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Saturday, June 30, 2012

UFT Wins At Arbitration: DOE Cannot Close Struggling Schools And Replace Staff

Michael Mulgrew
Dear colleagues,
I have some terrific news to share with you. We have blocked the Department of Education’s attempt to circumvent our contract and members’ rights in the 24 “turnaround” schools. The city’s political maneuver was doing untold harm to our students and school communities.
The DOE has tried to “close” these schools and immediately re-open them under new names. We never believed these were new schools and never believed this “closure” process was a viable way to improve these schools. It was clear to us that the mayor was advancing his political interests at the expense of the students, staff and parents of these schools.
The principals’ union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, was our partner in this fight. After months of difficult litigation, an independent arbitrator ruled today that the DOE violated the UFT and CSA contracts, validating our belief that the “new” schools the DOE claims it was creating were in reality not new schools. The DOE was attempting to remove half the staff in each of these schools. The arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, ruled that all members working in these schools in June have the right to stay or return to their schools in September.
This hard-won victory is a testament to our strength and unity. Parents, students, teachers and supervisors all came together in this battle. We beat back the mayor’s best efforts to rip these schools apart and vilify their teachers. These 24 school communities will now have the opportunity to continue the hard work of helping their students reach their potential.
The arbitrator’s decision is focused on the question of whether or not the city’s actions violated our contracts. The larger issue, though, is that the centerpiece of the DOE’s school improvement strategy — closing struggling schools — does not work.
Parents, students and teachers need the DOE to fix struggling schools, rather than giving up on them. The UFT will continue to support these schools in every way possible.
Thank you again for everything you do for your students — and enjoy your summer.
Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew


City Retreats On School Closure Plan

LINK

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After a six-month battle to purge teachers and administrators at 24 low-performing schools, the Bloomberg administration retreated Wednesday and said the schools should plan for the return of the same employees in the fall.
The city still hopes to win an appeal that would allow it to close and immediately reopen the schools with largely new staffs. The schools had been placed on a state list of failing schools that made them eligible to compete for $58 million in federal grants.
[image]Getty Images
Protesters in February expressed opposition to the Bloomberg administration's push to close and re-open group of struggling schools with different teaching staffs.
But the Department of Education lost several legal rounds with teachers and principals unions, which called the closings an end-run around contractual seniority protections. The latest blow came Tuesday when a state judge denied the city's request to allow it to move forward with the plan pending the outcome of the legal case.
"I have a responsibility to open our schools, and open our schools in a way that allows our students to learn," schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Wednesday. "We have to operate under the principle that the staff who were at the school will be coming back."


Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the plan in January after negotiations broke down over changes to teacher evaluations that would have made it easier to fire low-rated educators. In a forceful move, the mayor said he would bypass the unions and shut schools that had been deemed failures.
More than 3,600 teachers, administrators and principals were given pink slip-like notices in June and told they could reapply for their jobs, apply to other schools or be placed into a group of rotating substitutes. Some, including 18 of 24 principals, were quickly invited back.
The city had been recruiting and hiring for the new schools, but the offers were contingent on whether the city prevailed in arbitration with the unions. At least half of the six principals who weren't invited back were approached about working in central administration jobs, a principals union official said.
Arbitrator Scott Buchheit ruled in favor of the unions on June 29. In his ruling, Mr. Buchheit said the city was using "circular reasoning" to argue that the replacement schools were new. The city said that despite having many of the same principals, programs and alumni associations, the schools should be considered "new" in large part because they would have significantly different staffs.
The city appealed and asked for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed it to proceed. That was denied on Tuesday.
Union officials said the delays began to cut into preparation time. "July is an intensely important month for the planning of the upcoming school year," said David Grandwetter, an attorney for the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators.
Schools officials said the quality of children's education was being lost in the fight over adults' careers. They said they waited to make a decision until the restraining order was denied because it was a crucial point in the fight.
Write to Lisa Fleisher at lisa.fleisher@wsj.com


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Friday, June 29, 2012

Dont Drink UFT President Mike Mulgrew's Brew

In my opinion, Mike Mulgrew's statement in the article below, "Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the results were evidence that the new procedures to resolve charges against teachers were working. All the demonizing that went on with these teachers, all of the complaints that this could never be fixed were wrong.” he said. “Once there was a will there was a way. Not only did this work, it worked better than we could have imagined" is accurate.

His statement "It’s fast and its fair, and that’s what we wanted.” is bull-oney.

Mike Mulgrew is one of the people who led the way on the most outrageous destruction of due process rights I have ever seen, and I've seen alot, both inside and outside of the court system. I also - in case you are new to this blog - have donated nine (9) years to attending open 3020-a hearings so that I could understand how teachers were fired and/or removed from their teaching positions after being thrown into a NYC "rubber room" or, as the "rubber rooms" are now labelled, "re-assignment" locations..

There are many articles available on how the rubber rooms of NYC were filled with tenured (and some untenured) teachers, but little has been written about the massive violations of due process that occurred when each case was brought to arbitration or resolution.
Here is an example:

A tenured math teacher placed into a rubber room because of an allegation of a child, then fired her NYSUT attorney and hired a private attorney to represent her at her 3020-a. He became ill, and had to go to the hospital. The lawyer requested time for his case to go forward. The arbitrator, Mary Crangle, refused. the teacher could not find another attorney and went to three days of the hearing begging for an extention of time for her case. She was denied. I was with her. Crangle was rude and condescending, clearly believing that the teacher was guilty of the charges and just needed to be terminated. I had read all the papers and I believed the teacher was not guilty of the charges and it was a set up by the Principal. (By the way, all those who say I think all teachers are innocent, this is not so, and I do not protect the guilty). On the third day we saw a woman being ushered into the hearing room by DOE Attorney Marvin Pope. I asked the teacher, "Who is that?" The teacher said she didn't know. I replied, well, as she is now testifying against you at your hearing, we have to wait outside for her and ask her her name. By this time the teacher refused to set through the hearing and hear Crangle's insults to her.
When this witness came out, the teacher said, "hello, can you tell me your name?"
The woman said her name, and then asked the teacher "Who are you?" (After the person had testified at the teacher's hearing).
The next day we appeared for the hearing day, and Crangle's name was not on the hearing schedule. The receptionist called Marvin Pope, and heard from him that he had rested his case the day before, and Crangle closed the record. The decision would be in the mail. The teacher was terminated.

The teacher and I complained to the UFT, NYSUT and the DOE, but no one responded. I'm not sure where Ms. Otterman got the facts for her article below.


March 11, 2011, 6:16 pm
Most Teachers in Disciplinary Limbo Have Returned to Class
By SHARON OTTERMAN, NY Times

Whatever happened to all those teachers who were cooling their heels in the city’s infamous “rubber rooms,” doing nothing while waiting to hear if they would be fired on charges of incompetence or worse?

Most have been returned to the classroom, according to new data released on Friday by the Department of Education.

Under an agreement between the city and the teachers’ union last April, all 744 teachers and administrators then awaiting decisions in the city’s reassignment centers — or rubber rooms — had to have their cases resolved by the end of 2010. Education officials said Friday that all hearings had been completed, although teachers still await judgments in 50 cases, and 33 of the teachers still have open criminal cases against them.

Of the 661 teachers and administrators who have learned their fates, 474 have been “returned to service,” which means they have resumed whatever job they were doing before, generally teaching. About 200 were cleared following the investigations and 270 received penalties, whether a fine, mandatory training, a letter being placed in their file or suspension without pay.

About a quarter of the teachers, 181 of them, are no longer employed by the Department of Education. Of those, 59 were fired following a legal process; 27 resigned or retired; 94 agreed to quit in a settlement; and one died.

Six teachers were permanently re-assigned to nonclassroom duties.

The rubber rooms formally closed in June, and teachers removed from the classroom these days are assigned to administrative offices around the city. They must be charged within 60 days, while before, it could take years. As a result, there are now only 123 reassigned employees, including the 83 old cases, the city said.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the results were evidence that that the new procedures to resolve charges against teachers were working.

“All the demonizing that went on with these teachers, all of the complaints that this could never be fixed were wrong.” he said. “Once there was a will there was a way. Not only did this work, it worked better than we could have imagined. It’s fast and its fair, and that’s what we wanted.”

“Ending the rubber rooms was certainly a critical step,” said Barbara Morgan, a schools spokeswoman, said that but she added that the city still had to do more to make sure it retains the best teachers.

14 Comments

  1. 1. March 11, 2011 6:45 pm Link
    What does returned to service mean?
    I think this is another example of Mulgrew lying and hurting the students.
    teacher
  2. 2. March 11, 2011 6:49 pm Link
    STUPID STUPID STUPID!!
    — STUPID
  3. 3. March 11, 2011 7:10 pm Link
    The best part was that the City was able to retain the services of the best teachers – excellent news for our children. In the real world most of these employees would have been fired.
    — Jim Hunter
  4. 4. March 11, 2011 7:27 pm Link
    Huh?! What??!! Huh?!.
    — Patrick Star
  5. 5. March 11, 2011 8:15 pm Link
    …which just goes to show that just taking the word of many of the ill prepared Principals that such and such a teacher is incompetent is terribly unfair It’s probably true of the vast majority of the teachers in the ATR whom the previous inmcompetent lawyer who masqueraded as an educator for 8 long dark years branded as teacher who nobody wants should also be back in classrooms. Which shows how idiotic the bill passed by the State Senate which would have summarily fired them made no sense.
    — Jeff S
  6. 6. March 12, 2011 8:16 am Link
    What !! You mean Michelle Rhee, Klein and bloomberg LIED!! Rather than the THOUSANDS of criminals and perverts etc they claimed–less than 1/10th of 1%of the city’s 80,000 Teachers end up having even the slightest issue. That’s right less than 1/10th of 1%—So lets compare these numbers to say-Elected Officials that are daily being brought up on criminal charges, or City Officials that seem to have a problem keeping our money out of their pockets.
    The Truth hurts when you you lie to the public they ALWAYS find out—always!
    — nuff said
  7. 7. March 12, 2011 8:23 am Link
    So lets look where the money really goes–Time for an in depth audit of the “Schools Construction Authority”–you know that opaque organization where the budget was just increased from $11.6 BILLION to $16.1 Billion–the same organization that AFTER Klein resigned 11/9/10 on 11/12/10 he moved $1 Billion dollars from General Ed to SCA for his IZone Schools–supposedly due to State accountability mandates that don’t exist!! And now hge gets $4.5 mmillion/year to run News Corps–yes you got it –IZone Project!!!- Conflict of interest -you bet!!
    — nuff said
  8. 8. March 12, 2011 10:05 am Link
    The fact that more than SEVENTY percent of the teachers who had been suspended and banished to a miserable limbo created by a busted system WERE RETURNED TO THEIR OLD JOBS after they were given due process is telling. When accusers were asked to provide evidence of any transgression, what happened? None existed. Strange. Here’s an idea! Teachers are sometimes removed from classrooms for arbitrary reasons that have more to do with self-serving administrators settling personal scores and protecting themselves than for doing anything that would be detrimental to the students. Bad teachers exist and should be fired. and excellent administrators abound. But if you’ve spent ten minutes in the NYCDOE system, you’d understand that gross ineptitude–stunning and often comic incompetence–and even corruption among administrators is downright common. This fact needs to be addressed when considering any educational policy in NYC.
    — concerned citizen
  9. 9. March 12, 2011 12:38 pm Link
    I would bet that a great many of these cases resulted from a vendetta or retaliation against teachers by administrators. The fact that many were returned to service indicated that there was little or no evidence of wrong doing.
    If it were not for tenure laws, many of these innocent teachers would have been deprived of their livelyhood and many students would have lost the services of possibly good teachers.
    Having worked in the school system for over thirty years, including many years for the central administration, I know that there are as many bad, malicious supervisors as there are bad, malicious teachers. Until we get rid of the bad supervisors, we need to keep strong tenure laws.
    — Cliff
  10. 10. March 12, 2011 1:58 pm Link
    Why are many citizens so stingy-minded when due process for teachers or other employees is in question? ALL workers in the public and private sector and at any level of service deserve due process in whatever form has been accepted practice.
    This is still the USA and due process rights are our inalienable right. The open season on reachers and schools is vicious and ill-motivated. There id too much propagandizing by the right when PUBLIC SCHOOLS are involved.
    — ron071
  11. 11. March 13, 2011 8:54 am Link
    I am curious and ask the Times to investigate and report how many of the teachers entered into stipulation agreements with the Department of Education. There has existed for some time a policy that the Klein administration seemed to encourage. Teachers would have charges dropped or reduced if they enter into stipulation agreements that usually offered reduced charges if they agreed to pay a fine of several thousand dollars. It would be interesting to find out the numbers of teachers and the amount s paid. I suspect that many cases were petty charges or trumped up charges but I am sure a certain number of cases would raise a few eyebrows and embarass the DOE.
    — richard mangone
  12. 12. March 13, 2011 2:09 pm Link
    Of course, every single returned teacher, etc. was absolutely innocent and the cream of the crop.
    There’s just no way that because all 744 cases had to be resolved by the end of last year, some cases that would have been more work to prove, were abandoned.
    It isn’t possible that maybe, just maybe, some people who really aren’t a credit to the system got the benefit of work rules designed to keep all but the most egregious violators in their job.
    Nope… not possible. Ask the union delegate.
    — neversleep
  13. 13. March 14, 2011 11:38 am Link
    The rubber rooms were created by Bloomberg and former chancellor Klein themselves, not by the UFT. Some of them never even got their cases heard and are still there now. Rather than putting them in limbo like the rubber room, they should be allowed to still keep their job until their hearings come. I am not surprised that Bloomberg is going up against something that he originally created in the first place, but that’s Bloomberg for you. I think his double speak was showing.
    — Tal Barzilai
  14. 14. March 15, 2011 2:19 pm Link
    What’s telling is the numbers became more of an embarrassment to Klein because principals were using the RR as a way of “getting even” with teachers who were not intimidated. To think that many of these people spent 5 years in solitary confinement also speaks to a very weak union.
    What happens to the principals who put in false claims?
    Shouldn’t they lose their jobs or at least be sued in civil courts?
    Guilty or not, justice isn’t this slow in America.
    — Linda

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dean Stephan Hudson Beats Up 15-Year old Kristoff John

The Department of Education lied to the parent and covered up what Dean Stephan Hudson did to15-year old Kristoff John.

Happens all the time.

The lying by the DOE, I mean, to parents, police, safety agents, arbitrators, anyone who doesnt buy "their" version of the "facts".

That is why I started this blog - because in the end, no one knew really anything about the thousands of people who were re-assigned over the past 10 years, in the new or old rubber rooms, along the same line as in Elentuck v Green, where the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division ruled that there are no facts in observations. However arbitrators hired by the UFT-NYSUT-DOE Gotcha Squad Teacher Performance Unit (incompetency cases) have terminated teachers for so-called "incompetency" based upon observations by the principals, APs, and PIP+ observers who simply gave an opinion, biased and predetermined in many cases.

Not only have excellent teachers been put through this unfair torture for no reason other than retaliation, jealousy, hatred, or other non-professional motives, but when good teachers are removed no one takes their place. No one is really in charge, its' a free-for-all "I-can-get-rid-of-you" power scheme.

To protect his favorites in the schools, Mayor Bloomberg banned cell phones from children, because many were taking pictures of Deans, APs, Principals, and teaachers beating kids up. Mike wanted to stop children and their parents from telling him what to do.

And, there are teachers out there who hit children and take kids home with them for the wrong reasons.

So, stories like the beating of Mr. John, 15 years old, is again, reason for concern about Dennis Walcott and Mayor Bloomberg's continued supervision.


SEE IT: Hulking teacher slams teen at school

When Diane John got a call from her son’s school saying he’d gotten into a fight with a teacher, she thought the boy was lying when he insisted he’d done nothing wrong.
Then she got a call from the Daily News.
“Oh my god!” she gasped when The News first showed her a shocking video revealing what really happened to 15-year-old Kristoff John during the March 6 incident at school. “No! No! No!”
The exclusive video obtained by the paper shows the scrawny freshman taking a severe beating from a much larger teacher at the George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Brooklyn.
The video shows shop teacher and security dean Stephan Hudson grabbing the boy by his arm, throwing him to the ground and bashing him twice against a table.
At the end of the fight, the boy is apprehended by school cops.

 

Kristof John, 15, is now living in Grenada with family to escape the abuse he suffered at the Brooklyn school.

“They lied to me!” the betrayed mom said tearfully when The News showed her the clip for the first time. “No one wants to see their son taken advantage of and beaten like this.”
The school had told her that her son had been the aggressor in a “little incident” with a teacher, she said.
She was told that the school was being generous by not punishing the boy.
Now, she said, she’s furious — and wants answers.
Kristoff said the attack left his back so sore that he couldn’t walk properly for several days.
“I was fearing for my life,” he said. “I was surprised he hit me. I didn’t have time to think.”

Principal Janine Kieran didn't respond to News' requests after security dean is caught on camera severely beating student.

The 5-foot-3 boy who weighs just 116 pounds said he transferred out of the school after the incident and is now living with an aunt in his family’s native Grenada.
He said he did nothing to provoke the altercation.
The teacher, Hudson, refused to talk to The News when confronted at the school’s graduation and again at his Jersey City home.
The school’s principal, Janine Kieran, also did not respond to several requests for comment.
An Education Department spokeswoman said Hudson, who has been working in city schools since 1990 and makes $95,202, was disciplined over the incident but declined to elaborate.
According to Kristoff, the scuffle began on a morning when he was running late for class. When he swiped his security card at the school entrance, it didn’t work and he tried to push through.
Hudson, who at nearly 300 pounds is more than twice the boy’s size, grabbed the young man by the arm to stop him, a surveillance video shows.

Three safety agents tackled freshman Kristoff John to break up fight while Stephan Hudson walked away.

When the boy yanked his arm away, Hudson grabbed him again and brutally threw him to the floor, before dragging him across a table and wrestling him to the ground.
As horrified students began to gather in a crowd, three school safety agents arrived and tackled the boy. Hudson walked away.
Kids who saw the fight said it was a one-sided beatdown.
Mr. Hudson should’ve let him go,” said Arleth Morfe, 17, a senior from Bayside who witnessed the altercation, adding, “It looked like Kristoff was having a panic attack.”
That afternoon, it was Hudson who made the call to Kristoff’s mother. He told her that Kristoff had attacked him but that he would graciously settle the matter quietly.
“He said they would shake hands and work it out, but I never knew the extent of it,” said John, adding, “They didn’t tell me anything else.”
When John’s son got home, he told her that Hudson had started the dustup and that his back had been injured by the muscular, 39-year-old dean.
“He said, but mom, you haven’t seen the video,” said John, who claims she asked principal Kieran to locate the footage.
“The principal told me she was going to look into it and get back to me — but she never got back to me,” said John, who let the matter drop.
After a few weeks the boy was still miserable and complaining of being bullied at school — so John sent him to live with her sister in Grenada.

Jeff Bachner for New York Daily News

Diane John displays a photo of her son Kristoff John.

Now that she’s seen the video, John wants Education officials and police to investigate the incident.
In the meantime, she believes that Hudson should be removed from the school.
“That man should be gone,” she said.
John’s fiancĂ© is diplomat Derrick James, Grenada’s consul general in New York.
James viewed the video as a family member, but said his office will investigate the matter.
“We are going to look into this and see what we can do as a community to make sure that this does not happen to any child,” said James, adding, “What’s most troubling is that the parent was lied to.”
With Kerry Burke, Dan McCarthy and Joe Kemp
bchapman@nydailynews.com

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brooklyn Teacher Erica Bloom Says That Administrators Threatened Her To Make Her Change Student Grades


NYC teacher: Bosses made me doctor grades

By BRAD HAMILTON, NYPOST, Last Updated:6:57 AM, June 24, 2012
Posted:12:11 AM, June 24, 2012

A Brooklyn geometry teacher with a remarkable record of academic success says she was pressured into giving passing grades to two failing seniors so they could graduate.
The inflated scores allowed the students to get their diplomas from Sheepshead Bay HS on Friday, despite both having flunked her class.
Erica Bloom, 36, (at left) says administrators used threats to pressure her into changing the final marks for the two, raising their scores from a failing 55 to a passing 65.
“They said if I didn’t change them, I could expect another ‘3020’ [disciplinary hearing], which would mean the removal of my license,” Bloom said. “So I lose my job, my insurance, my pension — everything, after 14 years.”
She says she signed off on the changed grades, hurled the new paperwork at an assistant principal and stormed off.
At issue was the students’ poor performance on the geometry Regents exam on Wednesday.
Bloom says new school Principal John O’Mahoney had insisted that all students take the Regents — and that their scores should count for 10 percent of their final grades.
One of the students notched a 53 on the test. The other failed to show up.
“A guidance counselor [for one student] came in and asked me to change his grade,” she said.
He was followed by the assistant principal “who came in and kept asking, ‘Why are you failing him?’ ”
Another asked about the second student.
“I was pressured by everybody,” she said.
She then went to O’Mahoney’s office but he refused to intervene. “He didn’t say a thing,” she said.
Bloom says she suffers from an eating disorder and exceeded her allowable sick days in 2009 and 2010, leading to an unfavorable attendance rating.
In 2011, she took 10 days, the approved limit.
“But they went back and found one day where I left early, so they said I took 10.33 sick days.”
Which would mean a third straight year of excessive absenteeism — and a likely termination, Bloom says.
“I was hysterical,” she said.
Faced with that threat, she says, she signed off on the grade changes.
The Department of Education said O’Mahoney did nothing wrong.
“The principal acted properly,” said spokeswoman Margie Feinberg. “This was not an issue of changing grades.”

NYSED: Q & A About Teacher Discipline

1.      What type of complaints against teachers, administrators, or other certified 
       school personnel can I file with the Education Department?

Generally, a complaint should be filed if you have information that a 

       certified educator has been convicted of a crime or committed an act that 
      raises a serious question as to his or to her moral character, or when you 
      believe that the conduct of a teacher or administrator poses a threat to the 
      welfare of a child or a school community. Complaints concerning incompetence, 
      negligence, or dissatisfaction with teaching style or philosophy will typically 
     not result in State action against certification. Those issues should be reported 
     directly to your local school district.

 
2.      Should I first file my complaint at the local level, e.g., school principal 
       or superintendent of schools, before filing with the State?

We encourage you to file your complaint at the local level first since 

      many complaints against certificate holders are satisfactorily resolved at 
      this level with remedial action. This office, however, has the authority to 
      initiate a separate investigation against a
certificate holder. 

 
3.      Can I file a complaint against a teacher who is employed in a private school?

You may file a complaint against a teacher who is employed in a non-public 

      school if the teacher is certified. This office has the authority to investigate 
      the conduct of certificate holders and refer the matter to the professional conduct 
     officer for action when appropriate.   

 
4.      Can I file a complaint against a teaching assistant or teacher's aide?

This office only has the authority to investigate individuals who hold 

      or who are applicants for certification. Generally, teaching assistants are 
      certified by the Education Department and teacher aides are not. Complaints 
      against an uncertified individual should be directed to the school principal or 
      to the superintendent of schools.  
 
5.      If I file a complaint how will I know if it has been received?

Receipt of your complaint will be acknowledged in writing. Thereafter, it 

      will be assigned to an investigator, who may contact you to discuss your 
      complaint in greater detail. 

 
6.      At the conclusion of the investigation of my complaint, what happens next?

If the investigation fails to support sufficient evidence to proceed, the case will be 
      closed with no further action taken. You will be advised in writing of the closure 
     of the case. If after investigation there is a sufficient basis to initiate action against 
    the questioned certificate holder, a recommendation will be made to the State 
    Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching to consider whether to 
     proceed to a formal administrative hearing.  

 
7.      Will I be required to testify at an administrative hearing if my complaint goes 
    that far?

As part of the hearing process, evidence will be presented and testimony provided
by witnesses and others to address whether the certificate holder lacks good moral
character. The Department may ask you to testify under oath at the hearing. 

 
8.      What types of penalties can be imposed against a certificate holder following an 
administrative hearing?

The range of penalties includes the imposition of a fine, continuing education,
certificate suspension, certificate revocation, and the denial to be issued a certificate
in the case of an applicant. 

New Rules For 3020-a Arbitration Effective April 1, 2012

Education Law §3020-a Changes (Effective April 1, 2012)

Date:April 4, 2012
To:District Superintendents
School Superintendents
New York City Department of Education
New York State Council of School Superintendents
New York State School Boards Association
United Federation of Teachers 
New York State United Teachers
School Administrators Association of New York State
Council of School Supervisors & Administrators
New York State Association of School Personnel Administrators
New York State Association of School Attorneys
New York State Association of Management Advocates for School Labor Affairs
American Arbitration Association
From:Valerie Grey, Executive Deputy Commissioner
Subject:Education Law §3020-a Changes (Effective April 1, 2012)
 Education Law §3020-a Changes (Effective April 1, 2012) pdf (375KB)
As part of its 2011 legislative agenda, the Board of Regents sought a number of modifications to the tenured teacher hearing process set forth in Education Law §3020-a to address spiraling costs and the extraordinary length of time to conduct hearings. This legislation was introduced in the Assembly and Senate. The Governor’s proposed 2012-13 State Budget included some of these reforms and the State Budget as adopted by the Legislature included a number of important programmatic and fiscal reforms.   The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify and provide guidance on the major changes set forth in Education Law §3020-a.  The Department is reviewing these changes and will make conforming amendments to the regulations to implement the law.  The Department will also be updating TEACH (a web-based data information system) to allow for greater access to case information and relevant dates.  During this transitional period, the Department thanks all affected parties in advance for their patience and cooperation as we work together to ensure successful implementation of the new Education Law §3020-a reform measures.     
Below is a summary of the major Education Law §3020-a revisions.  For specific guidance, please refer to the actual statutory language, a copy of which has been attached to this memo.
Effective Date
The change set forth in the amendments to Education Law §3020-a take place immediately and apply to all charges against tenured educators filed with the clerk or secretary of the school district or employing board on or after April 1, 2012. 
  • All affected parties should be aware of this effective date and are strongly advised to carefully review these changes and how they may affect any cases currently in progress or those that are anticipated.
  • The parties are strongly encouraged to develop the necessary tracking systems to ensure that responsibilities are carried out in a timely and professional manner, so that no party is unduly penalized by the very stringent timelines set forth in the statute.
Prohibition on Introduction of Evidence After 125 days
A significant change is the prohibition on the introduction of evidence more than 125 days after the filing of charges unless there are extraordinary circumstances beyond control of the parties set forth in Education Law §3020-a(3)(c)(vii).  Proceedings under §3020-a have traditionally taken far too long to resolve and this provision is designed to ensure timely resolution by prohibiting the introduction of evidence beyond a certain point in the proceeding.  This means that once the charges are filed, all parties should work expeditiously and cooperatively to complete the case in a timely manner so that cases are resolved within the statutory timeline of 125 days after the filing of charges.  After 125 days no additional evidence shall be accepted unless there are extraordinary circumstances beyond control of the parties.  The “extraordinary circumstances” rule was meant to provide for that rare occasion when evidence truly could not be introduced in a timely manner.
  • The Department anticipates that modifications to TEACH will help the parties easily identify the relevant dates.  Until that time, arbitrators are expected to closely monitor the relevant dates and ensure adherence.
Department Selects Arbitrator When Parties Can Not Agree
The new amendments also modify the manner in which an arbitrator is selected if the parties fail to agree on an arbitrator selection within 15 days of receipt of the list.  Education Law §3020-a(3)(b)(iii) states that  “[i]f the employing board and the employee fail to agree on an arbitrator  to serve as a hearing officer from the list of potential hearing officers, or fail to notify the commissioner of a selection  within  such  fifteen day  time  period, the commissioner shall appoint a hearing officer from the list.”  This provision authorizes the Commissioner to select the arbitrator if the parties fail to agree by the 15th day.  It does not apply to NYC where there is an alternative procedure. 
  • Historically, the Department only intervened when notified of the failure to agree, however, the amended language does not require the Commissioner to wait until notification of the failure to agree.  The Commissioner will be authorized to select an arbitrator if no selection is affirmatively made by the 15th day. 
  • To ensure that all parties get proper notice of the list, the Department will continue its current practice of emailing the list of potential arbitrators to the school attorney and the employee attorney, if one has been designated by the employee.  Where no attorney is provided by the employee, the list will be sent directly to the employee. 
  • A hearing officer selection will be considered timely, if it is emailed to the dedicated tenure email box (TENURE@mail.nysed.gov) by the close of business on 15th calendar day. 
  • To minimize any potential delays that may occur at the school district level, the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) has agreed to directly bill the school district for the production of the arbitrator list.  Schools are strongly encouraged to send the charges to the Department immediately without a check to AAA and make payment arrangements directly with AAA after the compilation of the list. AAA will take payment in the form of check or credit card for the $150 fee. 
Department Can Establish Maximum Arbitrator Rates and Study Hours
An amendment to Education Law §3020-a(3)(b)(i)(B) requires the Commissioner to establish a schedule for “maximum rates of compensation of hearing officers based on customary and reasonable fees for service as an arbitrator and provide for limitations on the number of study hours that may be claimed” (emphasis added).  The purpose of this amendment was to give the Commissioner the authority to control costs. 
  • Over the next several weeks, the Department will be conducting an analysis to determine both the appropriate rates and the maximum number of study hours for these types of proceedings.  Once the analysis is complete, the Commissioner will be establishing guidelines for arbitrator fees and study hours. 
  • All new arbitrator appointments will be contingent upon accepting the new maximum fee and study hour rates established by the Commissioner.
  • It is anticipated that the new TEACH modifications will incorporate changes in the manner in which arbitrator invoices are filed with the Department, to permit online filing to ensure accuracy, and improve the time it takes to process payments.
Department Can Exclude Arbitrators For Untimeliness
Pursuant to Education Law §3020-a(3)(c)(i)(B) the Department is authorized to monitor and investigate a hearing officer’s compliance with the timelines set forth in the statute.  The Commissioner may exclude any hearing officer who has a record of continued failure to commence and conclude hearings within the timelines prescribed in the statute.
  • The Department anticipates that modifications to TEACH will help the parties easily identify the relevant dates.  Until that time, the Department will monitor manually. 
New Technology for Recording Hearings is Allowed
Education Law §3020-a(3)(c)(i)(D) continues the requirement that an accurate “record” of the proceedings be kept at the expense of the Department and furnished upon request to the employee and the board of education.  The statutory changes, however, permit the Department to take advantage of any new technology to transcribe or record the hearings in an accurate, reliable, efficient and cost effective manner. 
  • The Department will explore other cost-effective alternatives to recording and producing transcripts for these proceedings, however, there will be no immediate change to the manner in which these hearings are recorded.
Appropriation For New Cases
In order to ensure that the new reforms are successful, the law provides that any claims for cases in which charges were filed after April 1, 2012 be paid first out of the funds appropriated for the 2012-13 fiscal year pursuant to Education Law §3020-a(3)(b)(i)(A).  Total spending for 2012-13 is limited to $3.8 million.
  • This amendment will ensure that the Department is able to make timely payments for services rendered for new cases under the new system during 2012-13.  Thus arbitrators who accept cases under the new system with the new time constraints will be reimbursed for their services in a timely manner.  Any funds remaining will be used to pay for claims on cases that had charges filed prior to April 1, 2012. 
One Year limitation on Claims
Education Law §3020-a(3)(d) imposes a one-year limitation, following the final disposition of the hearing, for the submission of claims for reimbursement for services rendered.  The purpose of this amendment was to encourage timely submission of claims so that accurate budget assumptions can be made and claims can be paid for in a reasonable time. 
New Forms   The Education Law §3020-a forms are in the process of being updated.  It is imperative that schools use the updated forms for any cases commenced under the new system because they will reflect the new changes and provide critical information necessary to expedite the administrative steps for opening of cases and the appointment of the hearing officer.  It is anticipated that the new forms will be available within a week.  Please refer to: Teacher Tenure Hearing (3020a) for further information.

Questions
If you have any questions please contact Deborah A. Marriott, Director, Office of School Personnel Review and Accountability at 518-474-3021 or send an email to her attention atTENURE@mail.nysed.gov.
c:  Deborah A. Marriott