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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Advocacy at 3020-a: Open and Public Hearings

Once again, if you are charged with 3020-a, the charges are often bogus, scripted out by "legal" - Office of General Counsel, ATU, TPU, or by a group I call the "Gotcha Squad". Employees who have tenure have a right to due process which the employer, the NYC Department of Education, does not want you to have.

The way the process works is that the Gotcha Squad sends principals a scripted outline on how to get rid of an employee, let's say it is you. The "charging attorney" gets your personnel file and works on it, adding whatever documents the principal has in his/her "secret" unofficial file about you locked up in his/her office. The documents in this file have never been seen by you and are unsigned. These will be brought to your 3020-a to "prove" your misconduct and/or incompetency. It is up to the Hearing Officer as to whether or not these documents are submitted as evidence. (Even though under the Collective Bargaining Agreement this is a violation).

Secondly, the way a target employee can tell whether or not he/she is being denied his/her rights, is to ask for an open and public hearing. Under the law - 3020-a - an employee has the right to have either a private or open meeting. The papers received by the teacher being brought to 3020-a include Appendix A, and everyone should look at p. 6 (3)(c) Hearing Procedures: "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." This is, indeed, the only rights that employees have over this process.

Appendix A is sent to most employees when he/she is brought to 3020-a, but this may change. Neither the UFT Rep. nor the DOE wants you to have an open hearing, because then they have to be more careful with the lies and perjury that they have designed and created in your case.  I hear all the time from teachers who have never been told they can have an open and public hearing, and cannot have this option after the hearing begins. Despair sets in. This is truly a harmful thing, in my opinion, because if you are being accused of sexual misconduct, dont you want the support of your significant other in the room with you? Or, a best friend, a politician, etc. In my opinion, it works for teachers who are charged with any misconduct to attend a hearing and an Arbitrator can see that the employee has allies and supporters.

The only time, again in my opinion, where a teacher should hide behind the private hearing curtain, is when the person knows he/she is really guilty of something that is very serious. In those cases, the employee generally wants to resign, retire, or make some kind of settlement, and this is proper.

Below is NY State Commissioner's Regulations 82-1.9:
Section 82-1.9. Demand for public hearing.

Unless the employee notifies the hearing officer at least 24 hours before the first day of the hearing that he or she demands a public hearing, the hearing shall be private. The prehearing conference shall be private.
Sec. filed: Sept. 27, 1994 as emergency measure; Dec. 20, 1994 as emergency measure eff. Dec. 20, 1994; Dec. 20, 1994 eff. Jan. 5, 1995.
8 NYCRR 82-1.9, 8 NY ADC 82-1.9
Current through amendments included in the New York State Register, Volume XXXIV, Issue 19, dated May 9, 2012.

The purpose of this post is to say that I think all the effort put into denying you your rights - by telling you you cannot have an open and public hearing, you should never speak to anyone about your charges, etc-  may be wasteful, and the purpose is to have the DOE control your hearing process to your detriment.

You should not let this happen.

Betsy Combier

1 comment:

Beth M. said...

I was glad to find this blog now that there is a supposed new contract only to find that the claim that ATRs will be entitled to due process, won't occur until 2016!