A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Betsy Combier and Chris Callagy (picture taken by David Pakter)
We all got to know each other very well. I have been documenting the teacher trials ever since, for my book. The purpose of my writing on my blogs, website, and my book is to stop this random, arbitrary and shocking mess of teacher abuse in NYC and America as well as parent and student harassment. Really, what do cockroaches do when the light turns on? They scamper into the nearest dark crack or hole. NYC DOE personnel despise anyone who challenges them on their "right" to harm people by subterfuge and threats of harm. They want the victim to be so scared of future retaliation that they run away, never to be heard from again. You may hear of harassment at 3020-a hearings, by NYSUT Attorneys and the DOE attorneys; and a push for "settlement" which is nothing more than the Respondent/victim declaring he/she is guilty of a crime and will never sue the DOE for finding out. I usually do not support anyone who is innocent of a charge to admit to doing it simply to stop harassment. If you didn't do it, fight to prove your innocence.
I detailed my story about exposing the theft at Booker T. Washington MS 54 at 108th and Columbus Avenue in Manhattan (the post is dated 2004). I was PTA President and on the School Leadership Team (SLT) in 2000-2001, 2001-2002 school years. (I still have two original copies of the "Green Book" of rules for SLT members!) Larry Lynch was principal. I had just entered the public school system in 1996 with my oldest daughter when I was asked to run for PTA President and won the position in May, 1998. I understood that I would be on the new entity called "School Leadership Team", and like most parents elected to a position of leadership, I studied the law, rules, and regulations under which we, the SLT were to perform our duties. One of the most important was to write the CEP, which was a detailed account of the money spent at the school. Almost immediately I realized that the principal of MS 54 at the time, Larry Lynch, would not give us any facts about the special needs kids.
When it came time to submit the CEP and we still had no data for the special needs kids, and several other items, in 2001, Larry told us that we should just hand it in without signing the signature page. I told him that this was not ok, as we did not have the data. I wouldn't sign as PTA President. Then, about a week later at the beginning of March 2001, I got a call from a source within the District 3 office, and this person told me that Larry had submitted the CEP. I went over to the District 3 office and was handed a copy of the CEP he had handed in. He had filled in missing data with numbers that I and the rest of the SLT had never seen, and which I knew not to be true, like the number of students in special education, the number of providers in the building on what days, etc. Also, he stapled to the front the signature page of everyone copied from the previous year, with the date whited out. I copied each page and took the documents home.
The next year Pat Romandetto, DJ Sheppard, and their allies at MS 54 (white parents) voted to remove me as PTA President, and I started my website Parentadvocates.org. My oldest daughter, at Stuyvesant with an IEP, had her IEP ripped up, the AP Jay Biegelson put his name on the attendance sheet as her father so that I would never know what happened, and my daughter was told that her mom could not be found. I was the Editor of the PA Bulletin at Stuyvesant, and in the school every day. All four of my daughters were attacked by the DOE and parent/district personnel/administrators who the DOE "convinces" they must be allies in order to attack whistleblowers. Secrecy is the number 1 priority. But I did not back down, and my daughters did not want me too.
Then another daughter got into Stuyvesant and accepted the offer starting in 2003. I was afraid but I did not want her to be, so I tried to discuss other options, all in vain. She wanted to be there. I remained very active in Stuyvesant, and the Chinese parents came to me with questions about the money donated to the PA in 2005. They had documented a missing amount of more than $380,000.
One of the parents was a relative of Attorney Jimmy Yan, who worked for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (pictured above). We made three appointments to let both Jimmy and Scott know about the documents showing that several hundred thousand dollars were not in the PA bank account, and there could be possible tax fraud. We met with Jimmy. He promised to help us retrieve the money after we showed him the documents, tax forms, PA budget and PA financial forms. I still have his message on my cellphone.
I wrote my article in 2006 on what happened, including the call I received from the two attorneys who were given the job of auditing the Stuyvesant PA books. They called me up and whispered into my telephone, "Betsy, we have to tell you that there is so much money missing from the Stuyvesant PA that we cannot do an audit".
Jimmy called me as well, and told me that he was contacting Superintendent Alexis Penzel, and would get back to me. That was the last time we spoke, and we never heard from Scott Stringer. Needless to say, when I read the article below about how Scott Stringer, who is now the NYC Comptroller, will be holding Mayor Bill De Blasio accountable for his actions, I'm skeptical. Very skeptical. We will see........
Scott Stringer Promises to Hold Mayor de Blasio Accountable
“There's so much that we can do together in the spirit of cooperation, even though my role is to be the watchdog. And I will be the watchdog,” Stringer said. “My role is to audit every city agency.”
Stringer made his comments during the announcement of his transition team at the Talking Transition tenton Canal Street in SoHo. He said he and de Blasio were “excited about going from the steps of City Hall to actually being inside City Hall.”
He said the comptroller and mayor have joint responsibilities in handling and representing the city’s financial interests, even as the comptroller seeks to act as a check on the mayor.
“There is a relationship between [the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget] and the comptroller's office that is very real and serious,” Stringer said. “But you also have a fiduciary responsibility to monitor city agencies [and to] hold City Hall accountable.”
Stringer named a slate of 19 advisers who he said would help him build out his office before he takes over in January. Robert Kasdin, a senior vice president at Columbia University, and Ana Oliviera, the president and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, were announced as Stringer’s transition co-chairs.
Kasdin said he expected the team would help Stringer create a comptroller’s office that was “the nation’s preeminent model for fiscal management.”
These agents of the Department are focused on getting information from the teachers they are told to investigate AFTER the teacher has been found guilty by the Principal/AP of the school. So, their purpose is actually to get information to substantiate the so-called "fact" that indeed, the person has already committed some kind of crime, and investigations are started with the intent to prove it. A great defense at 3020-a hearings is to prove them wrong. I call it "proving you are innocent after an allegation proves you are guilty" routine.