|Attorney Shareema Abel|
I believe that the NYC 3020-a Arbitrators and DOE Attorneys are in an impossible moral and ethical conflict, where they must overlook obvious violations of law and regulations, even the lies of their witnesses, to satisfy the DOE policy of terminating tenured teachers in order to stay on the panel or in their jobs. Is the $1400/day and/or the perks of being a DOE 3020-a Attorney worth the risks to reputation and future cases? The Arbitrators and Attorneys on the NYC panel must say yes.
Some of the DOE Attorneys who prosecute teachers and other employees at 3020-a really believe that the person charged is guilty of terrible crimes to children....or, they are excellent actors. Sometimes the venom and disrespect heard across the table is so outrageous that it seems to have a personal distaste behind it for the person who is charged. I agree that if a teacher has sex with a young child in a classroom closet, the distaste and disrespect may be valid. But for a charge of not having a lesson plan? C'mon, that is absurd. I have seen this anger and it is not easy to view, even after studying the Attorneys and arbitrators at 3020-a hearings for 13 years, as I have.
Are you an Attorney ready to defend the NYC DOE administrators as they wrongfully attack teachers and other staff? You must be willing to keep secret the failures of the charging agents (the Gotcha Squad, DOE "legal", principals, Assistant principals, whomever) to put two teachers in an ICT class; to give 'specials' (art-music-dance teachers) to special education children who have service providers listed on their IEPs; to provide state mandated SAVE or TIME OUT Rooms; to properly discipline and report rowdy and/or dangerous students who assault other students, teachers, staff. The list is long of the coverups you must do. But the pay is good. Below is an application:
Deputy Director) to terminate the person charged, no matter what the charges are. They change the rules to fit their whim-of-the-day, as they can.
|Gotcha Squad Attorney Ian Nikol (on the left)|
If a Principal is charged with 3020-a, he/she may, with his/her CSA Attorney, choose an arbitrator. We did, in the cases where a Principal hired me and one of my attorneys. Outside of New York City when I and/or my services and an Attorney are hired to do 3020-a, we get a list of arbitrators and, with the school district lawyer on the case, mutually agree on a single arbitrator. Not in NYC. The arbitrator is assigned by Dennis Da Costa, Naeemah Lamont (TPU incompetency cases) or Laura Brantley (ATU misconduct cases). Thus if you have ever observed a 3020-a as a member of the public, been charged or have been a legal professional and/or witness at these arbitration hearings, you may have seen the arbitrator give deference to the DOE Attorney on the case. The arbitrator who wants to remain on the permanent panel does what Da Costa, Lamont, or Brantley want them to do, so that they are not fired.
|Gotcha Squad Attorneys Naeemah Lamont, Ian Nikol, Rishona Fleishman|
I have seen this at work many times, and the "persuasion" techniques used by Da Costa are reprehensible. In one case, the Arbitrator found a science teacher guilty of such minor charges that she gave the teacher a small fine and wrote in her decision that the teacher must return to her position at the school she had been teaching in. The TPU told the arbitrator after the decision had been sent out to all parties that there had to be another hearing. The Arbitrator travelled from Maryland and we went, only to hear Dennis Da Costa scream at this arbitrator that she had to modify her decision, as no teacher found guilty of anything can return to the school at which she was charged. The arbitrator agreed to remove that part from her Award, the teacher was made an ATR, and the Arbitrator left, humbled and disgusted with the attack of Da Costa (my opinion).
In the case I worked on, Respondent teacher was a UFT delegate in addition to her position as a full time teacher who had never been disciplined in 3020-a before she received charges in 2013 for incompetency. The case was not ripe for arbitration, because when the hearing started, the Principal who had charged her, Angela Whitehurst of MS334, had resigned, under charges that she - Principal Whitehurst - had altered records. When we received the discovery documents, and the Appeal of the Respondent's U-rating to the Office of Appeals and Reviews (OAR), we - I and the Attorney - noticed that almost all the documents were not signed, by anyone.
My client said that she had not been able to see her file for almost 4 years, and had not been given a copy of the observations nor had she been asked to sign all but one. Principal Whitehurst, in her testimony, said that she destroyed all files and papers in her office when she was found guilty of wrongdoing, resigned, and became Principal of National Heritage Academies, a Charter School.
We submitted a Motion To Remove Unsigned Documents From The Record based upon the UFT Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Article 21:
" ARTICLE TWENTY-ONE: DUE PROCESS AND REVIEW PROCEDURES in the CBA states:
A. (1) "No material derogatory to a teacher's conduct, service, character or personality shall be placed in the [teacher] files unless the teacher has had an opportunity to read the material. The teacher shall acknowledge that he/she has read such material by affixing his/her signature on the actual copy to be filed, with the understanding that such signature merely signifies that he/she has read the material to be filed and does not necessarily indicate agreement with its content."
Almost immediately after we gave the Arbitrator, Richard Williams, and Ms. Abel a copy of the Motion, Ms. Abel started acting in a strange way. Ms. Abel crumpled her copy of the Motion into as tiny a ball as she could make, and sat on it. Then a few minutes later she stuck her tongue out at me, and kept it out for as long as she could. About half an hour later Ms. Abel I guess saw me looking at her and she started saying "oh, I'm so beautiful, I'm so gorgeous...." while she wiped her forehead, her cheeks, her chin, over and over, as if to wipe something off of her face that was dirty or something. We saw her wiping her face at the same time I did, and asked me what she was doing. We never figured this out.
When Ms. Abel started her cross-examination of my client she stood up, walked around the table, and stood right next to my client so that my client had to look up from her seat while answering the questions. The lawyer I was working with asked the Arbitrator if he would tell Ms. Abel to sit down, and he did, but Ms. Abel would not move. So, he stood between Ms. Abel and the client. The arbitrator told everyone that he would not allow any disruptive behavior in his hearing, so he asked everyone to sit down.
We won the case:
Decision of Arbitrator Williams:
"The school administrations lack of compliance with the UFT MOA provisions on "due process"
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