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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Labels - How Good are They?

Labels are important to have in our world. At least, labels of products, houses, types of animals, diseases, germs, bacteria, vitamins etc., assist us in making choices about life, health, and happiness. The basics.

Sometimes, people deserve to be labelled "criminal", "corrupt" or "child abuser", and there are many examples recently in the news of these convicted individuals. The key word here is "convicted." There are facts which show to a jury of his/her peers that the person is guilty of a crime. Works most, but not all of the time.



v. con·vict·edcon·vict·ingcon·victs
1. Law To find or prove (someone) guilty of an offense or crime, especially by the verdict of a court: 
The jury convicted the defendant of manslaughter.
2. To show or declare to be blameworthy; condemn: His remarks convicted him of a lack of sensitivity.
3. To make aware of one's sinfulness or guilt.
To return a verdict of guilty in a court: "We need jurors ... who will not convict merely because they 
are suspicious"(Scott Turow).
n. (kŏn′vĭkt′) Law
1. person found or declared guilty of an offense or crime.
2. person serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Then there are opinions of people who give a label which has been "proven" in a person's mind. An example is my opinion that Francesco Portelos (UFT Solidarity) is a "cyberbully". This is my opinion, and I stand behind the label because of his actions and emails to me.

 The NYC DOE are quick to label GROUPS of people, and it is permanent, more or less. If you have the label "tenured teacher", this means that you have certain privileges as well as rights to your job and to benefits. You are supposed to be targeted for being tenured, so there is a spot on your back for made up charges. Watch out, be vigilant.

If you are a "probationary teacher", "paraprofessional", "secretary", even "Assistant Principal" or you have worked for the DOE for three years or less and do not have tenure, then you have no property right to your job, and that label means that you can be displaced easier and are probably easy to order around, because you have no job protections. You are expected to go after anyone targeted in the "tenured" group.

"ATRs" are, according to the DOE, people who have been discarded from their full-time employment as classroom teachers or Guidance Counselors for some reason - which no one at the DOE is going to try to figure out. This is when labels get slippery. There is a new policy invented by some nameless DOE chief of something who made it impossible for an employee to go back to his/her school or position after not being terminated at 3020-a because "that is the way it is". Thus all teachers who are not terminated at 3020-a become ATRs and are still tenured. There is still no category for these people to be contractually evaluated. No one is talking about this, and the UFT is not fixing it, either.

The label that is extremely outrageous is the "problem code". This label can be a verb, "did you get problem-coded?" Or, an adjective: "has your file been problem-coded?" No matter which way you use it, this label says you have been charged with something. No one checks what, when or why. Except people like me, who help people get off of this label. The UFT has done nothing to get this removed from members' files.

A few days ago I heard a DOE Attorney say that "if the teacher settles for the suspension before the hearing begins (i.e. there is no testimony by any witnesses) we will remove the problem code. If the teacher does not settle, then the problem code never goes away. Period." The teacher remains tainted, discarded, guilty of something, too bad....

Creepy. What if all the charges are false, have no proof, and an arbitrator makes a bad decision? The teacher is problem-coded and bears this burden forever? This is not good public policy.

So, I just want to vote for a review, on a case-by-case basis, for the "rapists","armed robbers","drug dealers", and other people labelled in Obama's sweeping cleanup described below. Let's get all those people who do not deserve to be placed under these labels a second chance to be full citizens and productive members of society, just like "problem-coded" teachers. Let's clean this mess up. Now.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, The NYC Public Voice

Obama doesn’t think rapists, armed robbers, drug dealers are criminals


It’s only May, but I think I’ve found the euphemism of the year: According to Team Obama, criminals should now be declared “justice-involved individuals.”
The neo-Orwellianism comes to us from the bizarre flurry of last-minute diktats, regulations and bone-chilling threats collectively known to fanboys as Obama’s Gorgeous Goodbye.
In another of those smiley-faced, but deeply sinister, “Dear Colleague” letters sent to universities and college this week, Obama’s Education Secretary John King discouraged colleges from asking applicants whether they were convicted criminals.
So rapists, burglars, armed robbers and drug dealers aren’t criminals anymore. These folks are simply “involved” with “justice,” according to Obamanoids.
Maybe they’re right: “Criminals” is an inherently disparaging term that leads to stigmatization and decreased access to Eugene O’Neill seminars. But don’t we need to retroactively reconfigure how we think of those unfortunate souls who found themselves pursued by harsh enforcers of restrictive behavioral norms?
When you think about it, Jack the Ripper was merely a “cutlery-involved individual” while Jeffrey Dahmer was simply a “unconventional dietary-options-involved individual.”
Colleges generally ask whether applicants have criminal records, and for excellent reason. Parents probably don’t want their eager young freshperson daughter Molly living across the hall from a rapist — I mean, sexual-justice-involved individual.
King notes that when you ask college applicants about whether they brutalized, mugged or otherwise committed outrages against their fellow human beings, the ugly specter of “disparate impact” arises. The black crime rate is higher than the white crime rate, so the “Are you a criminal?” question is bound to do injury to blacks, or so goes the reasoning.
Obama is fighting the war for criminals to get closer to you on several fronts. Last month, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he went after landlords, threatening them with penalties if they barred criminals from living in their buildings.
In November, Obama unilaterally ordered federal agencies to strike the box asking applicants whether they had committed crimes and referred to criminals as “folks.” This would be the same president who on Oct. 25, 2010, referred to Republicans as “enemies” and suggested voters should “punish” them. Convicted rapists? They’re just “folks.”
It’s fair to argue that the criminal justice system, and society as a whole, have a strong interest in rehabilitating criminals in addition to punishing them. And Team Obama argues innocently that (the people they refuse to call) criminals deserve to get their foot in the door before the step where they are asked about their criminal history.
But this is just a step in a long-term strategy pursued by progressives, who love criminals the way little girls love Disney princesses. The goal is to sneak criminals into your apartment building or workplace or campus.
Just glance at the Web site of one Ban the Box advocacy group, the South Dakota Peace & Justice Center. Its stated goal is to put off questions about criminal behavior until later in the game: “Only during the interview process will a criminal background check be completed if it is relevant or required for the position.”
In other words: Enforcers will tell you whether an applicant’s criminal background is relevant to a particular gig and order you not to ask about if they deem it irrelevant.
Yet there is no job on the planet in which your criminal background is automatically irrelevant. Employers can weigh how much importance to assign to which crimes and judge for themselves whether a criminal has reformed.
Bringing up “disparate impact” is a way to change the subject between who you are and what you did. One is about characteristics you were born with; the other is about bad choices you made. One is a terrible reason to discriminate you; the other isn’t.
King says that there is no evidence that questions about criminal backgrounds have any impact on campus safety. How hard did he look for such evidence? Because I’m pretty sure that one reliable predictor of crime is the presence of criminals.
Colleges find themselves at a point in time where debates about, say, whether rape is spiking on campus (it isn’t) are treated as so imperilling that they require the establishment of alternative “safe spaces” such as the rubber room established at Brown in 2014 and “equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies,” according to The New York Times.
Yet these colleges are now being nudged not to ask a potential student whether he’s a rapist, or an assailant or a heroin dealer, with the implicit threat of the administration’s power to launch civil rights investigations lurking not far behind.
University donors, and parents of matriculating students, should be eager to ask college admissions officers how far they are willing to go to comply with Team Obama’s wishes: Exactly how many convicts are going to be housed in Molly’s dorm?

The 3020-a Arbitration Newswire: Digging Up The Garbage on The XEROX Machine

49-51 Chambers Street
The buildings above are the buildings in which 3020-a arbitration did occur (49-51 Chambers Street, until September 2015), and continue (100 Gold Street, 3rd Floor present location).
100 Gold Street, Manhattan
See previous articles in this series:

The 3020-a Arbitration Newswire: Digging Up The Garbage on the Vouchers Paid To Arbitrators

The 3020-a Arbitration Newswire: Digging Up The Garbage on the Rubber Room

The 3020-a Arbitration Newswire: Digging Up The Garbage on the DOE Lawyers -Shareema Abel

As anyone charged with 3020-a misconduct/incompetency, files a grievance or assists in these hearings as well as those individuals who have any arbitration/Special Complaint hearings know, the location of the hearings has moved from 49-51 Chambers Street  (darn, I loved watching Law and Order filming at the end of the street!!) to 100 Gold Street, 3rd floor.

One of the many things which has NOT changed is the use of the tax-payer-paid-for-XEROX-machine stationed beside the receptionist desk in the waiting room at 100 Gold, 3rd Floor. This machine is to me a constant reminder that the NYC Department of Education is in CONTROL (key word) of all that occurs in the hearing rooms, unless you can overcome this by an effective defense, which is what I hope I and the lawyers I work with, do. You cannot simply go to this very big, all purpose machine and copy papers you need for your hearing. You must ask, beg, give your first-born child, and maybe you will be given the code, or an arbitrator will ask/demand that the NYC DOE taxpayer-paid Attorney will copy the docs for you. Depends on who your arbitrator is.

The NYC DOE taxpayer-paid-attorney in the re-post from my blog in 2011, Victor Muallem, (see decision in that case) is no longer working for the DOE - in fact, I believe he moved on soon after my post below, posted on this blog on May 10, 2011.

The Respondent whose hearing was on that day was given a $1000 fine and sent right back to his school. We won.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, The NYC Public Voice

TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011

The XEROX Machine Incident at The Gotcha Squad

The picture above is a copy machine. This particular copier is located in the left corner of The Gotcha Squad's sixth floor waiting room, right behind the receptionist where people arriving for grievances or 3020a arbitration sign in. Today, May 10, 2011, about eight people were sitting in this room in addition to me and the respondent of the case in which I am assisting the private lawyer as his paralegal, when an incident involving this very machine occurred that is too good not to pass on.

The backstory is, as I have written previously, since 2003 how I have sat in on public hearings of tenured teachers when asked by the respondent tenured employee to do so, and I have observed the lawyers, witnesses, arbitrators, and guests. No one has ever paid me to be there, so my mountains of material written about the 3020-a process in New York City is my material and mine alone.

I have helped teachers calm down - teachers should be in the classroom and not on trial - and helped investigate Principals, Assistant Principals, and any other administrator as to what they are doing in their schools - for example, complying with federal special education laws, financial recordkeeping, harassment, etc. Someone has to do it and hold these people accountable for their actions. I do that. I look at their collaborators too (non-administrators who help the bad guys/gals) .

The personnel of the New York City Department of Education Administrative Trials Unit and TPU hate me for my diligence in appearing 2-4 times per week, and staying all day until the last word has been said. Almost all NYSUT Attorneys no longer speak with me even to say hello, because of my research into cases they have lost. In fact, when I worked for the UFT part-time, (I no longer work for the UFT) Leroy Barr, Ellie Engler and Gary Sprung told me to stop attending hearings at 51 Chambers Street because "this was bad for them". As I had a clause in my agreement to continue doing whatever I had done in the past in my own time, I gently told the UFT that as the members were being tortured at the 3020-a, someone had to be there to protect the members' due process rights, so I just kept going whenever asked. The issue that I will be addressing in the future is the possible collusion of the UFT and NYSUT with The Gotcha Squad at 3020-a hearings. But for now, I have my trusty disposable pen (at TD Bank, they are free!), and I like pads that have graph paper instead of lines. Why, I dont know. And no, Theresa (Europe), I never have brought a tape recorder to the hearings even though in New York State it is legal to  secretly tape anyone with whom I am in a conversation.

I am, of course, writing a book.

All the people who work for the Gotcha Squad now or in the past have a very good chance of appearing in my book, but one person is definitely going to be in there: NYC Department Attorney Victor Muallem. I have sat in on several hearings where Victor was the DOE Attorney. In my opinion, he is one of the most incompetent attorneys I have seen, and the DOE does dig their attorneys up from the bottom of the barrel. I have asked many people why Victor acts like he owns the place, and everyone there simply shrugs and says that that's the way things are. Same with Ms. Sylvia Cheeks, who assigns hearing rooms. If she catches you in a hallway and you look like you dont know what is going on, Sylvia will tell you you have to sit in the waiting room (see picture above), sorry. According to sources she has no title, but took on this role because she can now tell people where to go. Literally.

So, lets get back to this morning, May 10, 2011. I arrived early like I usually do, around 9:30AM for a 10 o'clock start time for the teacher's hearing. The teacher showed up and we, I as the paralegal,  started going over the documents that were going to be used in the hearing at which Assistant Principal Francine Palmer-Mullings would be testifying today about how this math teacher was criminally incompetent and must be terminated. About a month ago more than half the school walked out in protest of this teacher's removal Fordham Leadership Academy For Business and Technology located in the Bronx, but AP Palmer-Mullings remembered none of that. She did not see all the students wearing t-shirts with this teacher's name on them, either. Nope, totally zoned out of everything except that this teacher must be terminated. Palmer-Mullings has quite a few skeletons in her closet, but the DOE Attorney on this case, Ms. Dilia Travieso, objected strongly to Arbitrator Roy Watanabe whenever any of that was brought in. (In Watanabe's favor, he did allow testimony about Palmer-Mullings being found guilty of pocketing $7000 that belonged to the robotics club, substantiated by Special Commissioner of Investigation or SCI. (Now we'll see whether Watanabe allows the issue of her taking excessive per session pay or not, and whether she was on more than one budget line at the school, and even whether she has a green Card).

So, there I and the teacher were, looking through documents in preparation for cross examination of Palmer-Mullings by the teacher's Attorney, who put me in the record as his paralegal, and Watanabe accepted this. The teacher needed a few pages copied, so I went over to the copy machine (the one in the picture at the top) and put the papers in the feeder and pressed start.

The new receptionist (she has been in her job a few months, Monday-wednesday) came up behind me and told me that the copy machine was only for lawyers, and I could not use it because I am not an attorney. I asked her if this was a new policy, and if it was written down, but all she knew was that I had to move away, pronto. That was news, as I and everyone else have used this machine since it appeared  I believe in September. I nicely told her that I was assisting the attorney in the 3020-a as his paralegal, and he needed the papers. She left the room, I finished one set, and went back to the far end of the room to sit down next to the teacher.

Suddenly, everyone in the room jumped out of their chairs as round little Victor Muallem came running into the area screaming at the top of his lungs (well, I dont know that for a fact, but he was VERY loud),
"if THAT woman (pointing his outstretched arm and finger at me) uses the copy machine, or tries to use it, I will call security and have her escorted out of the building."

He was so mad that he was shaking with rage. The room was completely silent (although I admit to  giggling). If I had not been part of the teacher's team at the 3020-a hearing on for today, I would have possibly told Victor that I saw no written policy, and therefore would use the machine until a written policy was produced. But I knew that Victor would escort me out with security and then I would have some media coverage for being thrown out of 51 Chambers street for using - or attempting to use - the copy machine on the sixth floor (is it public funds that pays for the upkeep and buys the paper???), but I'll have to get thrown out on another day - specially set up with the proper cameras outside to catch everything.

Victor is serious about throwing people out. The teacher whose hearing was today wanted to talk to his previous attorney at the beginning of his hearing, and they both went into an empty small room to discuss the case. Victor found them and screamed that they must leave immediately, the rooms belong to the Department and cannot be used by anyone else (the teacher is still an employee). The lawyer said that he wanted to stay, to discuss the case, and Victor called security and had the lawyer escorted downstairs and out of the building. From that day on, the Attorney was not allowed upstairs to the sixth floor without a security guard with him. He withdrew from the case and told the teacher to resign.

This is how they run things at The Gotcha Squad.

Gary - thanks for your help.

Betsy Combier


Anonymous said...
Muellem is a very sick duck, wonder where and how DoE got sick people like him?
Polo Colon said...
Having accompanied Betsy at quite a few of these hearings, I can verify that the process and the collusion between the UFT, NYSUT, the DOE's Administrative Trials Unit and the arbitrators are even more insidious than Betsy describes.

For the hapless victim teacher, the entire proceeding is really an excruciating miscarriage of justice! It is legalized crime and a set-up orchestrated by these conspiratorial entities. It is unbelievable how callous and irresponsible these evil-minded people are and the depths of spiritual decadence they have wilfully abscribed their hearts to.

Betsy is an oasis for these teachers who have no more caring an advocate than she and I certainly will emulate her in making myself available on my summer vacation days to these victim teachers to support them in the absence of any help in the hellish kangaroo court that they find themselves subjected to.
Ariel Bonzai said...
. Our staff was divided and conquered. The gotcha crap is so out of control that when teachers at a committee voted for librarian and college counselor be paid for from ill gotten Gates grant in a Demoractic process, all hell broke loose because they dared to oppose the will of the despot.
The money is earmarked for improved instruction, incentives, smaller class size and was earned fair and square through hard work and distinguished leadership, which was notably negated, unhealthy and stuttering because these suits do not take kindly to folks who actually take their work seriously; they just the work from them. And all the credit for our success
Our union began to betray us soon after the little dictator took over. I refused to take part in the strikes, which were very badly timed, not mention petty in light of what other state workers and we ourselves now confront. I forsaw my future, and when overloading me with students and accountability backfired because the kids were hip to the harassment, the tensions that thick, the attacks are that blatant, and I have wonder why no one asks them about teacher quality, about how they learn, and the role models they have that are bullies.
These fools, the teachers I reported, the principle and a self righteous white woman who drives her Jaguar into poor school parking with a bumper sticker in the window urging us to vote against gay marriage.

She's in charge of sexual harassment, discriminations, ethics, laws and that politically correct stuff these people play very fast and loose with. She is the AP I went to about a notoriously abusive teacher--in administrator inner circle after a career provoking their ire--who made a student in labor finish her exam before allowing her to go to the hospital. When the girl insisted she was in pain and afraid, the teacher said she could be excused but she would not pass the term therefore she would not graduate this violates policy any school affords a child in need of medical care, it is also against state laws, and unconscionable that anyone would abuse a child and her baby so recklessly.
I know this happened because 8 students came to me with the same tale, which the AP confirmed, stating the girl and she spoke. She told me the girl was all right with this and she appeared to be fine with it too. Well, until I emailed her a copy of the state laws protecting pregnant students rights.
These four people and a poor bullied colleague unable to hear, not very articulate and scare shitless, said I had told him once I would not mind if the abusive teavher was dead. She was fabricating these tall tale of me assaulting her in a meeting with 30 people, hurting my students, who we shared, and imposing herself on my space with aggressive purpose.
By the time they sent me to our district jail, my panic attacks were debilitating it's been a year and a few months and last week I could not bring myself to face the place because I am rattling their cages with Lenny and our Perdaily cohort.
But I will not stand down I am almost 50, a single mom, and my credential is being used to intimidate and silence me. I am behind in my mortgage, developing a full blown Joan of Arc complex and obsessed with the public education reform.
I find myself following in your footsteps. Supporting
Teachers, documenting events, all too aware the satire is writing itself. I could use a few pointers, just off the top of your head as you clearly have astute instincts. How do I proceed? What do I need to know? I testified for one sister teacher a couple of months ago. It was quite as absurd as your anecdote but it was similar in tone. The lawyer did not rattle me; fheoric with him is what I call RikiTiki Tavi Cute furry creature takes the snake down because it underestimates her cunning
However, there are financial concerns. It is unlikely I will teach in public schools and can do adjunct gigs at colleges to get by. How aggressive and apt are these sociopaths ?