilty as charged. Sound familiar?
So I did what all employees falsely charged or arrested should do, but dont (because no one mentions the General Muicipal Law Section 50-e, the Notice of Claim clause), I filed a Notice of Claim against Cheryl Smith-Massena and Theresa Europe, Dennis Walcott, and the City of New York. My 50-H hearing was January 31, 2012.
Recently I wrote Arbitrator Stephen O'Beirne a letter, asking him to keep all notes that he had on the issue of my posting the names of minor children on my blog. I sent copies to Cheryl Smith-Massena and Maria Elena Gonzalez, Claude Hersh, Theresa Europe, New York State Education Department, the AAA, and several others. By the way, I think that Arbitrator O'Beirne is a very good arbitrator, he listened to the evidence, wrote copious notes and gave an excellent decision in this case. This story is not about him, its about how Maria Elena Gonzalez, Cheryl Smith-Massena, and the "Gotcha Squad
" get into attack mode for the actions I have taken to expose the 3020-a arbitration procedures. The fact of the matter is, everything they say and do is, has been, and will continue to be documented because I think something is terribly wrong in this forum.
Here is my letter to Arbitrator O'Beirne (I redacted the names of the Respondents):
315 East 65th
New York, NY 10065
Stephen F. O'Beirne, Esq.,
176 Washington Avenue
Clifton, N.J. 07011
Dear Arbitrator O'Beirne,
I am the "member of the public" who attended
two of your open hearings for UFT members that have
recently concluded at the New York City Department of Education Office of
General Counsel, 51 Chambers Street, Manhattan.
At the hearings before you I was simply an observer, as
opposed to a witness or paralegal, and therefore I and my name did not belong
being placed in the hearings for and as the reason for a
closed hearing or at least a closed hearing for the testimony of any child(ren).
As a non-party I could not contribute in the record any comments to the
baseless and slanderous comments made to you by Ms. Cheryl Smith-Massena about me, and you did not
suggest that I address this statement, although I was ready to do so if you had
requested it. I am writing this letter
to clarify my position as an advocate and reporter who has attended open and
public NYC 3020-a hearings for almost nine years.
Ms. Smith-Massena accused me of posting the names of
children on my blog in order to validate her argument that you must close open
and public 3020-a hearings to the "public", meaning me and any other
observer. On Friday February 3, you
stated that the Department had even accused me of bringing in animal(s)?? I did
appreciate your comment about a giraffe, however I believe that Ms.
Smith-Massena and her Supervisor Theresa Europe are serious about harassing me
with whatever allegation of wrong-doing they can fling my way. For the record I have never taped or videotaped
a Hearing, never brought an animal into a hearing, and have never asked to
interview a witness who is under oath during a hearing. I believe Ms. Massena's
motive was to retaliate against me for posting her and Theresa Europe's memo in
the Steve Ostrin case on my blog and website, see the articles below:
In Mr. Ostrin's article you will see his accuser, Grace,
was in his class at Brooklyn Tech, however when she came in to testify at his
hearing in 2009-2010 she was already over the age of eighteen.
It may be useful
for you to know that barely 5 minutes before starting the hearing
Attorney Maria Elena Gonzalez-Lichten told all four public observers ready to
attend the 3020-a for Ms. that you were considering closing the
Hearing when the child came in to testify because the Chancellor's Regulations
required this. I do not know of any Chancellor's Regulation that says this, but
I may have missed that "fact" despite my detailed analysis of the
As a result of both Ms. Smith-Massena and Ms.
Gonzalez-Lichten requiring a closed hearing when the child witness came in to
the 3020-a of you even sequestered me and the other
observers on the floor below, so that we could not see or impose ourselves on the child. The assumption that I
would do such a thing is abhorrent to me, as well as your sequestering, as
demanded by the DOE and NYSUT. I have never heard of this happening before in
any hearing that I have attended over the past nine years.
I am, it is true,
a blogger and online writer/reporter. My website, Parentadvocates.org, and two of my blogs, NYC Rubber Room Reporter and New
York Court Corruption, are on the
internet since 2002, 2007, and 2008, respectively.
What is absolutely
untrue is the allegation that I post names of minor children on my blog, unless
the name(s) are already published elsewhere online or in hard copy. Ms. Smith-Massena
knew when she told you about my posting children's names that this "fact"
was not true. As stated above, I have
filed a Notice of Claim with the NYC Bureau of Law and Adjustment as well as
with the City of New York. My 50-H
hearing took place on January 31, 2012. I
intend on pursuing this.
I have had more than ample opportunity to post any and
all witness' names, because over the past eight plus years I have studied
cases, read the transcripts, represented
children and parents in IEP reviews and Impartial Hearings, and seen hundreds
of names of minor children who testify or appear at various hearings with
Department of Education personnel. I have been hired to be a paralegal at
several hearings in the past couple of months.
The focus of my book is the process used in the 3020-a to
charge, suspend, and/or terminate teachers, therefore names of children and
witnesses are not important and will not be used if the individual is under 18
years of age, unless I feel that the name(s) are necessary for the story to be
told. As I intend on pursuing Ms. Smith-Massena's actions and those of her
colleagues and Supervisor as they relate to insults and false claims of me, my
character, or my work, I ask that you keep all notes, documents, transcripts,
and any and all other evidence that shows any reference to me by any NYC
Department of Education personnel. I may ask you to produce them, as well as
any and all information that led to your sequestering me and the other observers
at the hearing of .
My fervent hope is that Cheryl Smith-Massena, her
colleagues, and Supervisor stop saying, writing, or alleging in any way
"facts" that they are aware of being not true, and that you ask for a
response from an observer at a hearing you preside over, so that Ms. Massena or
any other person at a hearing before you is not allowed to accuse someone of
something without the person so accused is given a chance to rebut the
Thank you very much for your attention and consideration
of this request! If you have any questions, please call me or email me at the
addresses at the top of this letter.
Copies mailed to:
Parentadvocates.org, for posting
NYC Rubber Room Reporter, for posting
NYSED Teacher Tenure Unit
American Arbitration Association
Maria Elena Gonzalez Lichten
I just received an email from Maria Elena Gonzalez which I want to share with you so that I can answer her on this post:
From: "Maria Gonzalez"
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 12:45:49 -0400
Subject: your erroneous comment
As a courtesy, I informed the public that hearing would be closed pursuant to the provision of the Commissioner's Regulations, not the Chancellor's Regulations as you erroneously stated in your letter to Mr. O'Beirne. ( DOE counsel had provided a copy of the relevant New York Commissioner of Education Rules and Regulations (NYCRR). Also, please do not change my name. M name is Maria Elena Gonzalez, not "Maria Elena Gonzalez-Lichten" as I have never changed or hyphenated my name nor am I required to do so because of my marriage. Thank you.
Here is my response:
I assumed that your former client, Eric Fuller
, who posted your telephone call to him after you told him not to testify at his 3020-a and he was terminated, had recent information about your professional name being hyphenated, so I will not refer to you in the future by Maria Elena Gonzalez-Lichten, thank you for bringing this to my attention.
As for my being "confused" about your saying the "Commissioner's Regulations" as opposed to "Chancellor's Regulations" before you started screaming that I was a liar
, and I lied about everything
(when I asked what I lied about), I am very aware of the Commissioner's Regulations
as well as NYCRR
, and you did NOT mention either of these. Before you started screaming that I was a liar you said that O'Beirne was hearing the argument for closing the hearing based upon the Chancellor's
Regulations, and that is why I took my pad out of my bag and asked you "Which Chancellor's Regulation is that?" at which point you started screaming that I was a liar.
Soon after you left the space where I and the other observers were sitting, the three ladies - who had never met me before - told me that I should never have lied about you, and how could I do that, so you definitely had an important influence over their perception of me. What, exactly, did I say/write about you that is/was a lie? Please give me details so I can address these allegations.
I also received emails, text messages and telephone calls from your clients telling me that they are not supposed to talk with me because you told them I am "trouble". Can you please elaborate on that? I'd like to know exactly what you mean, so that I can properly address this allegation.
Please reply to me no later than March 30, 2012, or I will assume that you have no facts upon which your statements are based, and will proceed accordingly.
Thank you, Ms. Gonzalez.
Here is Maria Elena Gonzalez' reply:
show details Mar 26 (8 days ago)
Dear Ms. Combier,
As a non lawyer, you maybe unaware that I am not at liberty to discuss anything relating to my client representation with you. Therefore I unfortunateley cannot rectify your strange and baseless attacks on my representation. Especially in the case of Eric Fuller- I would think even you should be able to figure out that you have very limited information about that matter. You are well aware that you have lied, or at best, have been recklessly misinformed and careless when reporting about me in your blog. Please cease from contacting me. -Maria Elena Gonzalez
Note from me:
I spoke with Eric Fuller after he received his unjust decision of termination, and he appealed to the New York State Supreme Court to overturn the decision. I read the Petition.