Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Frivolous Case of NYC Parent Mona Davids v Tenure.

Its not hard to imagine a charter school parent being convinced of teacher misconduct by money-minds who need a parent component to their attack on teacher tenure. Mona Davids is a relative newcomer to the educational-financial-fraud-complex or whatever you want to call it, and could easily be seen as their newest chess piece on the board. She is ridiculous.

She obviously has not done any research at all into what a "bad" teacher is, so would somebody please ask her to describe such a person when she gets into a TV or radio show, her total and absolute focus. Her newest lawsuit is frivolous. Please, Judge, dismiss it.

USLegal definition of a "frivolous lawsuit":

Frivolous lawsuits are those filed by a party or attorney who is aware they are without merit, because of a lack of supporting legal argument or factual basis for the claims. Frivolous lawsuits waste time, money, and judicial resources, and fines and/or santions may be imposed upon a party or their attorney for filing such a claim.
Frivolous lawsuits may be filed for purposes of harassment or coercion, such as to coerce the defendant into paying more or accepting less money than is rightfully due. They may be filed due to lack of due diligence by an attorney in investigating a client's claim, or other reasons. Generally, the defendant must win the lawsuit before seeking a remedy for the frivolous claim

Read Diana Ravitch's excellent blog post "Diane Ravitch: Teachers Sued In The Vergara Trial Were Not "Grossly Ineffective"

Ever since Mona called me up to whine about how did I trademark and buy the domain "" (which I bought and trademarked in 2002) , she and I have not spoken. She wanted to use it. She cant. I would not join her Parent Union, and I had 4 children in the public school system.

Her allegiance and collaboration with the UFT I guess is tarnished, but I still have a nagging question. Exactly who is a "bad" teacher? Have your children experienced "bad" teachers without tenure in their charter and/or public school? Be specific. And please prove to me that without tenure these "bad" teachers would not be not teaching your children.

Thank you.

Betsy Combier

The VergarGuments are Coming to New York State!

Posted on July 4, 2014

1 Votes

And so it goes… The VergarGuments keep-a-comin… spreading their way from California to the Empire State, from Albany to Buffalo. And what are VergarGuments you say?
Well, a VergarGument is a fallacious form of legal reasoning applied in the context of state constitutional litigation over causes of inequities and inadequacies of schooling selectively suffered by disadvantaged children. Yeah… that’s a mouthful, but it is worthy of its own newly minted, excessively precise definition.
The VerGargument arises from the recent Vergara case in California where a sufficiently gullible (or politically predisposed – you be the judge) judge accepted whole hog, the assertion that state laws governing the assignment and dismissal of teachers under district contractual agreements caused that state’s most disadvantaged children to be disproportionately subjected to “grossly ineffective” teachers.
You see, “causation” is a pretty important part of such legal challenges. And here, the burden on those bringing the case against the statutes in question was to show (reasonably/sufficiently display a connection… not “prove” beyond any reasonable doubt… and also not quite the same as statistical causation) that those statutes are responsible for the selective mistreatment of those bringing the case to court (deprivation of their state constitutionally guaranteed rights) . As I explained in my previous post, the causation assertion is suspect on simple logical grounds, with little need to get into the weeds of the statistical analyses.
The assertion that state policy restrictions on local contractual agreements is a primary (or even a significant) cause of teaching inequity is problematic at many levels.
First, variation in access to teacher quality across schools within districts varies… across districts. Some districts (in California or elsewhere) achieve reasonably equitable distributions of teachers while others do not. If state laws were the cause, these effects would be more uniform across districts – since they all have to deal with the same state statutory constraints (perhaps those district leaders testifying at trial in Vergara and bemoaning the inequities within their own districts were, in fact, revealing their own incompetence, rather than the supposed shackles of state laws?).
Second, teacher quality measures and attributes tend to vary far more across than within districts, making it really hard to assert that district contractual constraints (which constrain within, not cross-district sorting) imposed by state law have any connection to the largest share of teacher quality inequity.
But hey, let’s take a closer look at the evidence that already exists on these and related points in New York State, home to the newest rounds of VergarGuments, where a group calling itself the NYC Parents Union has filed suit claiming that New York State’s tenure laws cause poor minority children to be deprived of a Sound Basic Education (constitutional requirement upheld in previous litigation over funding disparities that have yet to be resolved).
We know from a long line of research, much of which can be found here, that teacher quality & qualification distributions vary in roughly equal parts across New York State school districts as they do within the largest district(s) across schools. Specifically, in one of the first major published studies of the new era of teacher quality research, Lankford, Loeb and Wyckoff (2002)[1] found:
  • Teachers are systematically sorted across schools and districts such that some schools employ substantially more qualified teachers than others do.
  • Differences in the qualifications of teachers in New York State occurs primarily between schools within districts and between districts within regions, not across regions.
  • The exception to the result that there is little difference in average teacher characteristics across regions is for the New York City region, which on average employs substantially less qualified teachers.
  • Nonwhite, poor, and low performing students, particularly those in urban areas, attend schools with less qualified teachers.
Again, to support the idea that state restrictions on local contracts are the primary, or even a significant cause of teacher quality disparity to the point of deprivation of the constitutional right to sound basic education, one would expect to find that within districts, under a common contract and tenure protections, children in high need schools suffer disproportionately, and that districts have limited if any control (due to state law constraints) over that disproportionate suffering.
A second bit of empirical evidence that severely undermines the claim that state legal restrictions are prohibitive of districts improving the distribution of teaching quality is the finding of a few years later, by an overlapping group of researchers, that New York City had taken steps to substantially mitigate differences in teacher qualifications across schools, in part with the help of additional state policy restrictions.[2]
The gap between the qualifications of New York City teachers in high-poverty schools and low-poverty schools has narrowed substantially since 2000. For example, in 2000, teachers in the highest-poverty decile of schools had math SAT scores that on average were 43 points lower than their counterparts in the lowest-poverty decile of schools. By 2005 this gap had narrowed to 23 points. The same general pattern held for other teacher qualifications such as the failure rate on the Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAST) teacher certification exam, the percentage of teachers who attended a “least competitive” undergraduate college, and verbal SAT scores. Most of the gap-narrowing resulted from changes in the characteristics of newly hired teachers, rather than from differences in quit and transfer rates between high and low-poverty schools.
That last part is critical here, since the central VergarGument for why state imposed legal protections harm low income and minority children is that they force districts to retain and place the worst teachers with the neediest students. Recruitment and retention are completely overlooked in the VergarGument which instead places the entire emphasis on dismissal, and legal restrictions on dismissal.
But there’s another piece to this puzzle as well, also documented in research done on New York State. And that is, that variations in compensation matter – and may determine whether a district even has the capacity to retain the teachers it would need, to, say, provide a sound basic education to low income and minority children. Ondrich, Pas and Yinger (2008) explain:
We find that teachers in districts with higher salaries relative to nonteaching salaries in the same county are less likely to leave teaching and that a teacher is less likely to change districts when he or she teaches in a district near the top of the teacher salary distribution in that county.[3]
VergarGuments are an absurd smokescreen, failing to pass muster at even the most basic level of logical evaluation of causation – that A (state laws in question) can somehow logically (no less statistically) be associated with selective deprivation of children’s constitutional rights.
Are children in New York State being deprived of their right to a sound basic education.
Are VergarGuments the most logical path toward righting those wrongs? Uh… no.
"I am tired of hearing folks say parental choice but not telling parents that you give up your parental and civil rights and your mouth is duct taped when you enter most charters by the folks like Walton who hijacked it."   - Mona Davids, President NY Charter Parents Association

While many of us consider Mona Davids a strong ally in the struggle against the ed deformers she deserted less than a year ago, many of us oppose the political use of "parent choice" in the push for charters because we understand the end game is the takedown of the public school system with the result that there will ultimately be no choice - sort of like the "choice" you have between Republicans and Democrats. One day we wil convince Mona that we can fight for real choice and variety of programs within the public schools as Lisa Donlan has often pointed out she helped put into effect on the old District 1 (lower east side) school board.

But here, her nuanced response to outgoing State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who hopes to fuel his career with charter school supporterd funding, is worth noting. Benjamin's performance at the Bill Perkins charter school hearings last March was fairly obnoxious, especially when he questionned Mulgrew who stood up to him fairly well. I have some tape of that which if I ever get time I will dig out.
Dear Ms. Davids -

I'm on the Host Committee for BAEO's Symposium 2011. I am helping to raise $50K so we can have the best possible Parental Choice Symposium in the NY/NJ Metro area. The symposium will be held March 3-5, 2011 in Jersey City, NJ. (See details below.) A number of charter schools from the 79 AD have been invited to participate. I hope you will assist me in making sure NY parents learn about education reform and how it enhances parental choice. Please consider responding to the appeal below and support BAEO's 2011 Symposium.

Michael Benjamin
Member of Assembly (thru 12/31)
Mona replies
Huh?? I think Mr. Benjamin must have forgotten when he refused to let me speak on his panel at his charter education workshop last February. Heard it was a blast with CPE unexpectedly rocking up for that workshop.

Never heard of this org but see they received Walton funding.

So, they just target black families for charters. Hmmm.

Since I'm persona non grata in charterland for not knowing my place, having the audacity to expect accountability and transparency, parent rights, independent pa/pta's, student rights, qualified and certified teachers, compliance with iep's and IDEA etc.---- all those things black parents should not expect, this may be of interest to others...

I'm all for school choice, I help parents who want to go to charters and those being pushed out but want to stay anyway. I don't want anyone telling me where I can or cannot send my child.

However, I am tired of hearing folks say parental choice but not telling parents that you give up your parental and civil rights and your mouth is duct taped when you enter most charters by the folks like Walton who hijacked it.

Like working for Walmart, you have no rights once you accept the job...guess it's better to start training those black children now while in school so that by the time they're adults, they'll know their place and be great Walmart workers.

Hey BAEO, what about doing a workshop on sped rights or parent rights in charters? Even better, a workshop on charter law and parental rights in a non-profit education corporation.

It's time for parents to make educated choices on education, be transparent and explain what a non-profit education corporation is.

Mona Davids
From Betsy Combier:

Despite the fact that Norm Scott and his sidekick Jeff Kaufman hate and despise me, Norm's post about Mona Davids is too good not to re-post from his blog Ednotes Online:

Dissecting Moaning Mona Davids

Moaning Mona Davids has switched sides more times than a tennis ball.... and burned more bridges than the retreating German army..... Ed Notes

Local 372 President Santos Crespo Jr. fired [Mona] Davids in December, then sued her in January, claiming she failed to turn over passwords to databases containing confidential information about the union’s members and its contacts.... NY Post, Feb. 10, 2014

Just 3 years ago Mona Davids supported and took part in a film that took a strong pro-tenure stand for teachers. She even paid for and set up the web site for that film but destroyed the site when she decided to switch sides (once again) in an attempt to cover her tracks.... Ed Notes

Mona Davids is a virus... Anonymous teacher

The news that self-serving Moaning Mona Davids, hoping  to get a piece of the hedge fund ed deform anti-tenure action, has filed a Vergara copycat suit over teacher tenure, has spurred me to dredge up this blog post that's been lurking in draft mode for many months. I hadn't bothered  because the idea that anyone actually takes Moaning Mona Davids seriously causes me constant amusement as to just how naive so many people are. Her press release regarding the suit is laugh out loud reading.

I'd like to see if this law suit has any real financial backing. Mona may just be trolling, knowing full well there will be a well-financed suit coming. Her hope is to get her pitiful attempt combined with others. If you had a choice between Moaning Mona Davids and Crappy Campbell Brown, both desperate to use the teacher bashing issue in an attempt to remain relevant, who would you choose? Hmmmmm.  Let's see if there are any ed deform funders out there will to take a chance on venturing forth into a Moaning Mona minefield loaded with IEDs. Today's NY Times piece indicates that this is a trolling law suit looking for publicity. 

Education reform groups, some of them supported by Wall Street philanthropists, are expected to support a wave of Vergara-inspired suits. Ms. Davids contended that her suit was different because it was not being bankrolled by outside interests.

However, Ms. Davids said she expected that if multiple cases were to be filed, they would eventually be lumped together by the courts.

Sure, not bankrolled by outside interests because they are too smart to get involved in Moaning Mona's shenanigans. Her main hope is to have hers combined with the heavy hitters and pick up a few crumbs on the way.

About a year ago I also laughed myself silly when I heard DC 37 Local 372 had stepped in it by hiring Mona Davids, who we nicknamed "Moaning Mona" after she made anti-teacher racially tinged comments at various meetings in 2009 - before seemingly switching sides. But more on all that in future posts.

Self-serving Moaning Mona Davids as Local 372 Political Director -- to help stop Anthony Weiner's mayoralty campaign? Really, Comedy Central material.

I was tempted to post some of my Mona files at the time, but, knowing there would be some delicious stuff to come - that Mona would find a way to alienate everyone, I decided to sit back and watch things play out. And so they did. I don't want to call Local 372 leader Santos Crespo dumb for even letting Mona anywhere near the union's confidential information. But.... anyone who shares a password with Moaning Mona should be examined by a doctor.

“Davids exhibited an attitude of spite, anger and refusal to follow directions,” Crespo said in a court affidavit. In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Crespo also suggested Davids engaged in “commercial piracy” by refusing to hand over passwords linking to the union’s proprietary databases.... NY Post

I'm shocked, just shocked that the always self-serving Moaning Mona Davids would engage in such activities. Concerns about parents and children are in the back of her plate. In fact, not even on the plate.

The entire NY Post article below the break.

Oh, if anyone has time on their hands, go check the financials of the NYC Parents Union --

And a blast from the past featuring Moaning Mona:

... Oct 23, 2009 -

I'm posting a letter from a teacher at the Patrick Daly School (PS 15) in Red Hook, Brooklyn to "MoaningMona Davids, self-proclaimed ...

February 10, 2014 | 1:44am


A campaign to prevent Anthony Weiner from becoming mayor last year has ignited an ugly legal war within the union that represents parent coordinators and other school employees — with accusations flying about piracy, theft of wages and illegal electioneering.

Local 372, representing 25,000 Department of Education workers, hired parent activist Mona Davids as its political director last year to launch an anti-Weiner campaign after the sexty pol vowed to eliminate the jobs of 1,300 parent coordinators the union represents.

But after Weiner flamed out, Local 372 President Santos Crespo Jr. fired Davids in December, then sued her in January, claiming she failed to turn over passwords to databases containing confidential information about the union’s members and its contacts.

“Davids exhibited an attitude of spite, anger and refusal to follow directions,” Crespo said in a court affidavit.
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Crespo also suggested Davids engaged in “commercial piracy” by refusing to hand over passwords linking to the union’s proprietary databases.
Davids, a single mom from The Bronx, filed a countersuit, claiming Local 372 violated state law by refusing to pay her $7,332.94 in back pay. She is now seeking $164,665.88 in back wages plus legal fees.


Posted by Norm @ ed notes online at 5:10 PM 

FILED : NEW  YORK     COUNTY CLERK    01/15/ 2 0141


INDEX NO. 650129/2014 RECEIVED NYSCEF: 01/15/2014





  MONA DAVIDS, Defendant.

 SANTOS CRESPO, JR., being duly sworn, deposes and says:

  1. I am the President of Local 372, NYC Board of Education Employees, AFSCME, the Plaintiff in the above reference action. This affidavit is based on my own personal knowledge, conversations with other Local 372 employees, and a review of Local 372's records including, but not limited to, a forensic analysis of electronic communications.


 2. Formed in 1941, Local 372 represents nearly 25,000 Department of Education employees who provide essential support services to the 1.1 million children - and their families -in New York City public schools. Local 372 members are critical in making the school system properly function.

3. Local 372 members, who are sometimes referred to as "non-pedagogical" employees because they are non-teaching staff, work in the cafeterias handling food and watching/helping children, in the hallways and schoolyards monitoring children to ensure their safety, in classrooms providing anti-violence/gang and drug prevention counseling, in homeless shelters to ensure that parents send their children to school despite living in a shelter, in Department of Education warehouses dealing with non­ perishable goods, on trucks bringing supplies to the schools, and in the streets as crossing guards to make sure kids get to school safely.

4. Local 372 has longstanding and established relationships with its members, patrons, and other individuals in the Federal, State and local government, and it regularly solicits and establishes business relationships with new members and key contacts. These highly-valuable business relationships are obtained and developed at Local 372's considerable time, effort, and expense, and through the use of Local 372's confidential and proprietary information and business methods.

5. Local 372 has spent a substantial amount of money, time, and effort to develop and maintain its database of members, patrons and key contacts. This information has taken years to develop and provides Local 372 a substantial advantage over its competitors and those with competing interests.

6. Local 372 has also spent a great deal of time, money and effort on improving member satisfaction through innovative solutions to its members' service needs.

7. Local 372 has also expended a great deal of money, time and effort to develop and maintain relationships with the members who use its services.

8. Local 372 has collected detailed, confidential information about each of its members, patrons and key contacts that is not readily available to the public, including the members' specific needs, preferences, concerns, and other specialized information that is valuable and necessary for effectively servicing its members.

9. Local 372 bas spent countless hours developing and training its workforce concerning its methodologies and systems.

10. Due to the size of Local's membership and quality of its manpower and services, Local 372 is able to attract qualified applicants for its employment opportunities, all of whom, when hired, receive additional benefits such as direct contact with key managerial and other outside contacts, ready access to influential people and top-of­ the-line supplies and equipment.

11. As Political Action Coordinator, Davids oversaw Local's entire Political Action Committee, including supervising staff and acting as a liaison between Local 372, politicians and other unions.

12. The information used to create these solutions and the internal manner in which services are delivered to Local 372's members are proprietary and confidential because they give Local 372 an advantage over its competitors and competing interests in a service-oriented industry.

13. The propriety methods that allow Local 372 to provide superior service to its members are what distinguishes Local 372 from its competitors and competing interests.

14. Local 372 has also invested a considerable amount of time, money and effort researching and developing models for its products and particular members' (or potential members') needs.

15.The information Local 372 has obtained through these efforts is confidential because it is not readily available to competitors and competing interests and can only be ascertained through long-term trial and error, and it has been instrumental inallowing Local 372 to continue to be a highly influential player in New York City.

 16. Because the confidential information concerning Local 372's members, patrons and key contacts constitutes the life-blood of Local 372's work, Local 372 takes measures to ensure that the confidentiality of this information is maintained and that it is not disseminated outside the organization.

17. Among other things, Local 372
(a) restricts access to its member information within the organization;
(b) stores computerized member information in a secure database;

  (c) requires key personnel to sign non-competition and non-disclosure agreements in which they agree not to wrongfully use or disclose Local 372's confidential information during employment and after the termination of their employment; and

(d) restricts access to its service, and employee development to an extremely limited and restricted list of employees.

18.Certain key employees, like Davids, receive a generous annual salary, an additional expense account, bonus eligibility, health insurance, eye and dental insurance, and other benefits, all in consideration for complying with the non-competition and confidentiality covenants.


  19. Davids began employment with Local 372 on or about June 10, 2013.

 20. Over the tenure of her employment, Davids held the title of Political Action Coordinator and gained extensive knowledge of virtually every aspect of Local 372's business, including its confidential and proprietary information.

21. At the commencement of her employment, Davids voluntarily signed for receipt of the Local 372 Employee Policy and Procedure (the "Agreement"). Copies of relevant sections are attached as Exhibit "A" and the signed acknowledgement is attached as Exhibit "B".

22. Davids acknowledged in the Agreement that she was being provided access to valuable confidential and proprietary information and that if she violated her obligations, Local 372 would take legal action.

23. Specifically, the Agreement states that:

  a. Your employment with Local 372 assumes an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of information identified as confidential, even after you leave our employ.

  b. Ifyou are questioned by someone outside Local 372 or your department and you are concerned about the appropriateness of giving them certain information, you are not required to answer. Instead, as politely as possible, refer the request to your supervisor.

  c. No one is permitted to remove or make copies of any Local 372 records, reports or documents without prior approval.

  d. Disclosure of confidential information could lead to termination, as well as other possible legal action.

  See Exhibit A, at p. 14.

24. In the Agreement, Davids also agreed, among other things, to several critical covenants and understandings concerning Local 372's e-mail communications as follows:

a. Local 372 maintains computers and an electronic mail ("e-mail") and voice mail system to facilitate communication by and/or among certain employees and is to be used for business purposes only;

 b. E-mail and voicemail communications and the contents of an employee's computer are the sole property of Local 372;

c. An employee has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the e-mail and voicemail messages and information transmitted, received and stored on and/or through Local 372's computer system;

 d. Local 372 may override individual passwords and codes, and require employees to disclose all passwords and codes to Local 372 to facilitate such access. E-mail and voicemail monitoring may be conducted by authorized Local 372 employees and information disclosed on a need-to-know basis for any lawful purpose including, but not limited to, the reasonable investigation of possible employee misconduct; and

  e. By using the e-mail and voicemail systems and other equipment including Local 372's computers, each employee knowingly and voluntarily consents to being monitored and acknowledges Local 372's right to conduct such monitoring.

  See Exhibit at p. 8.

 25. In addition, Davids was warned that "operating a business, usurpmg business opportunities or soliciting money for personal gain" was "strictly prohibited." See Exhibit A, at p. 9.

26. In terms of the use of the Internet, Davids was instructed that:

  a Monitoring an employee's use of the Internet may be conducted by authorized Local 372 employees and information disclosed on a need-to-know basis for any lawful purpose including, but not limited to, the reasonable investigation of possible employee misconduct; and

  b. By using Local 372's equipment, each employee knowingly and voluntarily consents to being monitored and acknowledges Local 372's right to conduct such monitoring.

  See Exhibit A, at pp. 9-10.

  27. Davids received substantial consideration for the promises in the Agreement in compensation and other benefits; her salary was $85,000 per year and she also had medical, eye, and dental benefits, as well as access to other benefits that Local 372 members have, such as legal assistance.

28. The Agreement remained in full force and effort throughout Davids' employment.

  29. It was clear that continued employment as well as Davids' salary and other benefits were consideration for Davids' promise to obey the restrictions therein.

 30. Because she signed and agreed to abide by the provisions of the Agreement, for which she received significant monetary consideration, Davids was given access to Local 372's confidential and proprietary information regarding its members, services, revenues and employees, and she became intimately familiar with Local 372's organization.

31. Davids was entrusted with confidential information regarding Local 372's members and other key contacts, including detailed and confidential information about particular members, the members' needs and preferences, Local 372's organizational structure, pricing, practices, strategies, employees and access to other Local 372 related information, all of which allows Local 372 to compete for and obtain services of its members.


  32. On or about December 20, 2013, Local 372 terminated Ms. Davids' employment.

 33. The initial basis for the decision was a culmination of events that made Local 372 lose faith in Davids' performance .

34. Among those issues included but were not limited to the following:

a. Davids refusal to provide work plans and progress reports;

b. Davids worked from the field on most days; field staff are required to provide work plans for the purposes of time management, accountability and superv1S1on;

 c. Many times, Local 372 did not know where she was or what she was doing;

 d. Davids was adverse to taking direction she did not agree with;

e. Several management level employees complained that they had multiple conversations with her about the nature of union work and what was expected from her; each time Davids replied that she disagreed with the expectation; 

f. Davids committed a serious infraction when she did not show up for a flight to a conference, rebooked her own return flight using the Local 372 account without authorization and then did not come back to work for weeks, using all of her sick time and most of her comp time.

 g. When she returned I held a meeting with her where it was clear that she did not want to be supervised; and

  h. Overall, Davids exhibited an attitude of spite, anger, and refusal to follow direction.

 35. The last straw, however, was when I discovered that Davids was not registered to lobby; Davids had represented to Local 372 (as well as on some of her public websites) that she had been registered and I considered this a fraudulent misrepresentation on her part considering that her job was largely engaging in lobbying activities.


  36. As a result of all the above, on December 20, 2013, I called Davids into my office and also asked Norelis Santiago, Local 372's Director of Staff and Operations, Gay Brisbon, Executive Director to the presdien and Glen Blacks, Executive Vice President, to be present.

37. I informed Davids that her employment was being terminated summarily and that she would immediately be required to return all property issued by the organization to her, including, but not limited to her laptop, cellphone, access codes, keys, equipment, identification and other company-issued items.

38. I also told her that if she was cooperative in the transition that she could be offered a greater severance package beyond those to which she would be entitled in the Agreement.

39. I made it clear, however, that her employment was ending, one way or another. 
40. Davids then asked me to put the above proposal in writing as she sat there and proceeded to contact her own attorney in my office.

41. Although I was a bit taken aback by her unusual request, I proceeded to draft a termination letter summarizing the terms we discussed and had it forwarded to her via email as she remained in the office. A copy of that termination letter is annexed hereto as Exhibit "C".

42. Within minutes after receiving my letter, I received an email response from Davids, alleging that my letter "raises possible ethical, moral and professional questions that [Davids] would like to discuss with [her] attorney'' and that she was going to take some time to decide whether she will "accept or reject the terms of termination ." A copy of her response email is annexed hereto as Exhibit "D".

43. Even more significantly, before leaving the office, Davids refused to provide me the usemames and passwords for several websites and/or accounts associated with her work for Local 372 work:


b. Mail Chimp Account

c. Political Action Website

 d. Political Action Twitter Account

 e. Website used for PC list

 44. Her refusal to surrender the codes are in clear violation of the Agreement, which states that:

Any Local 372 property issued to an employee, such as but not limited to computer equipment, facsimile machines, passwords, user identification, security codes, keys, parking passes, and credit cards, is the sole property of Local 372 and must be surrendered at any time to the president. this property must be returned to Local 372 at the time of said employee's termination.

  See Exhibit A, at p.22.


 45. Obviously a large part of the reason why Local 372 brought the instant action is due to Davids' refusal to return the usemames/passcodes and access information for the various sites that she controlled by working for Local 372.

46. Therefore, a brief explanation of Local 372's uses for these sites is appropriate.

 47. "AFSCME VAN" is Local 372's International's political action database. Davids contacted the International via email and was granted access without my express permission during her employment.

48. The database allows the person with access to be able to login, view, sort and print out the entire membership information.

49. Currently, even though the database contains confidential and proprietary information relating to each and every member of Local 372 and its International, Davids has refused to relinquish control of her access.

50. "Mail Chimp" is a mass emailing system.

 51. Local 372 has two "Mail Chimp" accounts, once of which -called local372pac -was solely accessible to Davids during her employment.

52. Local 372 collects emails at every meeting, event and training, then its clerical staff inputs the emails from the sign-in sheets so that it could contact members regarding political action.

53. Mail Chimp is used to send these mass emails.

 54. Davids is refusing to provide Local 372 access to the local372pac Mail Chimp account.

55. Davids, under the direction of Local 372, also created a website for Local 372 Political Action under the domain name ""

56. This website is where Local 372 puts all of its political action information, campaigns and calls to action for its members.

57. Even though the website is Local 372 property, currently, it is solely under Davids' control because she has not provided Local 372 with any information she utilized to create it.

58. Davids, also at Local 372's direction, created a Twitter account (local372pac) as a big part of Local 372's political action machine.

59. This is where Local 372 updates members and the community about where it stands on political issues.

60. Without access to this Twitter account, Local 372 has no control over any ''tweets" that Davids may send out to countless "followers."

61. The dangers of this are immense considering the number of members and others in the public that would be recipients of such potentially malicious tweets.

 62. Davids also used a document sharing website for Local 372's Parent Coordinator campaign.

63. Davids could create letters and flyers there and Local 372 staff members could all go to the site and see, suggest, edit and print the documents.

64. Davids has not provided Local 372 with access to this site.


 65. On December 21, 2013, the day after Davids' termination, after it became clear that she would not cooperate in the transition, but also had chosen to hold the above referenced passcodes hostage (to either punish Local 372 for firing her, for her own self-interest, or to negotiate a better severance package), I had another letter sent to Davids. A copy of this letter is annexed hereto as Exhibit "E".

66. The December 21, 2013 letter stated in no WlCertain terms that Local 372 would seek legal action against her if she refused to return Local 372's property, including the access codes for the accoWlts and websites above.

67. Inaddition, the letter informed Davids that her termination was being converted into a termination "with cause" and that Local 372 was no longer interested in negotiating any severance packages with her; Davids was paid through her termination date and nothing more is owed to her.

68. The letter also gave her a final chance, by December 23, 2013, to arrange for the return of all Local 372 property in her possession.

69. Davids failed to return any Local 372 property and respond to the letter, which has made the instant legal action necessary.

70. Local 372 also reached out to twitter and Mail Chimp directly to cancel Davids' unauthorized access privileges, however, although the sites empathized with Local 372's plight, they declined to intervene absent a court order directing them to do so. Correspondence to and from the sites is annexed as Exhibits "F" and "G", respectively.

 71. Although Davids' current activities are unknown, public websites have indicated that she is acting as President of two organizations, to wit: The Protea Group, Inc. and the New York City Parents Union. 1

72. The Protea Group's website states that the company is a communications and public affairs consultancy based in New York City that provides a full suite of services including community relations, strategic advice, issue advocacy, grassroots organizing, public affairs, website development, political management, social media marketing, investment forums and trade missions.

73. Davids apparently founded the New York City Parents Union in May, 2012, to focus on the rights of parents in the public school system.

74. As President of these organizations, Davids clearly would focus on growing their member/client bases.

75. Local 372's confidential member, patron and key contact information obviously would be extremely valuable to Davids because it would save her the time, effort, and expense of developing her own clients by basically using Local 372's vast confidential databases as her own.

76. Upon information and belief, armed with the confidential databases and passcodes, Davids is already planning on a high-jacking Local 372's members, pardons and key contacts to Local 372's detriment.

77. In light of all the foregoing, I respectfully urge that the Court grant the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Local 372 is seeking. An injunction is vital in order to allow Local 372 to enforce its contractual and common law rights and to protect its confidential and valuable assets, including its proprietary member data and infonnation regarding its organization, as well as its priceless goodwill. We believe it would be wholly inequitable and unfair for Davids to flout her contractual, legal and fiduciary obligations toward Local 372 and for her, the Protea Group, the New York City Parents Union, or any other company or organization to reap the benefits of her wrongful conduct.

 78. If the requested injunctive relief is denied, Local 372 will suffer truly irreparable harm. Once the member lists and other confidential information and goodwill that have taken years of hard work to develop are misappropriated and exploited by Davids, it will be virtually impossible to undo or cure that damage. Without injunctive relief, we are threatened with the prospect of continued and, most likely, intensified misappropriation of our unique and valuable confidential information and goodwill by Davids. This would jeopardize not only our pecuniary interests, but the very essence of our organization.

 79. No prior request for the relief sought herein has been made.


Sworn to me on the day Of January, 2014

Notary Public,State of New York

Matter of Cadet and Section 913 Fitness Exams

In fitness exams, employees can’t ‘take the fifth’

On Board Online • Legal Agenda • May 12, 2008
By the New York State Association of School Attorneys
May a teacher refuse to answer questions about his or her mental or physical health? Can a medical examination conducted in accordance with the relevant state statute violate an employee’s rights against self-incrimination? School district leaders can be confident that the answer to both of these questions is “no.”

Education Law section 913 authorizes a board of education to have a medical examination of an employee conducted when questions arise as to the employee’s physical or mental health. The statute states that the board of education of any school district “shall be empowered to require any person employed by the board of education … to submit to a medical examination in order to determine the physical or mental capacity of such person to perform his or her duties.”

The law specifies that the exam must be performed either by the district’s director of school health services or by another physician or healthcare provider of the employee’s choice. The employee has the right to be accompanied to the exam by a physician or other qualified person of his or her choice.

The results of such examination may lead to discipline of the employee for incompetence. The authority granted to a board of education pursuant to this provision is quite broad, but leaves much of the specifics open to interpretation. For example, the statute is silent regarding the degree to which a medical examiner may delve into an employee’s past. However, implicit in the authority granted by the Education Law is the doctor’s right to question the employee about past medical issues in order to make a comprehensive determination as to the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties.

 What if an employee refuses to answer questions about his or her medical history under a theory of self-incrimination? There is no case law that answers this question directly. If such an issue arises in your district, the employee’s attorney or union representative may cite Matter of Cadet, an 11-year-old decision issued by the commissioner of education in which a physical education teacher in New York City refused to answer questions about an alleged romantic relationship with a student.

The teacher was offered immunity against criminal prosecution.

Nevertheless, a hearing panel convened under Education Law section 3020-a dismissed an insubordination charge based on the teacher’s refusal to answer questions, and the commissioner of education upheld that decision.

The commissioner’s ruling focused in part on the significance of the fact that the teacher had been granted immunity from criminal prosecution. As noted by the school district in Cadet, courts have recognized the right of a public employer to hold an employee accountable for insubordination after an employee refuses to answer questions regarding work-related conduct when immunity from criminal prosecution has been granted. However, the commissioner found such cases to be inapplicable because criminal prosecution was not an issue in Cadet, and immunity granted to the teacher would not protect him from charges being preferred pursuant to section 3020-a.

Nor was the commissioner swayed by the fact that both an executive order issued by the mayor of New York City and a resolution by the board of education stated that failure to answer questions regarding work-related conduct could result in disciplinary action under certain circumstances. The commissioner noted that the hearing panel found the alleged obligation of the teacher to testify was in conflict with section 3020-a and that “home rule principles found in the New York State Constitution generally give preference to state law where it conflicts with local law.”

Given this unfavorable ruling by the commissioner, how can a school district expect to overcome an employee’s claim against self-incrimination in the context of a medical exam? The answer is that such exams are conducted not under section 3020-a but section 913 of the Education Law, and different standards apply.

Schools are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of students. Although the principles in Matter of Cadet regarding freedom from self-incrimination are noteworthy, they do not supercede a school board’s right and obligation to question the fitness of its teachers. The Legislature recognized this through the passage of section 913. If an employee undergoing an examination in accordance with section 913 had a right to remain mute when questioned about his or her mental or physical health, the section of law would be rendered meaningless. This would be contrary to the legislative intent.
Although the specific issue of self-incrimination during medical exams has not been ruled upon by a court or the commissioner, school boards in New York State should be confident that it is within their right to require employees to answer questions posed by the physician, and to answer truthfully, in accordance with the provisions of section 913. Should an employee refuse to cooperate, this may form the basis of insubordination charge against a tenured teacher pursuant to Education Law section 3020-a.

Members of the New York State Association of School Attorneys represent school boards and school districts. This article was prepared by Thomas M. Volz and Christine LaPlace of Guercio & Guercio in Nassau County.