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Saturday, March 7, 2015

The OPI Problem Code and How To Get Off of It

Joseph McCarthy
The Problem code" in NYC DOE personnel files is a problem. Once put into your file, you can never get rid of it unless you make a deal or get exonerated at your 3020-a hearing (or overturn your discontinuance, if you are not tenured).

About a year ago I brought up the issue of a problem code during a settlement conference with the DOE Attorney and she told us it did not exist. But I showed proof, and then the arbitrator called me in to tell her about it, and asked me to speak to all the arbitrators there at 100 Gold that day. So, I did that.

 See my post

Down The Rabbit Hole: The NYC Department of Education's "Problem Code"

I am also re-posting a very important post on Chaz's School Daze  about the problem code, see below.

The UFT is not willing to end this blacklist? The last time I spoke with UFT's Amy Arundel, she insisted the "Problem Code" does not exist.

Indeed, when I worked for the UFT from 2007-2010, and my office was right next to Amy's office, I used to get calls all the time from members who wanted to know whether or not they were on this list, and I would walk next door and ask Amy, who would look up their file, and then she would tell me yes or no.

The problem code is a red flag put onto your file number to alert anyone that your fingerprints have been tagged as not cleared to work for the DOE or any vendors.

When a potential employer calls up the Department, and they ask about you and say that they are thinking of hiring you, all the DOE is permitted to say is how many years you worked for them. But seldom do they stop there. They go on to say that your file has a "Problem code".

Try it. Have a friend call DOE Human Resources and ask if you can be hired.

Joe McCarthy, where are you?

Anyway, if you are on the problem code, you must try to get off of it. What you need to do is, contact the Office of Personnel Investigations (OPI) at 65 Court Street, and ask for an appointment to talk with an "investigator". Bring someone with you, anyone.

At this meeting make an argument as to why you must have this red flag removed from your employee profile. Get the person's name and email address with whom you spoke, and email them what your argument was, after the meeting. Then wait for the decision. When you get the OPI decision, than you may file an Article 78 to overturn it, and then you can also sue the DOE if you have filed a Notice of Claim.

Read Chancellor's Regulations C-105.

OPI is here:

NYC Department of Education/DHRT
Office of Personnel Investigation
65 Court Street, Room 200
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Betsy Combier

Former OSI Director and The Gotcha Squad

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Why Has The UFT Leadership Failed To Take The DOE To PERB On The Problem Code Issue?

Back in 2012, the DOE decided that any teacher who was subject to a DOE investigation (SCI, OSI, OEO) and found to be substantiated will have a"problem code" attached to their file.  It mattered little that if the teacher decided to go through with their 3020-a hearing and the independent arbitrator found that the DOE investigation was flawed and found no serious misconduct, the DOE still kept the "problem code" on the teacher's file.  At the time the UFT leadership objected and claimed they will take it to PERB.  However, the UFT leadership failed to pursue the PERB complaint.  The question is why did they quietly drop their promise to file a PERB complaint, or did they ever really intend to fire one in the first place?

The union's failure to protect their members shows up yet again, be it the second class status of the ATRs, reassigned teachers put on ice in a different borough, or the labeling of the unfair "problem codes".  Our union's failure to remove the"Scarlet Letter" from their member files is a disgrace and must be corrected.

As a member with one of those "problem codes"on my file.  I will be more than happy to be the test case, if the union leadership wants to challenge the unfair DOE designation that has damaged many member chances from obtaining a position.  However, I doubt that the disconnected leadership will do the right thing and file their long promised PERB complaint.


Anonymous said...

Regarding a Formal Observation....How is the post-confere3nce documented?

Rating officers writes that it was held....

Grievant avers that it WAS NOT held!!!

How to prove???

Anonymous said...

I have written to the Dept of Personnel Investigations three months response....
Can anyone help???

Anonymous said...

I have written to the Dept of Personnel Investigations three months response....
Can anyone help???

Anonymous said...

Regarding all those Blacklisted who were ever rated a U....
What is the burden of the UFT to define a U Rating?

How is Orientation proven?

Does a Rating Officer who is an IAP have the right to generate hostile terminative personnel acts?

Anonymous said...

Have written to the DOE Department of Personnel Investigations....
They do not answer....
Do they have to respond?....
Will writing to elected officials help?

Anonymous said...

NYC Dept of Personnel Investigations refuses to acknowledge:

a) Requests for a list of all and deceased...
b) Review of the Blacklist by protected class...
c) Rights of all Blacklisted to:
1. Proof of Orientation (including Racism and acknowledgement of the NYC DOE as the
most racially segregated school system in the country.)
2. Proof of Notification of placement on Blacklist.
3. Burden of the UFT to dispute Notification of placement on the Blacklist.
4. Right of all Blacklisted to a concise statement for placement on Blacklist, dates
of employment, review of those removed from Blacklist.
5. Verification of the credentials of all those who have taken hostile personnel acts against the Blacklisted.

Betsy Combier said...

It seems that no one really wants educators to know that the problem code exists. When you see your personnel file (this is your right, every year!) you can see "PC" on the top of the documents. I have heard UFT representatives say "I don't know what that is", but this just isn't true. Once you are nominated for a position and the school cannot hire you because there is a "problem", email OPI at and ask for an application to be sent to you to fill out. After you fill it out you will have an interview with an "OPI investigator".If you are denied, you should file a lawsuit.
Email me for more information. Betsy Combier,

Anonymous said...

Is it incumbent upon the NYC DOE to deny or affirm the establishment and maintenance of a Blacklist?

Is it incumbent upon the UFT to deny or affirm the establishment and maintenance of a Blacklist NYC DOE?

Anonymous said...

I haven't had my grievance and I have jobs for the doe I was terminated from kitchen but still work for nycsss I am trying to get rid of my problem code I work in two different buildings

Anonymous said...

What's the process if you have a problem code generated because you resigned without giving a 30 day notice?