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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The True Facts About Donna Blaine And Her Facebook Charge

Donna Blaine answered her accusers, the New York City Department of Education- NY POST-Partnership, so here is the Truth about her case as stated in an email to me this afternoon:

 I am the Donna Blaine referred to in the woefully erroneous Post article involving teachers posting on Facebook. I was horrified by what I saw, and this is why:
  • the photos featured were taken on Aruba, NOT during my Puerto Rico trip. I did NOT post photos from that weekend, nor did I "regale" anyone. 
  • I was investigated by OSI intensively for ONE SINGLE (admittedly stupid) comment posted on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving break, which I foolishly took as a sick day. My comment was "Up, up, and away!"
  • the investigation into that "theft of services" issue came on the very day I returned to work following a liver biopsy that revealed that my breast cancer had returned as stage 4
  • the Aruba trip depicted in the article was originally intended as a 30th anniversary celebration but became a bonding opportunity as my husband and I tried to deal with my health issue.
  • I have been a NYC teacher for 10 years, and this is my second bout with BC. I have NEVER taken a medical leave or exceeded my allotted sick days.
  • I drive nearly 100 miles round trip to work, despite weekly chemotherapy appointments .
And key here is the fact that my case was resolved over a year ago in a satisfactory manner for all involved.

As you can see, I carry a great deal of anger that I was so unjustly mischaracterized. I believe I should be an example of what is right about the dedication of teachers; instead, I am now the poster girl for everything negative in the educational atmosphere.

Thank you for being a voice that attempted to clarify Facebook's role in the daily lives of honest people.

Facebook Statement Again Reported In The NYPOST

"Facebook is giving more Big Apple teachers a black eye" says the NYPOST today (see the article re-posted below). But we need to look at all the circumstances surrounding a "facebook teacher" and not judge simply because the NYPOST is telling us to.

The article in today's NYPOST shows once again the agenda of the media to go after teacher stories which support the DOE or help Mayor Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott get their policies in order, or at least agreed to by legislators. The NYC DOE still has no internet policy. They are trying to create one by using the Daily News and the NYPOST. Why not? It works.
Donna Blaine
The NYC rubber rooms were created and run by the NYC DOE, pursuant to Mayor Bloomberg's order to remove tenured employees from the public school system but make it look like they were honoring the required mandate of due process. The media also placed the blame for these warehouses on the UFT, when indeed, it was the DOE's baby, from charges to termination/settlement/retirement/resignation. The UFT just did nothing to stop it, and there was a gradual erosion of contractual rights over time, especially in 2005 when the grieving of letters to file was prohibited. This became a huge problem when "they" - the Mayor, the Chancellor, the Gotcha Squad, the New York Law Department - realized that the people stored in the warehouses were talking to each other and to the media. In fact, in 2007, many teachers believed that if they were in the newspaper, they would get a resolution to their case. I spoke to most of the rubber roomers, and I would say that certainly less than a third should have been re- assigned. Luckily, I could go to the very people who were involved in this effort to re-assign people, as in 2007 I was hired by the UFT to go into the rooms. The problem that arose was that the UFT in fact never wanted me to find out who was being treated unfairly, and when I started asking the right questions and I started this blog to highlight the unfairness of the rubberization process, I was attacked by the UFT. This is the story to be told in my book and on this blog at a later date.
In 2007-2008 everyone started talking to reporters, not realizing that their story and career would be falsified to fit the needs of Bloomberg/Klein, namely to shut down the rubber rooms.  The advice by UFT reps to not speak to anyone did not ring true to the people who sat in the temporary re-assignment rooms after these re-assigned professionals started trading stories of how the UFT district reps did not help them. I asked why this was happening and was told to shut up. I didnt.
The next step, where the Tweedies are now, is the fine tuning of a policy to get rid of anyone with tenure, and all probationary teachers about to get tenure, without spending time on due process. As I have previously posted, Dennis Walcott is on Youtube saying that "Just Cause" is a waste of time. To me, this is one of his most chilling statements ever. Tenure rights are protected by law in New York State, last I checked. Walcott says, who needs [the Constitution]? (Also on my website here and here)
Dennis Walcott
The Facebook issue is so clearly trash journalism.I posted the Facebook page and comments of the NYC DOE's Records Access officer, Joseph Baranello, on my blog. I then spoke with a reporter who presented this to her editor, and she heard from the DOE that if the newspaper did the story of Baranello, then the DOE would look bad. So, the Baranello story never ran in any newspaper. Of course it didnt. The media contact for the NYC DOE told the media, dont do this story, and the editors listen to that.
Here is my story and links once again:

NYC Department of Education Attorney Joseph Baranello Uses Facebook To Comment About The "Douchebags" On The L Train

  Joseph Baranello

It seems to me from Mr. Baranello's comments, he thought that people who dress up as Santa Clauses look like "douchebags"; and he thinks the Jewish Sukkah is silly, disgraceful, or whatever: 
Joe Baranello "Get your sukkahs on, suckas".
September 19, 2010 at 4:42pm
It seems to me that he should be reprimanded for the comments about Sukkah and that people dressed up as Santa Clauses are "douchbags". Im Jewish but I was raised as a Presbyterian and lived in Egypt, Israel and Jordan. I value all cultures, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic level, whatever. I dont feel good about what he wrote on his page about Sukkahs, and I wonder if his Supervisor thought this as well. I dont think anything was said to Baranello, as there is definitely a double standard in the NYC DOE. (sometimes I try to be humorous).
The Facebook stories are serious, however, and I take each one that I hear, seriously. It is true that people who use Facebook should be careful about what they put out into cyberspace. It is also true that if you take a vacation and lie about it after you have put your picture on Facebook enjoying some sun outside of New York City when you were supposed to be in school, then you have to expect consequences. What is not believable is that all the teachers in the article re-posted are the perverts and criminals who have to be terminated for making a Facebook comment, as our Mayor, Chancellor, the Gotcha Squad and the New York Law Department/Corporation Counsel are saying.  
In the article is a teacher by the name of Pat Dawson. I attended the first two days of her open and public 3020-a hearing at 51 Chambers Street, and so did approximately 12 other people. There was standing room only. Ms. Dawson is obviously a person who has many of friends and supporters, as Norm Scott pointed out on his blog:
 "A popular and effective teacher
And thus it is with the Facebook teacher, who even Stanzione admitted was not only a good teacher but one that students gravitated to, as did other teachers. In fact she was Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA) and was chosen to represent the school at recruiting fairs with the approval of Stanzione --- an unpaid volunteer position.  She was so popular with students, I imagine she had grown so comfortable with them that she said a few things on Facebook that look bad when in isolation, but as pointed out by union lawyer Callegy, nothing that isn't said all the time in teacher rooms, which Stanzione readily acknowledged."
 Will it make a difference? At this point, the only information we have on possible outcome is the information already testified to and the information about the Arbitrator, Joshua Javits. My opinion about Mr. Javits as an arbitrator who is supposed to be a neutral in the process: he is not neutral. Having observed him as an arbitrator more than once, I see someone who has no idea what is important or not, he thinks everything should be in evidence, even if the letter/rating/memo is not signed, and the Respondent teacher testifies that he/she never saw it. In it goes. Then, Javits' pattern and practice is to terminate or take whatever position the DOE wants him to take.
What concerns me in the Dawson case is that until a few days before the NYC DOE started the hearing on April 4 2012 it seems that the Gotcha Squad Attorney, Andrea Chilaka, didnt have a case. What we heard on April 5, when the Principal, Michael Stanzione, came in, was that two days before, Stanzione was told by "legal" to call in a student who was named on Dawson's Facebook page but had never seen it or heard about it, and he was asked to testify to how he "felt" more than 14 months after the Facebook comment was made, and almost as many months after the Facebook page was permanently removed from the internet by Ms. Dawson. This former student testified that he was shocked, and he didnt understand why his former teacher would do this. Callagy asked him, "You know that you cannot ask ms. Dawson, right?"
I personally find Ms. Chilaka annoying because she laughs all the time, after every objection, statement, question, whatever. Maybe she is nervous because she knows she will be on the internet. She already is.
What the DOE is doing is they are creating an effect of Dawson's Facebook comments more than 15 months after they were made, so they can "help" Josh Javits make a determination that Dawson should be punished, probably with termination, because she has had such a detrimental effect on her former students. But how can Dawson address the fact that before the 3020-a hearing began, there was no effect of her actions because no one believed what she was saying on Facebook.
Me and NYSUT Attorney Chris Callagy
When NYSUT Attorney Chris Callagy asked Stanzione when he met with the student and why he met with him so many months after the Facebook comments were made, he testified that "legal" told him to. This is exactly the same testimony that was given in Christine Rubino's case.
Christine Rubino

 The Principal was given Christine's Facebook comments in June 2010, but only removed her in November because "legal" told her to remove her. Lisa Esposito, Christine's Principal, also testified that she thought Christine was a terrific teacher, and she did not want termination as a penalty, but "legal" told her she had to go for termination, she had no choice.
Theresa Europe
In Christine's case there were no students who were affected by Christine's comments, and Randi Lowitt, the arbitrator, went with termination because "legal" attended on a daily basis - Theresa Europe.
Christine then won her appeal in the New York State Supreme Court and her case is now remanded back to Randi for a lesser penalty than termination because, wrote Judge Barbara Jaffe, Christine had a stellar 15-year teaching career that Lowitt did not consider.
As we read the pages of the major media, let's keep in mind the agenda that they, the media, want you to read into what the reporters write, and not judge someone whose story appears there.