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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The "OMG This is Unconscionable Award" Goes To 3020-a Arbitrator Lisa Brogan For Firing Rigal Baptiste

Teaching "Living Environment" (or "Health" or "Reproduction") is a very dangerous assignment for a male teacher working in a NYC High School. At any moment, a student, male or female can report to the principal that a comment was made which made him/her "uncomfortable", and boom the "investigators" from OEO, OSI, or SCI are called in. In my opinion, the only work these "agents" do is to create a frame-up of the employee who is the current target of the administration.
The "investigation" always takes the following form: the investigator goes to the school after the principal calls in/emails in to intake an "incident". These "investigators" go to the principal's office, where they ask the principal, "what do you want us to prove". The principal tells them who is the target, and gives the previously prepared statements to the visitors, who take these and may or may not interview the kids who had something bad to say about the teacher/employee. No other students/faculty are interviewed. Then the investigators leave. They go back to the main office with their "notes", which are given to another person who writes the decision.

How fair is this?

Rigal Baptiste was put into this Catch-22 position, assigned to teach Living Environment at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn. He couldn't, wouldn't, didn't, see the danger he could be in, and loved his job. He was good at it, too, for 18 years (all "S" ratings).
But kids of all ages are given the power and authority, by the Department of Education, to lie about teachers and get them removed from their positions, for any and all reasons. This type of activity is called "mobbing" and it occurs in almost every case brought to 3020-a: some child/young adult may not like a teacher, goes with a close friend to the principal (who needs to remove the teacher with tenure and high salary), and says "blah blah blah....(the teacher hit me, touched me, made me uncomfortable, looked at me the wrong way, etc.). The principal runs to the computer, files a report with OSI, OEO or SCI, and the ball starts to fall.
Rigal was not fortunate at 3020-a to have a NYSUT attorney, and Lisa Brogan as his Arbitrator. NYSUT just does not defend their clients strongly enough, but I like Antonio Cavallero, the NYSUT attorney in this case, very much as a person. Rigal testified, as all people charged with 3020-a must, but did not bring in any witnesses to testify on his behalf. This was, in my opinion, a mistake, not as horrible as what Maria Elena Gonzalez Lichten did in the case of Eric Fuller, but still just as disastrous in terms of the result.

A lack of a good defense in front of Lisa Brogan may not have helped, because she was, again in my opinion, hired to fire. She had termination on her mind as the penalty the minute Rigal walked in the door. I have many decisions made by her, and one, in particular annoys me very much. She terminated a bilingual guidance counselor, J.R., for not submitting excellent lesson plans when he was asked to do so by the principal, who wanted him removed because he - the principal - felt that the guidance counselor would reveal that Federal Law was not being followed in the cases of kids in his school with IEPs. The principal, Bennett Lieberman, had a memo he had written published by the Daily News. Anyway, Brogan fired the Guidance Counselor for not writing lesson plans despite the fact that the GC testified he never wrote or learned how to write lesson plans, and these were not required in his work.

Brogan had some shocking comments in her decision to terminate Rigal, who had never been brought to 3020-a, and even if he had made some off-color comments, which he apologized for, and asked to be forgiven as there was no intent to harass or abuse any student, should have been given a small penalty as part of the mandate called "progressive discipline". Brogan wrote:
"Her classmate J.D. perceived her discomfort in S.M.'s body language as he observed it in response to Respondent's comments and actions" (p.21)

"He claims he was only asking her to return to her regular seat, but A.Z. credibly asserted that this was not the case, and if that were the case, then surely it would have been much simpler to assert that he wanted her in her usual seat, rather than fail to explain why he wanted her to move." (p. 26).

Brogan also made an outrageous claim after viewing a video of sexual harassment that "...the intent of the actor is not relevant, but rather, it is the impact on the offended person that determines whether certain conduct is sexual harassment, and it instructs that a reasonable person standard is considered in that regard." (decision, p. 46).

The Department, in order to win their case against Rigal, brought in only those students who would support the "sexual harassment" allegation. Brogan wrote in her decision:

"And all the accusing witnesses expressed their discomfort at the hearing, proving that the impact of Respondent's (Rigal's) actions was to cause offense." (p. 47)

That's a very bizarre way to find "proof" of intent, I think.

So, all students and employees who want to get rid of someone you dont like, sign up for those acting classes now, so that you can cry on cue when September rolls around.

Betsy Combier

Teacher's crude comments to students leave him jobless

Brooklyn teacher, Rigal Baptiste, canned from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School after making crude sexual comments to two of his students.

Comments (22)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn Let Baptiste go after making crude comments to two female students.

A Brooklyn teacher was canned for acting creepy and making crude jokes about pregnancy to girls in health class.

Rigal Baptiste, 46, of Queens, was fired from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in April after investigators found he sexually harassed two female students.

The girls told investigators that the tenured teacher sexually harassed them with raunchy remarks between October 2011 and June 2012.

One of the female students claimed Baptiste, who’s been teaching 18-years, quizzed her on reproduction in class - and when she didn’t have the answers, he said, “Don’t worry your husband will show you.”

Another girl told investigators that Baptiste discussed pregnancy with her during his lessons and said, “You’ll be screaming when the little guy comes out.”

Baptiste sued to get his $86,590 job back in May, citing his lengthy service. He claimed, in court papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, that he was targeted by an Education Department “Gotcha Squad.”

An advocate who spoke on Baptiste’s behalf told the News that she didn’t believe the veteran teacher harassed his students.

“It’s a set-up,” said Betsy Combier, a paralegal who runs the education blog NYC Rubber Room Reporter. “In the current environment, anyone can be convicted of anything.”

City lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss Baptiste’s suit.

“A neutral arbitrator weighed the evidence in this case and found that serious incidents of misconduct had occurred,” said Employment Law Division chief Eric Eichenholtz.

BETSY.COMBIER@GMAIL.COMLess than a minute ago
A man cannot teach any class in which words like "human body", "human reproduction" or the like has to 
be mentioned. Rigal did not deserve to be fired, and Arbitrator Lisa Brogan is anything but "neutral." Her 
comments in her decision were completely out of line, the testimony of the students were credible and Rigal 
was not, and the proceeding was a lawless biased mess. I hope the Judge sees through the pre-disposed bias 
of Brogan and makes a rational order to vacate her decision.

Betsy Combier
NYC Rubber Room Reporter

SMSNYC881 hour ago
Yes, unfortunately the Daily News has mislead this story quite a bit. As an FDR alumni back in 06, and 
a former student of his, I am actually quite surprised that it took this long for someone to speak out about 
his behavior. That's right folks, I said back in 2006, so Mr. Ben Chapman, this issue has gone on for quite a 
long time... Crude and sexual comments have no place in a learning environment, especially coming from 
a teacher. Students may think that he's joking, but that is in no way shape or form to communicate with a 
girl, or anyone for that matter. And if there are any parents who are reading this, I'd suggest you pay close 
attention, because I am quite sure that this sort of thing has been reported many times. The schools just let 
it go because it doesn't fulfill their needs.

THINK4YOURSELF11 hours ago
Yet there are literally RAPIST teachers still on the payroll, as they sit in the 'rubber rooms', gainfully 
employed by the DOE. I wonder why some rapist, predator and pervert teachers are kept, while this one
 fired for crude remarks...........

ARETHA11 hours ago
Bloomberg is paying these arbitrators off to make teachers look bad; he has the money
2 replies

HAIRY POTHEAD8 hours ago
Right, he has nothing better to do with his money.
1 reply

DBMERCAZ5 hours ago
I was thinking the same thing: why would this teacher be the victim of a set up?? 
Because he's overpaid? I'm sure there are overpaid teachers with way more salary on the 

GEELOPEZ29513 hours ago
i dont understad why these girls take everything so serious ! its not like the teacher actually touched them ! 
besides when it comes to guys really hitting them or trying to touch them they allow it to happen & dont 
report that to the police !
3 replies

THINK4YOURSELF11 hours ago
My aren't we a bitter dope. Common sense and decency dictate that a teacher would not even take 
the chance of such remarks being misinterpreted. Good riddance.
2 replies

GUNSHOTS32410 hours ago
again i myself was taught by this man he is a great teacher people like you are the ones 
that should be rid of this earth

GUNSHOTS32410 hours ago
on another note he was being paid 86,000 a year they don't just pay any teacher that 
salary so before you make quick judgement find out about the man first........ I personally 
would volunteer to be a character witness on his behalf

ACTUAL FACTS13 hours ago
Another misleading headline. Unfortunately, most people skim the headlines and think they know what's 
going on. I'm surprised that the DN actually printed this story. It shows that firing a tenured teacher is 
actually pretty easy, which goes against the narrative they've been penning all along: that child rapists keep 
their jobs due to union protections and tenure. It's sad that a teacher loses his job because he told a girl giving 
birth will hurt. Unreal.

So where's the raunchy, sexual harassment part? At most this is inappropriate, but not fireable.

GUNSHOTS32414 hours ago
This is complete BULL im sorry i had Mr. Baptiste several times in high school and i was a terrible kid, I 
used to pick on him and make fun of him in class and in turn all he did was laugh and joke back and believe 
it or not he reached me and actually got me to learn and study that was his way of reaching troubled kids. I do 
not believe for one second that he sexually harassed anyone he was probably joking around with students he 
jokes around with everyday and all of a sudden someone felt offended by it. Again he was a great teacher and 
if you'd see my school record for him to reach ME yeah it proves the man goes above and beyond to get through
 to these kids.

SSC15 hours ago
We read all the time about educators that do much worse but still don't get fired. There has to be more to 
this story that is not being reported, otherwise Mr. Baptiste was simply railroaded to meet some quota system

LADYMOM01116 hours ago
Why is a man teaching girls about these things? They should have a female teacher. But I don't think those 
are raunchy remarks exactly.
1 reply

GUNSHOTS32414 hours ago
sorry if ya want a female teaching females put ya daughters in an all girl school, schools are over 
crowded as it is

KITOBEAR17 hours ago
I guess I'm missing the sexual harassment part.
1 reply

HAIRY POTHEAD15 hours ago
You, me and everyone else who didn't charge him with it.