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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Betsy Combier Files A FOIL Request For Francesco Portelos' Charges

We used to support Francesco Portelos. Now we do not. In our opinion, he threatens people who dare to criticize him, and he bullies people into thinking that they - not him - are guilty of bad things.

See here:

Editorial: Is Francesco Portelos a Danger to Tenure Law? by Betsy Combier

Francesco Portelos and His "Victim Complex"

EDITORIAL: Cyberstalker Francesco Portelos and His Blame Game Must Be Stopped

Contact me if you are being charged with 3020-a, have had a bad experience with Francesco Portelos, or have been in a "new" rubber room at

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Posted May 23 2013:
On or about May 21, 2013, teacher Francesco Portelos was served 38 charges at his reassignment location. With these charges was the form above. In the middle is a paragraph about a vote on probable cause. Where did this take place? What if there was no vote?

Sometime in April 2013 the Notice above made its appearance in the packet when charges were served.  And curiously, now there is a statement that there WAS a vote in Executive Session!! Oh, really? I want to know who voted, when, where, what this person's title was, how he/she had the authority to vote, and proof that there was a vote.

While Francesco will challenge the validity of these allegations at a 3020-a arbitration some time in the future, I am right now challenging the right of the New York City Department of Education to serve the charges at all. Below is an excerpt of a Motion To Dismiss submitted in the case of J.J. in September 2012:

"Education Law requires a vote by the school board precede a determination of “probable cause” upon which to bring charges against teachers removed from their schools. (Education Law §3020-a(2)(a), Article 61)). This provides all pedagogues protection from vindictive Principals who may want to remove senior teachers from their positions because they make salaries that could pay for two teachers instead of one. The requirements of NYS Education Law §3020-a, under which tenured personnel may be disciplined for “Just Cause” are absolute and require that before charges can be brought against a tenured educator, the School Board must:

a. Determine that there is “probable cause” for the proceeding with charges by a majority vote by the Board.

b. Make this determination within 5 days of the charges being filed with the Board.

c. Ensure that the decision to proceed with the charges is not frivolous, arbitrary, capricious or discriminatory.

Without a school board to perform these functions – and, the New York City Panel For Educational Policy (“PEP”) never has taken on this function – there is no oversight by anyone other than the tenured teacher’s Principal to initiate the disciplinary process and Local Superintendent to endorse the Principal’s request to prefer file charges against any educator a Principal chooses to remove from the school the Principal administers.
The lack of independent review and lack of oversight by anyone other than the tenured teacher’s Principal to initiate discipline is not consistent with Education Law §3020-a. This constitutes a de facto denial of equal protection of the §3020-a law. Arbitrators who sit on the panel to hear 3020-a charges are not permitted by law, collective bargaining agreement, or any other contractual arrangement to make a decision on charges unless they have been voted on by the New York City Board of Education before a tenured teacher is given these charges, pursuant to Education Law §§ 2590-j, 3020, and 3020-a. The relevant parts are as follows:

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.”

Section 3020a(2)(a) of The NY Education Law states:

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.”

Before a tenured teacher can be brought up on disciplinary charges, the Education Law lays out a number of procedural hurdles that a Board of Education must comply with. These procedural hurdles are in place to protect the rights of the tenured teacher to fair process, and constitute jurisdictional pre-requisites to a §3020-a disciplinary hearing. Chief among these procedural hurdles is the requirement that probable cause to prefer charges must be voted on by the Board of Education (see, e.g., Education Law §3020-a(2)(a))."

Now if an arbitrator rules that indeed the Section 3020-a (2)(a) statute does not apply to New York City as the UFT bargained away the law, then they can proceed as if the argument had no basis, and they get paid their $1400/day in spite of the law. That's the nice and comfy way to do away with the due process rights of tenured teachers brought to 3020-a hearings. If an arbitrator agrees that there was an improper determination of probable cause, the hearing cannot go forward, and the arbitrator does not get paid.

As we all know, New York City does not have a Board of Education.

Here is my FOIL request:

                                                                   May 23, 2013
Mr. Joseph A. Baranello
Central Records Access Officer
Office of the General Counsel
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mr. Baranello:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, I requested copies of the following items:

1) All documents, notes, memos, emails, or recordings made when a vote was taken during an Executive Session on probable cause for the 38 charges served on Respondent Francesco Portelos on or about May 17, 2013; see the Notice which is attached to this request.

2) The name, title, contact information for any person who attended the Executive Session.

3) The name, title, contact information, date, time, place, and name of the school board and proof of voting on the charges of misconduct served on Francesco Portelos by any and all parties;

If the records have been removed from their original locations, please cause a diligent search to be conducted of all appropriate file rooms and storage facilities.

If any record has been redacted, please identify which categories of information have been redacted, and cite the relevant statutory exemption(s).

If you have any questions relating to the specific record(s) or portion(s) being sought, please phone me at 212-794-8902 so that we may discuss them.


As you know, the Freedom of Information Law requires that an agency respond to a request within five business days of receipt of a request.  Therefore, I would appreciate a response as soon as possible and look forward to hearing from you shortly.  If for any reason any portion of my request is denied, please inform me of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed.


                                                                   Betsy Combier

Gotta Love The NY POST: Mike Bloomberg Caught Spitting And Cursing At Taxi Club Management CEO Gene Freidman

Mike unleashes a ‘hail’ storm


Last Updated: 12:40 PM, May 22, 2013
CABOTAGE: Cab king Gene Freidman says Mayor Bloomberg (above) threatened him in a curse-filled rant over losing a court fight on new city taxis.
Gene Freidman
Mayor Bloomberg went on a spitting-mad rant against a city cab-fleet boss who won a court victory over Hizzoner’s planned “Taxi of Tomorrow” — vowing to “destroy your f--king industry” when he leaves office, The Post has learned.
A fuming Bloomberg made the threat against Taxi Club Management CEO Gene Freidman at Madison Square Garden’s private 1879 Club during last Thursday’s Knick playoff game, a witness said yesterday.
“It was like Gene had kidnapped his child. He used the f-word twice,” the witness said.
Freidman confirmed the blow-up to The Post, and said Bloomberg’s tirade included the warning that, “After January, I am going to destroy all you f--king guys.”
That’s bad news for Bloomberg’s political enemies, who could all become targets once the revenge-minded billionaire has nothing but time on his hands.
Freidman approached Bloomberg at the exclusive club a day after a judge ruled that the mayor’s plan to replace the city’s taxi fleet with the Taxi of Tomorrow violated a city code requiring a hybrid-cab option for garage owners.
“I saw Bloomberg and his security there in the club, so I went over and said, ‘Tell me what is going on with the Taxi of Tomorrow?’ ” Freidman, 42, said yesterday.
“He turns to me, and said, ‘Come January 1st, when I am out of office, I am going to destroy your f--king industry.’
“I said, ‘Whoa, Mr. Mayor, calm down! Why can’t I sit down with you and figure out something that works?’ He got back in my face and said, ‘After January, I am going to destroy all you f--king guys,’ ” said Freidman, whose company operates a fleet of 925 yellow cabs.
Freidman said a red-faced Bloomberg’s jaw was clenched.
“He was very angry, very scary, very violent in a non-physical way. He was grinding his teeth, he was spitting, he was red and he was in my face,” the self-styled “King of the Road” claimed.
“The mayor was extremely disrespectful, and not ‘mayorly’ at all. He cursed at me, and when we walked away, I asked a friend who was with me, ‘Did the mayor just threaten me?’
“My friend responded, ‘No, he threatened you twice.’ ”
Bloomberg this morning said he doesn’t recall unleashing that profanity-laced tirade -- or virtually any other details from that night.
“The only thing I remember from that night was the [basketball] court. It was the court in the middle of Madison Square Garden and the Knicks won,” the suddenly memory-challenged mayor said.
“It was a great game … that’s all I remember from that night.”
The witness said Bloomberg was just being a sore loser over state Supreme Court Justice Peter H. Moulton’s ruling.
The Taxi of Tomorrow is a Bloomberg pet project that would have replaced nearly the entire of fleet of yellow cabs with a more spacious model that Nissan won the right to design in an open competition.
The taxi industry, led by Freidman, challenged the overhaul — and Bloomberg seeing his foe at MSG set him off, the witness said.
“Bloomberg thinks that everyone should just follow his decisions,” he said.
Freidman said he tried to placate the mayor by reminding him of a meeting in 2006 when Bloomberg praised him for introducing hybrid fuel and wheelchair-accessible taxis.
But nothing would calm Bloomberg — who at one point looked about for security to toss Freidman from the club.
“This was my club that Bloomberg was a guest in, that I had paid to get in, and he wasn’t getting me kicked out of my own place,” said Freidman.
His lawyers have asked MSG to preserve any surveillance video that may have captured the exchange.
Freidman wondered how the mayor planned to “destroy” his industry.
“I don’t know how he’ll destroy me, whether he’ll start a black-car service that will take people for free,” he said. “Perhaps he’ll put $10 million of his own money to lobby against the taxi industry — that is pretty powerful.”
Additional reporting by Sally Goldenberg

Chicago's Ed Deform Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel Closes the Largest Number of Schools In U.S. History

Hola Chicagoans!! Our partner in the education deform by Mayoral Control is experiencing the largest closure of public schools in US history. New York was supposed to be in the same position, but somehow we scraped through.

Let's keep scraping while we keep hollering NO. Get rid of the Panel For Educational Policy and the Community Educational Councils and bring back the public vote by all of the public, not "selectors".

Betsy Combier

Karen Lewis reacts to Chicago school board’s decision:
Karen Lewis Reaction to Chicago Board of Education’s Vote to Close the Largest Number of Schools in an Urban School District in U.S. History
CHICAGO – Today, Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis released the following statement on the largest school closings in U.S. history:
“Today is a day of mourning for the children of Chicago. Their education has been hijacked by an unrepresentative, unelected corporate school board, acting at the behest of a mayor who has no vision for improving the education of our children. Closing schools is not an education plan. It is a scorched earth policy. Evidence shows that the underutilization crisis has been manufactured. Their own evidence also shows the school district will not garner any significant savings from closing these schools.
“This is bad governance. CPS has consistently undermined school communities and sabotaged teachers and parents. Their actions have had a horrible domino effect. More than 40,000 students will lose at least three to six months of learning because of the Board’s actions. Because many of them will now have to travel into new neighborhoods to continue their schooling, some will be victims of bullying, physical assault and other forms of violence. Board members are wishing for a world that does not exist and have ignored the reality of the world we live in today. Who on the Board will be held responsible? Who at City Hall will be held responsible?
“Members of the Board of Education, the school CEO, the mayor and their corporate backers are on the wrong side of history. History will judge them for the tragedy they have inflicted upon our students; and it will not be kind.
“Our fight for education justice has now moved to the courts, but it must eventually move to the ballot box. The parents are amazing leaders in their school communities and because of this administration’s actions we have all become closer and more united. We must resist this neoliberal savagery masquerading as school reform. We must resist racism in all of its forms as well as the escalating attacks on the working –class and the poor. Our movement will continue.”

In Chicago, Rahm’s Reform Vision in Deep Dish

Edushyster, Posted on 

The final “vote” on which Chicago Public Schools to shutter may be a done deal, but the implications of the largest single school closure in US history will be felt well beyond the Windy City. Mayor Emanuel, who has long tethered his political fortunes to hedge-funded education reform, now has poll numbers hovering near the bottom of Lake Michigan. Meanwhile, the Chicago media has suddenly awakened and is practicing, once again, the long-lost art of journalism. And Chicago charter school fever is beginning to look an awful lot like old-fashioned Illinois-style “pay to play” corruption. In other words, on this bad news bears day, my outlook is decidedly wine-box-half-full…
The white course
Let’s start with Mayor Emanuel’s poll numbers. Did I say they were in Lake Michigan? I meant living on Lake Shore drive in a million dollar plus unit with great lake views. A recent pollfound that the only voters left who unabashedly approve of the mayor’s education reform agenda are wealthy whites who live in the city’s lakefront wards. Six in ten Chicagoans oppose Rahm’s school closure plan, while a full 75% say they don’t like his vision for education in the city. Of voters with children who attend the Chicago Public Schools, just 9% said they side with the mayor in the debate over how to improve the schools. Fifty-four percent said they now side with the Chicago Teachers Union.
Welcome back, journalists. We’ve missed you!
The past few weeks have seen the kind of reporting that’s all too rare in today’s Walton-funded era of achievement gaptivism. Check out, for example, this “fact check” prepared by a local public radio station in which reporters examine the justifications being given for the mass school closings—and debunk virtually all of them. Even the Chicago Tribune, which just weeks ago ran an editorial trumpeting the results of a pro-charter push poll, got in on the action. The Trib dug deep into official documents to dispute many of the claims being made by Mayor Emanuel et al and revealed once again just how dependent hedge-funded “reform” is on a lax and fawning press.
Pay for play
Meanwhile reporters at the Chicago Sun Times have been busy digging up the dirt on the state’s largest charter school operator: UNO Charter Schools. It turns out that Illinois’new favorite past-time, *crushing* the achievement gap by constructing shiny academies of excellence and innovation, looks an awful lot like the state’s old favorite past-time: cash-fueled corruption.
Race to the top
The disproportionate impact of school closings on minority students has already resulted in multiple law suits. But could it finally prompt a conversation on the great white elephant in the room: the overwhelming whiteousness of the education reform movement vs: the communities that reformers are intent on improving? Based on this intriguing tweet from Teach for America CEO Matt Kramer, I’d say the chances are good.
We are so over
In case you missed it, opposition to the school closings in Chicago even precipitated an education reform break up. I’m talking, of course, about the recent decision by the University of Chicago chapter of Students for Education Reform to divorce their national organization. In this Dear John letter, the Chicago students hint at their discomfort with being the fresh Chicago faces of SFER’s national agenda. As for what that agenda is, I will say only that SFER is likely the only grassroots student group in the country to be funded by the Walton Foundation.
Even Republicans are pissed
And now a gratuitous shout out to my favorite Windy City blog: Chicago Public Fools.This Chicago Public Schools mom is representative of the astonishing diversity of voices that are now questioning the city’s education reform mantra. In this post, Red in a Blue City, she fillets would-be school privatizers like lake trout.
Karen Lewis rocks
Even though I am *technically* married, I have been crushing on Karen Lewis since the first time she used the expression “full-tilt bozo,” the precise definition of which I still don’t know. In case you missed it, she was overwhelmingly re-elected by the members of the Chicago Teachers Union last week and pledged to spend her next term making education equal in all of the city’s neighborhoods. Now there’s a thought…
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